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ATP Tennis From Atlanta • Ricky’s picks for Day 3 • Top seed Opelka and 2021 runner-up Nakashima in action

Belarusian tennis player Ilya Ivashka will shock the world and topple top-seeded Reilly Opelka in Atlanta, Ricky predicts. EPA-EFE/Alejandro Garcia

By Ricky Dimon

Reilly Opelka will begin his week as the top seed in Atlanta when he follows up a first-round bye with a matchup against Ilya Ivashka on Wednesday night. Earlier in the day 2021 runner-up Brandon Nakashima will battle John Millman.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(1) Reilly Opelka vs. Ilya Ivashka

Opelka is the No. 1 seed at the Atlanta Open, but he can’t be considered the title favorite based on current form. The 6’11” American is just 3-8 in his last 11 matches since triumphing on the red clay of Houston in April. Although a return to U.S. hard courts should benefit him, Opelka has never advanced past the semifinals in Atlanta.

Up first for the world No. 17 on Wednesday night is Ivashka, who is well-rested after being banned from Wimbledon as a Belarusian. The 28-year-old is playing with confidence at the moment; this marks the sixth straight event at which Ivashka has won at least one match after he defeated Quentin Halys 6-0, 3-6, 6-3 on Tuesday. Ivashka’s last three losses have come to players ranked in the top six, so it’s requiring a lot to beat him these days. In his current state, Opelka may not have what it takes.

Pick: Ivashka in 3

Brandon Nakashima of the US in action at the Atlanta Open. EPA-EFE/ERIK S. LESSER

(8) Brandon Nakashima vs. John Millman

Nakashima is one of the Americans with the most momentum behind him right now–up there with Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul. The 20-year-old reach the third round of the French Open, the ‘s-Hertogenbosch quarterfinals, the Eastbourne second round as a qualifier, and the fourth round of Wimbledon (lost to Nick Kyrgios in five sets). Nakashima had success in his Atlanta debut, too, making a run to the 2021 title match before falling to six-time champion John Isner.

The Wednesday afternoon session pits Nakashima against Millman for the second time in their careers. They previously squared off at the Dallas Challenger in February, when the American prevailed 7-5, 7-6(3). Since Indian Wells in early March, Millman has won main-draw matches at only three ATP tournaments (Belgrade, Eastbourne, and now Atlanta). The 81st-ranked Aussie has failed to pick up multiple main-draw wins at any ATP Tour stop since Delray Beach in February. A 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-3 victory over compatriot Alexei Popyrin on Monday was decent, but nothing suggests that Millman is ready to take down Nakashima in Atlanta.

Pick: Nakashima in 2

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