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Newport | Bastad News • Ricky’s tennis picks for quarterfinal matches: Murray vs. Bublik and Thiem vs. Baez

Andy Murray of Great Britain faces Alexander Bublik in Newport. EPA-EFE/JOHN G MABANGLO

By Ricky Dimon

A semifinal spot will be at stake when familiar foes Andy Murray and Alexander Bublik meet again on Friday in Newport. Quarterfinal competition is also taking place in Bastad, where Dominic Thiem faces Sebastian Baez.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

Newport: (3) Alexander Bublik vs. (6) Andy Murray

Murray and Bublik will be squaring off for the fifth time in their careers and for the fourth time already this season when they clash in the Hall of Fame Open quarterfinals on Friday afternoon. The head-to-head series stands at 3-1 in favor of Murray, who has won two of their three 2022 encounters. They split a pair of meetings in Rotterdam (Murray) and Indian Wells (Bublik) before the 35-year-old Scot recently got the job done 6-3, 7-6(4) on the grass courts of Stuttgart.

Grass should once again favor Murray, because it makes him tough to break and Bublik generally throws in a loose service game every now and then given his high-risk, high-reward style of play. The three-time Grand Slam champion has dismissed Sam Querrey and Max Purcell so far in Newport, winning four sets by scores no more competitive than 6-2. Bublik needed three sets to get past Jack Sock on Tuesday and a step up in competition may result in the end of his week.

Pick: Murray in 2

Sebastian Baez of Argentina in action. EPA-EFE/MATTEO BAZZI

Bastad: (8) Sebastian Baez vs. (PR) Dominic Thiem

Thiem is coming off by far his biggest win in the last 14 months. Of course, that’s not saying a lot considering it was only his third win during this stretch. Although the standard is not high, this is an extremely encouraging week for Thiem regardless of what transpires the rest of the way. After missing an entire year and then struggling for many weeks upon his return, the 27-year-old Austrian booked his spot in the Nordea Open quarterfinals by beating both Emil Ruusuvuori and Roberto Bautista Agut in three tight sets.

It won’t get any easier against Baez, who is in the midst of a breakthrough 2022 campaign. The 21-year-old Argentine had three main-tour wins heading into 2022; he has 23 this season alone. That includes straight-set routs of Fabio Fognini and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina earlier this week in Bastad. With Baez on fire and Thiem coming off two physically demanding matches, this match probably won’t end up being as good as it is on paper.

Pick: Baez in 2

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