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Tennis news • Ricky’s picks for the Atlanta semifinals: Tiafoe vs. Brooksby and De Minaur vs. Ivashka

Frances Tiafoe meets Jenson Brooksby in an all-American Atlanta semifinal. EPA-EFE/CHRISTIAN BRUNA

By Ricky Dimon

An all-American battle between Frances Tiafoe and Jenson Brooksby headlines the Atlanta semifinals on Saturday night. Earlier in the day, former champion Alex de Minaur will go up against unseeded Ilya Ivashka.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(4) Frances Tiafoe vs. (6) Jenson Brooksby

Tiafoe and Brooksby will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they clash in the Atlanta Open semifinals on Saturday. Their only previous encounter came last summer on the hard courts of Washington, D.C., where Brooksby got the job done 7-6(4), 7-5.

Brooksby was just 3-6 in his last nine matches heading into this week, but he has advanced with victories over Benoit Paire, Mackenzie McDonald, and John Isner. Tiafoe is coming off a fourth-round effort at Wimbledon and has maintained his fine form with Atlanta wins at the expense of Taro Daniel and Brandon Nakashima–both in easy straight sets. Conditions here are working perfectly for the 29th-ranked American, whose heavy forehand is allowing him to dictate rallies on a consistent basis. This should be a fun one, but Tiafoe’s form combined with those conditions mean he will likely have a slight edge.

Pick: Tiafoe in 3

Alex de Minaur of Australia in action. EPA-EFE/JASON SZENES

Ilya Ivashka vs. (3) Alex de Minaur

De Minaur lifted the trophy in his most recent appearance in Atlanta (2019) and now finds himself back in the semifinals following a two-year hiatus (the tournament was cancelled in 2020 and De Minaur played the Olympics in 2021). The 30th-ranked Australian earned a first-round bye this week as the No. 3 seed and has since defeated James Duckworth (6-4, 6-4) and Adrian Mannarino (4-6, 6-3, 6-0).

Standing in De Minaur’s way of a return trip to the title match is Ivashka, who lost their only previous meeting 6-2, 6-4 on grass at the 2018 Nottingham Challenger. A bit of a late bloomer, the 28-year-old Belarusian has been playing his best tennis over the past two seasons and registers at 53rd in the rankings. Following three ATP quarterfinal exits earlier in 2022, Ivashka got over the hump by beating Tommy Paul 6-2, 3-6, 6-1 on Friday. He preceded that result with three-set defeats of Quentin Halys and lucky loser Steve Johnson. A trio of difficult matches is not ideal heading into a contest with De Minaur in very hot weather–conditions that are ideal for the 2019 champion.

Pick: De Minaur in 2

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