2022 San Diego Open: Hometown Battle Between Nakashima, Svajda Highlights Day 2

The San Diego main draw kicked off on Monday with four matches, including two that went into three sets.

  • In a battle between two Aussies, James Duckworth defeated Alexei Popyrin in three sets.
  • Tomas Martin Etcheverry topped qualifier Fecundo Mena in two sets, but these two Argentine’s were already on the court for nearly two hours only halfway through the second set.
  • JJ Wolf pummeled Stefan Kozlov in two sets. Kozlov has actually beaten Wolf four times in their careers, but this was the first time they faced off at the ATP level.
  • Constant Lestienne took down Brandon Holt in three sets. It actually looked like Lestienne was done midway through the second set, as he was dealing with a calf injury and constantly complaining about scoreboard lights.

And don’t forget about this play!

Now we switch gears to Tuesday, as there are four more matches on slate starting at 11:30 a.m. PT. Two of the matchups will be all-American battles.

Let’s dive in and preview all four clashes.

Christopher Eubanks vs. Mitchell Krueger

Eubanks and Krueger go head-to-head in a battle between American qualifiers.

I’ll start with the 27-year-old Eubanks, who at 6-foot-7, relies heavily on his powerful serve and rocket forehand. He struggles a bit with his one-handed backhand, but overall, Eubanks has put together a solid season, winning four main-draw ATP Tour matches, including one at the US Open over Pedro Martinez.

Meanwhile, Krueger also relies heavily on his serve, and he too has won multiple main-draw ATP Tour matches this season (three overall).

The 28-year-old has struggled of late, though, needing two three-setters to even reach the San Diego main draw. Before that, Krueger lost five of his last six matches, including one to 356th-ranked Keegan Smith at a Cary, NC Challenger Tour event last week.

These two have four combined meetings, with two of the four going the distance and four tiebreakers being played in 10 total sets. Eubanks has won three of the four matches — including one in San Diego qualifying last year — but this will be the first time they meet in an ATP main draw duel.

I think Eubanks pulls out this victory. I like his form much better, and he has some confidence after winning a straight-setter at the US Open.

If you’re looking for a bet, I like the Over 23 games. Why? Well, just look at the past history between these two and the fact that they both rely heavily on their serves. Expect at least one tiebreaker and maybe a three-set match.

Taro Daniels vs. Emilio Nava

Beyond a nice win in Atlanta against Sebastian Korda and a tight match vs. Frances Tiafoe in that same tournament, it’s been a quiet summer for Daniels.

And on these medium-fast courts in San Diego, he could struggle.

That’s especially the case when playing Nava, who won his first ATP main-draw match this summer at the US Open against John Millman. He then took a set off Andy Murray in Round 2 of New York’s Grand Slam.

Nava also won a Challenger Tour title in Kazakhstan earlier this year, and most importantly, he just recently defeated Daniels in three sets in Winston-Salem qualifying.

This is a tough match to predict because of the tight recent scoreline between the two. I personally think Nava will win this match — he’s from southern California and is playing the best tennis of his young career — and will cover the +2 from a betting perspective.

But honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is a close match that comes down to three sets. Remember, Daniels is a veteran at 29 years old playing a 20-year-old in Nava who he beat 7-5, 7-5 in qualifying of Indian Wells earlier this year before their latest three-set meeting that went the youngster’s way.

Denis Kudla vs. Fernando Verdasco

This is a battle between two veterans looking to shift the late stages of their careers.

For the American, Kudla, he is 5-15 on the ATP Tour this year, including just a single win during the US Open Series on hard courts this summer (def. Michael Mmoh in three sets in D.C.).

Last week, Kudla played deep into the Cary, NC Challenger Tour event, reaching the semifinals by the way of two three-set matches.

That could be a negative factor for the American, but he has an advantage against the 38-year-old Verdasco, who has just four wins in ATP main draws this season and has had very little success himself this summer.

In fact, the Spaniard is coming off of an ugly loss to 971st-ranked Koray Kirci in a Turkish Challenger Tour event. That comes on the heels of a loss in the third round of qualifying at the US Open to Pavel Kotov.

Verdasco hasn’t won an ATP main draw match since April, and I don’t expect it to get any better as he adjusts to an event that he has never played at in his career.

Brandon Nakashima vs. Zachary Svajda

This is the biggest mismatch of the day, but also a hometown battle between two players who are from the nearby San Diego area.

Nakashima is my pick to win this event, as he has put together a breakout season in 2022. The American is 21-19 on the season and has had solid success in three of the four Grand Slams.

Naka reached Round 3 of the US Open, looking superb in a straight-set, second-round win over Grigor Dimitrov before taking a set off of Jannik Sinner in his next match. He also reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon (before losing to Nick Kyrgios) and the third round of Roland Garros (lost to Alexander Zverev).

