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Ricky’s preview and picks for this week’s ATP 250s in Delray Beach and Buenos Aires

Joining Rotterdam on this week’s jam-packed ATP schedule are 250 tournaments in Delray Beach and Buenos Aires. Among the players in action are Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul, Denis Shapovalov, John Isner, Carlos Alcaraz, Cameron Norrie, and Dominic Thiem.

Here are my previews and picks.

Delray Beach Open

Where: Delray Beach, Florida 
Surface: Hard 
Top seed: Taylor Fritz 
2022 champion: Cameron Norrie (not playing) 

On the heels of Yibing Wu’s performance in Dallas, where he became the first Chinese player to win an ATP title, the rest of the Delray Beach field will be thrilled to see him depart. Wu withdrew following his historic triumph and was replaced in the bottom half of the draw by lucky loser Steve Johnson. That leaves a final spot relatively up for grabs, with Tommy Paul and John Isner the top contenders. However, Isner has to make a quick turnaround after losing to Wu on Sunday in Dallas and the 6’10’’ American has a big-serving first-round showdown on his hands with fellow former college star Christopher Eubanks. Speaking of college stars, it will be interesting to see what Ben Shelton does as an encore to his Australian Open quarterfinal breakthrough. 

At the top of the bracket, Fritz will be well rested and motivated after losing in the Dallas semis to Wu. With Denis Shapovalov struggling, Fritz appears to have a favorable path to the final and perhaps all the way to the title. Based on current form, Yoshihito Nishioka may be a more likely semifinal opponent than Shapovalov for the No. 1 seed. 

Quarterfinal picks: Taylor Fritz over J.J. Wolf, Yoshihito Nishioka over Denis Shapovalov, Marcos Giron over Nuno Borges, and Tommy Paul over John Isner 

Semifinals: Fritz over Nishioka and Paul over Giron 

Final: Fritz over Paul 

Argentina Open

Where: Buenos Aires, Argentina 
Surface: Clay 
Top seed: Carlos Alcaraz 
2022 champion: Casper Ruud (not playing) 

Alcaraz is back. The reigning U.S. Open champion missed the Australian Open because of a knee injury, but he has healed up and is ready to go for the Golden Swing. At No. 2 in the world and having won bigger titles left and right last season, Alcaraz would probably bypass this 250 event under normal circumstances. But considering all the time off he has endured, the 19-year-old Spaniard is taking his talents to Buenos Aires. Although Alcaraz is a heavy favorite on paper, expectations should probably be held in check given his relative inactivity since the U.S. Open (he also missed the Nitto ATP Finals due to a leg issue). 
With Alcaraz vulnerable, Sebastian Baez may be able to take advantage in the top quarter of the bracket. Baez just triumphed in front of his Argentine fans in Cordoba and will be looking to do the same in Buenos Aires. Fatigue should not be a huge factor; this is the Golden Swing, which might as well be tennis’ Super Bowl for clay-courters like Baez. That half of the draw is otherwise quite soft, as Diego Schwartzman is in a huge slump and Francisco Cerundolo is dealing with an injury. The bottom half, on the other hand, is absolutely loaded with clay-courters like Dominic Thiem, Lorenzo Musetti, Albert Ramos-Vinolas, and Cordoba runner-up Federico Coria. 

Quarterfinal picks: Sebastian Baez over Carlos Alcaraz, Guido Pella over Bernabe Zapata Miralles, Lorenzo Musetti over Alex Molcan, and Cameron Norrie over Albert Ramos-Vinolas 

Semifinals: Baez over Pella and Musetti over Norrie 

Final: Musetti over Baez