10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

Ricky’s preview and picks for this week’s ATP events in Dallas, Montpellier, and Cordoba

If you like quantity over quality, February is for you. That’s not to say the tennis this month is poor; it’s simply that there aren’t any Grand Slams or Masters 100s on the menu. What there is, of course, is a whole lot of tournaments. Four weeks. Three tournaments per week. Twelve in total – all at the 250 or 500-point level. 
It all begins this week with a trio of 250s in Dallas, Montpellier, and Cordoba. 

Dallas Open

Where: Dallas, Texas 
Surface: Indoor hard 
Top seed: Taylor Fritz 
2022 champion: Reilly Opelka (not playing) 

The inaugural Dallas Open will be remembered for the 24-22 tiebreaker played by Reilly Opelka and John Isner in the semifinals, won by Opelka on his eventual way to the title. An extended injury absence means Opelka can’t defend his title and 2022 finalist Jenson Brooksby is also sidelined, but the American flavor of the field is still obvious. Isner, a Dallas resident, is joined by the likes of Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, J.J. Wolf, and Mackenzie McDonald. Tiafoe reached the third round of the Australian Open, Wolf came within a set of the quarterfinals, and McDonald upset Rafael Nadal en route to the last 32. All of those guys are realistic title contenders in Dallas, where the field is deep and there is no obvious favorite—not even Fritz, who underwhelmed in Melbourne. Although Isner may be past his prime, he certainly can’t be discounted—not with that serve on an indoor hard court in front of the home crowd.  

Semifinal picks: Denis Shapovalov over Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe over John Isner 

Final: Tiafoe over Shapovalov

Open Sud de France

Where: Montpellier, France 
Surface: Indoor hard 
Top seed: Holger Rune 
Defending champion: Alexander Bublik 

The European indoor swing begins in Montpellier, where the end of an era in France (Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, etc.) means the host nation will likely go another year without a hometown champion. The current stretch of two straight years without a French winner is already the first time that has happened since the tournament began in 2010. There were eight French champions in the first 10 seasons of the event’s existence. Now the trophy will likely come down to young guns like Holger Rune and Jannik Sinner, although Roberto Bautista Agut, Borna Coric, and defending champion Alexander Bublik could also be in the mix. Three of Sinner’s six ATP titles have come on indoor hard courts and Rune triumphed this past fall at the Paris Masters. It would be no surprise if Montpellier’s top two seeds are the last two men left standing on Super Bowl Sunday. 

Semifinal picks: Holger Rune over Maxime Cressy and Jannik Sinner over Roberto Bautista Agut 

Final: Sinner over Rune 

Cordoba Open

Where: Cordoba, Argentina 
Surface: Clay 
Top seed: Diego Schwartzman 
Defending champion: Albert Ramos-Vinolas 

The Golden Swing is here. It defines the dog days of February, with tournament after tournament left and right but not many big names of which to speak of. Diego Schwartzman has been in a massive slump dating back to last season and he still ranks high enough (28th) to be the No. 1 seed in front of the home crowd. Schwartzman may not be in strong enough form to get the job done this week, but the Argentine fans have plenty of other options at their disposal—Francisco Cerundo, Juan Manuel Cerundolo, Sebastian Baez, Guido Pella, and Federico Coria to name just a handful. Schwartzman and Juan Manuel Cerundolo have to go head-to-head in round two, while Francisco Cerundolo will kick off his campaign against either Alejandro Tabilo or fellow Argentine Federico Delbonis. Albert Ramos-Violas, who defeated Tabilo in last year’s final, could meet Cristian Garin in the quarters. 

Semifinal picks: Juan Manuel Cerundolo over Bernabe Zapata Miralles and Francisco Cerundolo over Cristian Garin 

Final: F. Cerundolo over J. Cerundo

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