While he’s ranked just 69th in the world, Naka has an elite baseline game, is serving much better and is just 21 years of age.

Meanwhile, Svajda is just 19 years old, but doesn’t nearly have the experience and tour-level success that his opponent has. While he is certainly familiar with Naka’s game, Zach has won just one tour-level match in his career and is playing his first ATP main-draw match of this season.

Svajda is most comfortable rallying from the baseline, where his solid defense comes into play. That favors Naka because Brandon makes very few errors and can dictate any point from both wings.

Svajda doesn’t have much power — both on his groundstrokes and serve — so that shouldn’t be a factor in this match.

And if Naka serves well — which I think he will since he has been all summer — this match could be over quickly.

If you’re betting, take Naka -5.5.

2022 Hamburg Tennis: Preview & Picks for Thursday’s ATP 500 Matches

Alex Molcan ruined my perfect 4-0 record on Wednesday, as the 24-year-old defeated Pablo Carreno Busta in a third-set tiebreaker to advance to the quarterfinals of the ATP 500 event in Hamburg.

Beyond that match, though, there was lacking drama with the other three matches being decided in straight sets.

Now we flip the script to Thursday, when Carlos Alcaraz and Andrey Rublev are in action against their respective opponents.

I have a preview and prediction for all four matches in Germany on Thursday.

Francisco Cerundolo vs. Andrey Rublev

I actually picked against Cerundolo in his opening-round match, as he faced off against Daniel Altmaier, who grew up just four hours or so away from Hamburg.

Cerundolo lost the opening set in that match, but rallied to win thanks to his ability to save eight of 10 break points.

While Cerundolo has played excellent tennis (he won his first ATP event in Bastad last week and took a set off Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon), he’s going to run out of gas at some point. Even though I was wrong about the first round, this seems like a spot to double down on a Cerundolo loss.

Since Rublev wasn’t allowed to play in Wimbledon because of the Russian ban, he hasn’t played a ton of tennis recently. However, he looked strong in his opening-round match against Ricardas Berankis and he did reach the semifinals of Bastad last week.

Also, he has an outstanding 47-28 career record on clay, including three titles.

I expect Rublev to advance.

Fabio Fognini vs. Karen Khachanov

After a couple days to regroup following a dramatic three-setter vs. Jan-Lennard Struff on Monday, No. 7 seeded Khachanov will take on Italian clay specialist Fognini in the second round.

Khachanov — like Rublev — hasn’t played a lot of tennis recently. In fact — unlike Rublev — this is the Russian’s first tournament since mid-June, when he lost in the quarters at Halle.

Karen is an incredibly difficult player to figure out and picking him in any situation is incredibly strenuous because of his knack for blowing leads. He nearly committed his cardinal sin in Round 1, too, as he squandered a third-set break against Struff.

While Khachanov is good on clay, Fognini has always been elite. Obviously this year hasn’t gone as planned for the Italian, but he still reached two semifinals in clay-court tournaments this season.

I have zero trust in Khachanov, and because of that and Fognini’s skills and experience on the surface, I’ll back the Italian.

Carlos Alcaraz vs. Filip Krajinovic

Alcaraz was dealt a scare in his opening-round match vs. Nicola Kuhn, as the German won the first set and pushed the Spaniard to a third-set tiebreaker. The talented 19-year-old prevailed, but it was an odd sight to see him in a close match on his favorite surface to a player ranked outside the top 250.

It’s tough to knock Alcaraz, though, because he was re-adjusting to clay after playing Wimbledon two weeks ago.

Now that he was able to get the first match out of the way, I think Alcaraz mauls Krajinovic in this one.

Krajinovic has produced a solid campaign (17-13 overall) and is decent on clay (34-35 in his career). He also took Carlos to three sets in Croatia last year on the surface, so he has experience against the youngster.

However, the Alcaraz in 2022 is a much different player than the one from last season. He’s greatly matured, and I think he’ll be incredibly focused for this match, given that he wasn’t happy with the result of his first win in Hamburg.

And he’s trying to perfect his German pronunciation, which is a positive sign!

Aslan Karatsev vs. Daniel Elahi Galan

Karatsev is dealing with plenty of off-the-court issues related to a potential investigation into match fixing. He dealt with those distractions pretty well in Round 1 — defeating Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-4, 6-0 — and in Bastad last week (he made the quarterfinals).

But remember, Basilashvili is also involved in these allegations, and Karatsev hasn’t performed up to expectations this year (12-16 overall).

Meanwhile, Galan seems to have something clicking this week. He looked solid in qualifying and defeated clay-court specialist Federico Coria in straight sets in the opening round.

Galan didn’t make it out of qualifying last week in Bastad and lost his opening-round match in a clay Challenger Tour tournament in Germany the week before, though. He also lost four straight main-draw matches on the red surface before this week.

