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Ricky’s preview and picks for this week’s ATP 250 tournament in Winston-Salem

Botic van de Zandschulp of the Netherlands is Ricky’s Pick in Winston-Salem this week. EPA-EFE/JASON O’BRIEN

By Ricky Dimon

The U.S. Open is only one week away. Yes, just like that the 2022 Grand Slam season is almost over. Rafael Nadal has already been seen practicing in Arthur Ashe Stadium as he tries to make a run at winning three of the year’s four majors. Novak Djokovic is in a race against time as he hopes to be allowed into the United States.

Before we can focus entirely on the New York festivities, however, one more lead-up tournament remains. A field of 48 is participating at this week’s Winston-Salem Open, where Grigor Dimitrov, Botic van de Zandschulp, Holger Rune, Maxime Cressy, and Emil Ruusuvuori are among the seeded players.

Winston-Salem Open

Points: 250
Prize money: $731,935
Top seed: Grigor Dimitrov
Defending champion: Ilya Ivashka

First of all, draws for small 250-point tournaments in weeks directly preceding a Grand Slam don’t really mean much. Just about anything can happen; they are the toughest weeks of the year to forecast. Unexpected results are sure to take place, so it hardly matters if you run into the top seed or the lowest-ranked player in the early rounds. The most motivated players are the ones who generally do well…but there aren’t a lot of them. Most guys are eager to get to New York for preparation and rest in advance of the U.S. Open.

That being said, Van de Zandschulp does have a great draw in Winston-Salem. The Dutchman should be inspired, as well, because at No. 24 in the rankings he is one of the best players to have never won an ATP title. A wide-open event gives him one of his best opportunities. Van de Zandschulp is unlikely to have any problem reaching the semifinals, at which point he could run into either Cressy or Ruusuvuori.

Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria in action. EPA-EFE/RAY ACEVEDO

The top half of the bracket is much deeper, headlined by Dimitrov, Rune, Lorenzo Musetti, Jack Draper, and defending champion Ilya Ivashka. Dimitrov’s road is a rough one, possibly starting with Dominic Thiem before featuring Draper in the third round, Ivashka in the quarterfinals, and Rune or Musetti in the semis. Ivashka’s eighth of the draw also includes 2021 runner-up Mikael Ymer and Sebastian Baez, who is in the midst of a breakout 2022 campaign.

Quarterfinal picks: Ilya Ivashka over Jack Draper, David Goffin over Lorenzo Musetti, Emil Ruusuvuori over Maxime Cressy, and Botic van de Zandschulp over Denis Kudla

Semifinals: Goffin over Ivashka and Van de Zandschulp over Ruusuvuori

Final: Van de Zandschulp over Goffin

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