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10sBalls | Ricky’s picks for Thursday Tennis in Newport: Isner vs. Bonzi and Cressy vs. Johnson

John Isner takes on Benjamin Bonzi in Newport. EPA-EFE/DAVID GUZMAN GONZALEZ

By Ricky Dimon

John Isner will continue his bid for a fifth Newport title when he goes up against Benjamin Bonzi in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Maxime Cressy and Steve Johnson are also aiming for a place in the semis of 2022’s last grass-court event.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(Q) Benjamin Bonzi vs. (2) John Isner

Isner may not be in his best form or in the prime of his career, but this is certainly his favorite time of year. The Hall of Fame Open and the Atlanta Open are played in the span of three weeks, and that could be just what the doctor ordered for him as the 37-year-old American looks to build momentum for the U.S. Open. Isner has won 16 ATP titles in his career; 10 have come in Newport (four) and Atlanta (six). The world No. 22 is 24-5 lifetime in Newport following a 6-4, 7-6(6) defeat over Peter Gojowyczk on Wednesday.

Up next for the second seed on Thursday is a first-ever meeting with Bonzi. The 48th-ranked Frenchman is in the midst of a breakout year on tour, with 17 of his 22 ATP-level wins having come in 2020. He has advanced this week with victories over former college stars William Blumberg and Christopher Eubanks. A tiebreaker and maybe even two should be expected, but Isner will likely be too good on his Newport stomping grounds.

Pick: Isner in 2

Maxime Cressy faces Steve Johnson in an all-American clash on Thursday. EPA-EFE/JOEL CARRETT

Steve Johnson vs. (4) Maxime Cressy

It will be an all-American affair when Cressy and Johnson also collide for the first time in their careers. Both guys have played only one match this week. Cressy followed up an opening bye with a 6-3, 6-4 rout of Mitchell Krueger, while Johnson beat Stefan Kozlov 7-5, 6-3 and then got a walkover from Jiri Vesely.

Based on both current form and the surface, Cressy has a clear edge. The world No. 41 has earned 16 of his 23 lifetime ATP wins this year, including runner-up performances at 250 events in Melbourne and Eastbourne. Johnson, on the other hand, is close to falling outside of the top 100. Not including a retirement, the 32-year-old has defeated just a single top-100 player since early April–and that was Vesely on clay; not exactly a noteworthy result. Cressy is by far the better all-around player right now, especially on grass.

Pick: Cressy in 2

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.