Karatsev might not be entirely focused on the task at hand, but I think his shot-making and skills will be too much for Galan to handle.

Back Karatsev to win — ever so slightly.

2022 Hamburg Tennis: Preview & Predictions for Wednesday’s ATP 500 Matches

It was a wild Tuesday in Hamburg, Germany, as half of the matches went three sets, the No. 1 seed Carlos Alcaraz barely escaped and three seeded players were run off the court.

Wednesday’s schedule of play doesn’t have the same volume or cachet, but it’s still worth previewing and predicting as we get deeper into this 500 event.

Here’s everything you need to know about the ATP matches from Germany:

Ricardas Berankis vs. Andrey Rublev

Berankis was awarded a lucky loser spot after losing to Luca Nardi in straight sets in the final qualifying round. The 32-year-old is ranked outside the top 100, but he actually has played decently this year, taking a set off Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, reaching the quarterfinals of an ATP 500 event in Dubai and snagging a Round of 16 appearance in Melbourne.

Berankis is not very good on clay, though, as he’s 12-29 in his career overall.

Meanwhile, Russians were banned from Wimbledon, meaning Rublev hasn’t played a lot of tennis lately. The No. 8 player in the world was ousted in the semifinals last week in Bastad, but that’s the only tournament he’s played in since mid-June.

Regardless, Rublev should cruise in this match because it’s a surface mismatch. Plus, he’s just much better than Berankis.

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Alex Molcan

While Berankis vs. Rublev is a first-round match, this one is a second-round clash between a consistent veteran and a talented youngster.

Carreno Busta cruised through his opening match vs. Nardi, allowing the Italian to grab just three total games.

Molcan had an extra day of rest, as he beat German qualifier Marko Topo in straight sets on Monday. The 24-year-old has had a breakout season this year, winning two matches at Wimbledon, making the finals in Lyon and Morocco and reaching the Round of 16 at Dubai.

With a 15-6 overall record, Molcan is also dangerous on clay courts.

While this match will likely be very close and is tough to predict, PCB is the much safer play. I’ll back the Spaniard, but the margin isn’t very wide.

Lorenzo Musetti vs. Emil Ruusuvuori

This is the match of the day, as 20-year-old Musetti faces off against 23-year-old Ruusuvuori.

Musetti won his opening-round match on Monday in three sets vs. Dusan Lajovic. Normally, that nearly three-hour match would be a major factor in Round 2, but the Italian had an extra day of rest compared to Ruusuvuori, who played on Tuesday.

Ruusuvuori’s court time wasn’t much shorter vs. his opponent Diego Schwartzman. Even though he won in straight sets, it took him 2:22 to get there.

The Finnish talent doesn’t have a great overall record on clay, whereas Musetti is 24-16 in his career.

But Musetti also hasn’t been in very good form. He played poorly last week in Bastad — losing to Laslo Djere in straight sets — and he’s lost his first match in five straight ATP events, including two majors.

If Musetti is going to do any damage, though, he’s certainly capable in this tournament. Ruusuvuori may be tired and is coming off a big win over Schwartzman. Meanwhile, the Italian is rested and loves this surface.

Give me Musetti.

Borna Coric vs. Tallon Griekspoor

Even though I picked against both of these players on Tuesday, they advanced to face each other in this Wednesday second-round match.

Coric dropped the first set to Laslo Djere before rallying to win in three. Meanwhile, Griekspoor continued to bury the out-of-form Holger Rune, winning 7-6, 7-5.

This is a massive event for both players, as they’ve been mainly Challenger Tour participants this season. It could be a huge breakthrough for either.

This is a toss-up type of match — Griekspoor has the form while Coric has much more experience on the surface.

I’ll back Coric in this spot since he’s played 88 more matches on clay at the ATP level than Griekspoor.

Alejandro Davidovich Fokina vs. Jozef Kovalik

If it’s clay, give me Davidovich Fokina every time. This is his favorite surface, and just look at his results earlier this year in Monte Carlo for confirmation. In that ATP 1000 event, Davidovich Fokina defeated Marcos Giron, Novak Djokovic, David Goffin, Taylor Fritz and Grigor Dimitrov before losing in the final.

He also impressively beat Hurbert Hurkacz at Wimbledon despite owning very little experience on grass.

His opponent here, Kovalik, is 186th in the world and has played just three main draw ATP matches this year. While he beat German wild card Max Hans Rehberg in three sets on Monday, Kovalik’s run in Hamburg ends here.

2022 Hamburg Tennis: Preview & Predictions for Tuesday’s First-Round ATP 500 Matches

After two ATP 250 events crowned champions last week, we move up a step this week in Hamburg for a 500 event.

