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Ricky’s picks for the Dallas second round, including Fritz vs. Sock

Top seed Taylor Fritz will kick off his Dallas campaign with an all-American showdown against Taylor Fritz on Thursday. Second-round action also includes their countryman, John Isner, who is facing Daniel Altmaier.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(1) Taylor Fritz vs. (WC) Jack Sock

Fritz and Sock will be squaring off for the sixth time in their careers and for the second straight year in the Dallas Open second round when they meet again on Thursday. That 2022 encounter went Fritz’s way via a 6-1, 6-4 decision to give him a 3-2 lead in the head-to-head series. He was won three in a row against Sock, who won their first two matchups in 2016 (at the Australian Open and U.S. Open, both in the opening round and both in five sets).

Sock did well just to set up another showdown with his much higher-ranked compatriot. The world No. 141 made the most of a wild-card spot by beating Ilya Ivashka 7-6(2), 4-6, 6-4 on Monday. Fritz earned a first round bye as the No. 1 seed and he currently finds himself in the top 10 at eighth in the rankings. Although 250-point events are no longer Fritz’s priority, he should be motivated for success after losing early in Melbourne (to Alexei Popyrin in round two). Sock’s new slim and trim look can serve him well the rest of the season, but another loss to Fritz in Dallas is likely incoming.

Pick: Fritz in 2

(5) John Isner vs. Daniel Altmaier

The inaugural Dallas tournament in 2022 is mostly remembered for the tiebreaker played by Isner and Reilly Opelka in the semifinals. Isner lost it 24-22, thus going down in straight sets and ending his hopes of lifting the trophy in the city where he resides. The 37-year-old has another very good chance this time around in what is a solid but unspectacular field, despite probably being past his prime. Even when not at his best, Isner’s serve can always bail him out and makes him a legitimate threat to win just about any match he plays. Case in point: the American fired 22 aces without double-faulting a single time, served at 79 percent, and was never broken during Tuesday’s 7-6(5), 7-6(1) victory over Chun-Hsin Tseng.

Up next for Isner on Thursday is a first-ever meeting with Altmaier, who ousted qualifier Zachary Svajda 6-2, 6-4 in the first round. This is a quick turnaround for the 99th-ranked German, who dropped a crucial Davis Cup rubber to Swiss veteran Stan Wawrinka 6-3, 5-7, 6-4 this past weekend in Germany. Altmaier is just 1-3 in the early stages of this season and this will likely be too tough of a test for him if Isner serves like he did against Tseng.

Pick: Isner in 2

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