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Ricky’s preview and picks for Friday in Basel: Alcaraz and Auger-Aliassime both in action

Carlos Alcaraz will continue his Basel campaign with a matchup against Pablo Carreno Busta on Friday. Felix Auger-Aliassime, who is hoping to join Alcaraz in Turin, is set for a semifinal showdown against Alexander Bublik.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(1) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (5) Pablo Carreno Busta

Alcaraz and Carreno Busta will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers and for the second time this season when they meet again in round two of the Swiss Indoors Basel on Friday afternoon. Their only previous encounter came in the Barcelona final, with Alcaraz prevailing 6-3, 6-2. The word No. 1 isn’t quite as on fire now as he was during the spring and summer, which is understandable at the end of a long year. He lost to Felix Auger-Aliassime in Davis Cup and then exited Astana right away at the hands of David Goffin.

Unfortunately for Carreno Busta, he has gone five straight tournaments without advancing past the quarterfinals since triumphing at the Montreal Masters. The 31-year-old will try to end that drought after beginning his week in Basel with victories over Sebastian Baez (straight sets) and Dominic Stricker (three). Alcaraz also dropped one set in his first two rounds, beating Jack Draper 3-6, 6-2, 7-5 and Botic van de Zandschulp 6-4, 6-2. The top seed may not be in dominant form, but he should be able to get the best of his fellow Spaniard in the end.

Pick: Alcaraz in 3

(3) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Alexander Bublik

There are a couple of other players hot on his trail, but Auger-Aliassime appears to be heading straight for the Nitto ATP Finals. The ninth-ranked Canadian is already in qualifying position and based on his current form it would be no surprise if he delivers another huge result in either Basel or Paris. Auger-Aliassime is coming off back-to-back titles in Florence and Antwerp and his winning streak has extended to 10 matches with Basel victories over Marc-Andrea Huesler and Miomir Kecmanovic. The 22-year-old needed three sets to get past Huesler but then eradicated Kecmanovic 6-1, 6-0 in 49 minutes on Thursday.

Despite his recent workload, Auger-Aliassime should be well rested — not only because of his walk in the park against Kecmanovic but also because he lost only two sets in total during his title-winning runs in Florence and Antwerp. That is bad news for Bublik, who is 1-1 in the head-to-head series heading into Friday. The 38th-ranked Kazakh did well to reach the quarters by dismissing Aslan Karatsev and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, but these courts are playing slow and even regardless of conditions the Auger-Aliassime return should be too tough for the Bublik serve.

Pick: Auger-Aliassime in 2

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