Day one’s schedule of play was rather thin — with only Karen Khachanov and Botic van de Zandschulp in action as ranked players — but Tuesday is much more loaded, both in terms of the volume of matches and the talent set to take the court.

So, with that in mind, let’s preview and predict all 10 matchups.

Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Luca Nardi

Carreno Busta has been consistent and reliable for years. He’s also a strong clay-court player.

That’s been the case again this year.

The Spaniard reached the semifinals last week in Bastad, made the finals at Barcelona and got to the Round of 16 at Monte Carlo (despite a tough draw). Yes, he’s had questionable results — like an opening-round loss at Roland Garros and a disappointing first-round loss in Madrid — but his overall winning percentage is well above 50% on clay this season.

Meanwhile, Nardi is 18 years old and mainly competes on the Challenger Tour. The only player he’s battled against this year that’s above or even close to the same level as PCB is Cam Norrie, who he faced in Rome and lost 4-6, 4-6 against.

This is too steep of a climb for Nardi, and he’ll be happy that he even reached the main draw.

Carlos Alcaraz vs. Nicola Kuhn

Alcaraz really hasn’t been active as of late, as his last two tournaments are Wimbledon and Roland Garros. But does he really need to be — especially on clay — to beat Nicola Kuhn?

Kuhn is ranked 259th in the world and mainly plays Challenger events. While he did reach the main draw of Wimbledon and took a set off Brandon Nakashima, he’ll have to play the best tennis of his career to beat Alcaraz on the Spaniard’s favorite surface.

Francisco Cerundolo vs. Daniel Altmaier

Cerundolo is in terrific form right now, as he captured his first ATP title last week in Bastad and looked sharp against Rafael Nadal in the first round of Wimbledon.

However, I’m actually going to take Altmaier in this matchup.

Why?

  1. Cerundolo is coming off a full week of tennis. Fading someone coming off a title is normally smart.
  2. Altmaier was born in Kempen, Germany, just four-plus hours from Hamburg. That gives him a “home-court advantage” of sorts, as I’m sure some family and friends will be in attendance.

Those two reasons are good enough for me to back Altmaier.

Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Diego Schwartzman

An extremely gifted ball striker in Ruusuvuori will face off against a player that will grind you into rallies in Schwartzman.

Let’s start with Emil, who is 8-14 overall on the surface of clay in his career. He gave Dominic Thiem a tough test in a first-round match last week, but this is far from his favorite surface.

Meanwhile, Schwartzman was blown out by Carreno Busta last week in Bastad and choked away a match vs. Liam Broady in Wimbledon, so he isn’t in the best form.

However, the Argentine is elite on clay. He’s won three titles in his career on the surface and has won nearly 60% of his matches played.

After winning only one game vs. PCB last week, I’m expecting a bounce-back performance.

Nikoloz Basilashvili vs. Aslan Karatsev

Basilashvili and Karatsev both have issues off the court that they have to worry about. And oddly, the two players who were named in a report regarding match-fixing, are facing off on Tuesday.

With a 12-21 overall record, Basilashvili has had a rough season. It got even worse for the 30-year-old last week when he blew a lead to Hugo Gaston in Bastad before retiring in the second set due to an injury.

There’s good news for Basilashvili, though: he’s won this tournament twice (2019, 2018).

On the flip side, Karatsev — who’s normally not great on clay — won twice last week before falling to the tournament’s eventual champion, Cerundolo.

I know things seem to favor Basilashvili in this blurb — he’s better on the surface and loves this tournament — but I’m going to go with Karatsev.

We all know Basilashvili can be unpredictable, and I’m not comfortable taking him without more insight into his injury.

Tallon Griekspoor vs. Holger Rune

Rune is in really poor form right now, as he’s lost his opening-round match in four straight events. What’s even more concerning is that he hasn’t faced any truly unbeatable players.

He lost to PCB in Halle, Ryan Peniston in Eastbourne, Marcos Giron at Wimbledon and qualifier Marc-Andrea Huesler last week in Bastad.

The positive news is that three of those four matches came on grass, a surface where Rune is just not comfortable in his career right now. In fact, those were his first three ATP matches on the surface.

Meanwhile, Griekspoor is playing totally opposite tennis — he’s in great form. The 47th-ranked player from Holland won a Challenger event last week and is victorious in at least one main-draw match in seven straight events, including two majors.

The negative news is that Griekspoor is not very good on clay — at least in a small sample size.

While form points to Griekspoor winning, I’m going to take Rune. Remember, the 19-year-old recently made the quarterfinals of Roland Garros. He’s too talented and too good of a player to continue to lose in spots he’s supposed to take the next step in. I think he’s due for one here.

Aljaz Bedene vs. Fabio Fognini

We all know Fognini’s love for clay. The Italian has won 224 matches on the surface in his career, owns a nearly 60% winning percentage on the surface and has won eight titles.

