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Ricky’s preview and picks for the Paris quarterfinals: Alcaraz vs. Rune and Auger-Aliassime vs. Tiafoe

Carlos Alcaraz and Felix Auger-Aliassime are heading to the Nitto ATP Finals later this month, but first they have tough Paris quarterfinal tests awaiting them on Friday. Alcaraz faces Holger Rune, while Auger-Aliassime is going up against Frances Tiafoe.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(1) Carlos Alcaraz vs. Holger Rune

Alcaraz and Rune will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they clash in the quarterfinals of the Rolex Paris Masters on Friday. Their only previous meeting came at the end of last season in the NextGen ATP Finals, where Alcaraz cruised 4-3(6), 4-2, 4-0. The 19-year-old Spaniard will find himself in a much different kind of year-end championship to conclude 2022: the Nitto ATP Finals. In fact, to say he qualified with room to spare would be a gross understatement. Alcaraz has soared all the way to No. 1 in the world thanks in part to a pair of Masters 1000 titles (Miami, Madrid) and a U.S. Open triumph. He has understandably shown some signs of fall fatigue, but he is through to the last eight in Paris following straight-set routs of Yoshihito Nishioka and Grigor Dimitrov.

Rune has been on a roll the last month, reaching three consecutive finals (lost in Sofia and Basel, won in Stockholm). The 19-year-old Dane is 16-2 in his last 18 matches following Paris wins over Stan Wawrinka (in a third-set tiebreaker), Hubert Hurkacz, and Andrey Rublev. This should be a fun one, but Rune may be even more fatigued than Alcaraz–who will be eager to really assert himself as the world’s top player going into Turin.

Pick: Alcaraz in 3

(16) Frances Tiafoe vs. (8) Felix Auger-Aliassime

Auger-Aliassime is three wins away from making it four titles in four consecutive weeks. That is still a long way to go, of course, but so far the eighth-ranked Canadian has not slowed down following victories in Florence, Antwerp, and Basel. He has advanced this week by beating Mikael Ymer and Gilles Simon, clinching a Nitto ATP Finals spot in the process.

A 15-match winning streak will be on the line when Auger-Aliassime faces Tiafoe for the third time on Friday. The head-to-head series stands at 2-0 in the 22-year-old’s favor, having prevailed in four sets at the 2021 U.S. Open and via a 7-5, 6-4 decision this spring on the red clay of Barcelona. Now, however, Tiafoe is playing the best tennis of his career. The 24-year-old American made a run to the semis in Flushing Meadows, clinched the Laver Cup for Team World by upsetting Stefanos Tsitsipas, finished runner-up in Tokyo, reached the quarters in Stockholm, and has advanced in Paris with straight-set victories over Lorenzo Sonego, Jack Draper, and Alex de Minaur. Tiafoe is in scorching-hot form, and at some point you have to think Auger-Aliassime’s tank will be running on something less than full.

Pick: Tiafoe in 3

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