Fognini has struggled this year, though. He’s dropped all the way down to 61st in the world and didn’t even make it out of qualifying last week at Bastad. He was even given a lucky loser slot into the draw before falling to Sebastian Baez in straight sets.

Bedene doesn’t nearly have Fognini’s history or success on clay, but it’s considered his favorite surface.

I’m going to go Fognini here, though. He’s 9-1 against Bedene in his career, with nine of those matches coming on clay. He even crushed Bedene earlier this year at Belgrade, winning 6-2, 6-3. The Italian has his number.

Sebastian Baez vs. Filip Krajinovic

Baez was truly sensational last week, defeating Fognini, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, Thiem and Andrey Rublev to reach the Bastad final. He lost to Cerundolo in straight sets, but the 21-year-old showed well in what has been a breakout year for the youngster.

The Argentine is spectacular on clay, as he’s made two finals this year, won Estoril and performed well at Roland Garros.

Baez may be drained from last week, though, so that may be a factor in this match.

Flipping the script to Krajinovic, the 30-year-old is having a solid season. He reached the final at Queen’s Club, won two matches at Roland Garros and is 17-13 overall. Clay is not his favorite surface, but he’s shown he can compete on it.

While I’m going against my own rules (selecting players who are coming off long weeks), I’m taking Baez in this one because I think he’s just on a different level on clay right now. I also think he’ll be motivated after coming up short last week.

Federico Coria vs. Daniel Elahi Galan

I love backing guys who are coming off of qualifying, especially players at the level of Galan.

In fact, not only does Galan have two matches under his belt this week on the Hamburg clay, but he crushed Coria recently, winning 6-2, 6-1 in a Challenger event.

These two have played three times, with Galan winning two. I think he’ll get another victory here.

Laslo Djere vs. Borna Coric

I watched Djere last week vs. Lorenzo Musetti, and he looked superb, using his powerful forehand to his advantage.

We know Djere is fabulous on clay, using a brilliant 71-45 record to his advantage.

But this match will be close.

While Coric has mainly been a Challenger Tour player this year, he’s faced Djere twice, most recently in the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome. In fact, in both of those matches (Rome and Gstaad in 2018), Coric pushed Djere to three sets before losing.

I think Djere wins this one again, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Coric squeaked out a victory.

2022 Newport Tennis Final: Preview & Prediction for Alexander Bublik vs. Maxime Cressy

In Saturday’s semifinals, Maxime Cressy topped John Isner in three sets while Alexander Bublik absolutely rolled Jason Kubler in impressive fashion.

That sets up an interesting final between two big servers.

That’s where we dive in by previewing and predicting this final after a great week in southern Rhode Island.

By the way, I’ve predicted every quarterfinal and semifinal matchup correctly, setting up some pressure of my own for the final.

Alexander Bublik vs. Maxime Cressy (Sunday, 2:30 p.m. ET)

Let’s start with Bublik, who previously reached the finals at this same tournament back in 2019. The result? He lost to a similar big server in John Isner, 6-7, 3-6.

This year, Bublik looks like he’s on a mission. He seems extra focused and was clearly motivated by his 16 double faults in his second-round match vs. Jack Sock. Even though he didn’t play his best against Sock, Bublik was never in real danger of losing that match.

He took that momentum into his quarterfinal clash against Andy Murray, and quickly dispatched the veteran on the Brit’s favorite surface. It wasn’t a surprising result — given how shaky Murray played earlier in the week and the fact he was coming off a slight injury in his previous match against Max Purcell — but it was another boost of confidence for Bublik.

Against Kubler in the semifinals, Bublik looked especially sharp, serving in excellent fashion, using aggressive passing shots to his advantage and picking perfect spots on his drop shots.

His opponent, Kubler, didn’t have the same intensity he showed in previous matches against Felix Auger-Aliassime and James Duckworth, but you can’t take anything away from Bublik’s performance.

When Bublik is in the right head space, he’s easily a top-30 player — with much greater upside. And he’s proving that this week.

Meanwhile, Cressy doesn’t have the same experience as Bublik in Newport — this is his first final at the event — but this is the second final he’s made during this grass-court season and his third overall of the season.

The 6-foot-6 talent didn’t have an easy road to both grass finals, either. In Eastbourne, he defeated Reilly Opelka, Daniel Evans, Cam Norrie and young talent Jack Draper before losing to Taylor Fritz. In Newport, Cressy beat Mitchell Krueger, Steve Johnson and Isner.

His play was also very noticeable in two other grass-court events. In Halle, the American gave Hubert Hurkacz all he could handle. And in Wimbledon, Cressy knocked out Auger-Aliassime in the opening round.

His accomplishments don’t stop on the grass, though. He reached the finals at Melbourne in January — losing to Rafael Nadal — and reached the Round of 16 at the Australian Open.

Cressy’s biggest weapon is his serve-and-volley, so if Bublik can continue to work in magnificent passing shots, it would give Sasha the edge.

However, that’s easier said than done. Cressy is tall and long, and he’s extremely aggressive with both his first and second serve — like Bublik.

This will be a close match. And even though Bublik has looked superb this week, I’m going to favor Cressy in this spot. I’ve been saying since day one of this tournament that he has a really good shot of winning the event, and I’m not going to back down here, especially with his serve-and-volley game keeping everyone he plays off balance.

Cressy is the pick to win the tournament.

Also, please check back in tomorrow evening as we will have takeaways from this event. We’ll also be getting ready for the ATP 500 tournament in Hamburg next week before heading to the start of the United States hard-court season at the end of the month in Atlanta.

2022 Newport Tennis: Preview & Predictions for ATP 250 Semifinals on Saturday

Friday in Newport was a bit anticlimactic, as Alexander Bublik and Jason Kubler defeated Andy Murray and James Duckworth, respectively, in straight sets.

Saturday is shaping up to be much more intriguing, with two big-serving Americans dueling and a red-hot Australian going head-to-head against a talent who is very fond of Newport.

Here’s a preview and prediction for both matchups:

Maxime Cressy vs. John Isner

Two Americans face off in a “serve-bot” first semifinal matchup. 

Cressy relies heavily on an old school serve-and-volley, and he hasn’t been broken yet in two matches at Newport. The 25-year-old cruised through qualifier Mitchell Krueger in his second-round duel before dispatching Steve Johnson in three sets in the quarters.

As you probably know by now, Isner is a four-time champion at Newport. He hasn’t looked all that sharp in this event so far this year, though. While he defeated Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets, he nearly dropped the second set. 

Then against Benjamin Bonzi in the quarterfinal round, “Big John” lost his serve twice in the opening set, blew three match points in set two and needed another five match points in the third to finally finish off the victory.

So, how would I approach this matchup? Well, if you’ve been following our previews all week, you know I’m big on Cressy in this tournament. I’ve been mentioning him potentially winning the event, and I stand by that prediction.

Cressy has played excellent on grass this entire season, and I don’t see him stopping now. Yes, both players have the same strength and normally, you would want to back the player who is better at that particular strength. However, Isner’s shaky form cannot be ignored.

Cressy over Isner.

Jason Kubler vs. Alexander Bublik

Kubler’s run at Newport continued on Friday afternoon when he took down fellow Australian Duckworth in straight sets. 

It wasn’t a surprising result given how Kubler has been playing over the last two weeks or so. He built on a fourth-round performance at Wimbledon by rallying to beat the No. 9 player in the world, Felix Auger-Aliassime, in a dramatic three-setter.

Kubler’s forehand is a nasty weapon and he’s been as clutch as they come this week, always finding a way to win key points or games.

Meanwhile, Bublik defeated Jack Sock in three sets and cruised past Murray on Friday. The elite server was never really in danger vs. Sock, but he did have 16 double faults and dropped the second set. He corrected things vs. the veteran Murray, though, only double faulting five times while converting 12 aces.

I’m honestly torn on this match, but I’m going to say that Kubler’s marvelous run ends here. He hasn’t faced a server like Bublik during this two-week plus stretch. Also, Bublik seems to be motivated and focused on capturing the title this week.

Expect Bublik to advance to the final in the other semi.

2022 Newport Tennis: Preview & Picks for Quarterfinal Round of ATP 250 Event

With Jason Kubler defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in a third-set tiebreaker after a darkness suspension, we now transition to the Hall of Fame Open quarterfinals, where six of the top eight seeds have advanced.

Four matches will be played across two days — two coming on Thursday and two on Friday.

Here’s a preview and prediction for every ATP 250 match.

Steve Johnson vs. Maxime Cressy (Thursday, 11 a.m. ET)

After looking a bit shaky in his opening-round matchup vs. Stefan Kozlov, Johnson was given an extra day of rest thanks to Jiri Vesely pulling out due to a foot injury

Johnson will now face No. 4 seed Maxime Cressy in the quarterfinals in an all-Pac-12 matchup. What do I mean by all-Pac-12? Well, Johnson played at USC — winning two NCAA Singles Championships — and Cressy is an ex-UCLA Bruin, capturing the NCAA doubles title in 2019.

The two have yet to play at the pro level, but both have advantages in this match. Johnson is a former champion at Newport, while Cressy has produced a massive grass-court season, including reaching the final at Eastbourne.

Stylistically, though, Cressy has the edge. Johnson will likely have major difficultly with Cressy’s serve-and-volley approach, which causes problems for opponents, particularly on grass.

I’ve been saying since day one of this tournament that whoever won the Tim van Rijthoven-Cressy matchup in Round 2 (which never happened because TVR was upset) would have a strong shot at winning this event. I’m all in on Cressy, who should capture this match on Stadium Court.

WINNER: Cressy 6-7, 6-4, 6-4

Benjamin Bonzi vs. John Isner (Thursday, 3rd on Stadium Court)

Bonzi looked like he was heading home early in his Round 1 matchup vs. William Blumberg, as the Frenchman dropped the opening set and faced four break points on his first service game of the second set.

Instead, Bonzi showed resiliency he didn’t have at the All England Club, fighting back to defeat Blumberg in three sets. He then quickly dispatched another qualifier, Christopher Eubanks, in Round 2. 

His road as the No. 5 seed in Newport continues on Thursday, with a step up in competition against the No. 2 seed and the four-time champ at this event, John Isner. 

Isner defeated Peter Gojowczyk in straight sets in a second-round clash on Wednesday, but there were some tense moments — particularly late in the second set. 

Obviously, the American has a major advantage in the serve department in this one, and has a lot of experience on this grass. However, as is the case with any player who faces Isner, if you’re able to move the big man around, you stand a chance.

Will Bonzi be able to execute that strategy effectively? It’s easier said than done, especially when you have immense pressure to hold every single service game.

Advantage Isner, although very slightly.

Alexander Bublik vs. Andy Murray (Friday)

The biggest question coming into this match is Murray’s health. The veteran took a tumble during his three-set victory vs. Max Purcell, and was limping significantly while walking off the court at the end of the match. He wasn’t even able to conduct his post-match interview.

Before that moment, Murray looked tired, out of form and vulnerable. He lost the opening set to Purcell — who has played limited main-draw ATP singles tennis — and was down a break in the second. It was only then that Murray adjusted to Purcell’s pace and started to pump himself up with fist pumps, screams and using missed calls as motivation.

Meanwhile, Bublik had ups and downs in his opening match vs. Jack Sock. He defeated Sock in three sets and consistently used wicked passing shots to his advantage, but he also had 16 double faults and looked lost in set No. 2.

If Murray indeed is able to play this match — a day of rest will certainly help him — I’d take Bublik. He’s more fit, has the bigger serve and loves playing on the Newport grass.

James Duckworth vs. Jason Kubler

After a marvelous performance against the tournament’s No. 1 seed, Kubler will now face another fellow countryman in James Duckworth.

Kubler is in excellent form over the last two weeks. He made the fourth round of Wimbledon, blew out Jordan Thompson in Newport’s opening round and came back to defeat a top-10 player in Auger-Aliassime.

Meanwhile, Duckworth doesn’t have a whole lot of experience or success on grass, but he got past two solid opponents — Liam Broady and Quentin Halys — in southern Rhode Island. While the Aussie has played two three-set matches, that shouldn’t be too big of an issue with a day of rest.

As I mentioned in another preview earlier this week, I hate backing or predicting players to win when they’re coming off of an upset or a massive victory. Kubler certainly applies here after beating the No. 9 player in the world, but he’s playing way too good for me not to favor him in this spot.

2022 Newport Tennis: Preview & Picks for Wednesday’s Second-Round ATP 250 Matches

Day two at the Infosys Hall of Fame Open in Newport, Rhode Island had a little more juice than day one, as Andy Murray took Stadium Court, Tim van Rijthoven was stunningly upset and four matches went into three sets.

Wednesday will bring another level to this ATP 250 event. The No. 1 and 2 seeds (Felix Auger-Aliassime and John Isner) headline a stacked lineup on Stadium Court that also features Alexander Bublik vs. Jack Sock and Murray taking on Max Purcell.

Let’s preview and predict every match, as the week continues to heat up (and hopefully the wind slows down) in southern Rhode Island.

Alexander Bublik vs. Jack Sock

This is one of the more intriguing matches of the day, as both Bublik and Sock are incredibly fond of this tournament. 

Bublik has played in this ATP 250 event twice, reaching the finals in 2019 and the semis last year. In an interview with Tennis Channel, the 25-year-old said if he ran the ATP Tour, he’d hold every tournament in Newport, Rhode Island.

Meanwhile, Sock has reached two semifinals and a quarterfinal in singles in southern Rhode Island and won the doubles draw last year with William Blumberg. He’s played in the singles event five times overall and his record is 10-5.

So, who has the edge in the battle between two Tennis Hall of Fame lovers? 

I would say Sock. After watching his match vs. Radu Albot in the first round and his run to the third round of Wimbledon, I can firmly say that Sock is more focused than I’ve seen in a while — if ever. He’s comfortable on grass, and I truly believe he thinks this is a tournament he’s capable of potentially winning.

Bublik’s serve and talent is tough to handle — plus he’s had more rest than Sock — but the same could be said for the American — if he keeps his emotions in check.

I’ll go with Sock to advance.

Max Purcell vs. Andy Murray

Purcell and Murray will have a quick turnaround after both played Tuesday afternoon. 

The Australian participated in a tight, three-set match against Adrian Mannarino that lasted two-plus hours. Purcell showed flashes in that match — despite Mannarino being a tough out on grass — but he also said after the win that he barely slept since winning the Wimbledon doubles title. 

This will be the match that catches up to the 24-year-old wild card. 

Murray cruised through Sam Querrey on Tuesday, giving the American just two games and frustrating him throughout the match. Purcell is a stiffer test, but Murray’s fondness for grass and his abilities on the surface are well known. 

He will continue his run at the Hall of Fame Open with another straight-set victory.

Peter Gojowczyk vs. John Isner

These are two other players who seem to thrive whenever they step on the grass at Newport.

We’ll start with Isner because he’s a fan favorite in southern Rhode Island. “Big John” has won four title in Newport (2011, 2012, 2017, 2019) and his last loss at this event came in 2015 against Rajeev Ram (who went on to win the trophy that year).

On the other side, Gojowczyk reached the quarterfinals last year and was a semifinalist in 2017. While Gojo’s competition was lacking in both of those draws, his biggest victory came against a player with a similar game to Isner, Ivo Karlovic.

That may give the German some hope, but he only has two victories in main draws this year (Brandon Nakashima, Ugo Humbert) and owns a 2-9 overall record.

I don’t see Isner dropping this match, even if Gojowczyk somehow pushes him to three sets.

Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Jason Kubler

The No. 9 player in the world, Auger-Aliassime, was stunned in the first round of Wimbledon — losing in four sets to American Maxime Cressy — but overall, the Canadian loves grass. He’s 22-9 overall on the surface in his career and performed brilliantly during the 2021 grass-court season, reaching the finals in Stuttgart, the semis in Halle and the quarters at Wimbledon. 

This year, though, Felix hasn’t produced great results on the surface.

That could be excellent news for his opponent, Jason Kubler, on Wednesday. Kubler is red hot right now, as he cruised through Jordan Thompson in the first round of this event and had a stunning Round-of-16 result out of qualifying at Wimbledon.

While the 29-year-old is playing some of the best tennis of his career, this is still a significant step up for the Aussie.

Don’t expect Auger-Aliassime to drop a set, as he attempts to avoid losing his first match in two straight events.

Mitchell Krueger vs. Maxime Cressy

I did it. I got sucked into the hype surrounding Tim van Rijthoven. Yesterday, I said van Rijthoven had a legit chance of winning this event — or making it deep — especially if he was able to defeat Cressy.

It turns out I overlooked Krueger, who had more experience at Newport than van Rijthoven. The American converted 63% of his break point chances, stunning the 25-year-old who reached the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, won a set against Novak Djokovic and captured a grass-court title this year.

Now Krueger turns his attention from the joy of knocking off van Rijthoven to another difficult grass-court opponent in Cressy.

Like van Rijthoven, Cressy is having an awesome grass-court season. He defeated Auger-Aliassime in the first round at Wimbledon, reached the finals at Eastbourne (beating Cam Norrie, Daniel Evans and Reilly Opelka in the process) and played Hubert Hurkacz tough in Halle.

Cressy’s serve-and-volley game is perfect for this surface, and I think he (like I mentioned before) has a legit shot at snagging the cup in this tournament.

While I think Krueger’s inspired tennis in Round 1 was something special, I hate backing or taking players coming off massive victories — especially those ranked over 100. Maybe Krueger will prove me wrong again, but I have great faith in Cressy and his serve on this surface.

Jiri Vesely vs. Steve Johnson

This is a very interesting match, as the big-serving Vesely takes on the Newport veteran Johnson. 

Vesely cruised through his match with Feliciano Lopez on Tuesday, while Steve Johnson had some trouble with fellow American Stefan Kozlov on Monday.

As mentioned in Tuesday’s preview, Vesely has had a decent season by his standards. He reached the third round at Wimbledon and made the finals of Dubai by beating Novak Djokovic and Roberto Bautista Agut, among others. 

Vesely is not a very good returner, though. He doesn’t have great fitness and struggles to move when he’s tired (just watch the Tommy Paul match at Wimbledon). He also lost in four sets to Johnson in May in the first round of Roland Garros.

This is an entirely different surface, though. And Johnson didn’t look all that focused or sharp in his first-round matchup. 

In his post-match interview, Johnson did say the first round is normally the most difficult for him. That gives me a bit more confidence in the American, and his history in Newport (he won this tournament in 2018) is also a huge plus.

I’d probably lean Johnson in this one, but it’s a very evenly-matched affair.

Quentin Halys vs. James Duckworth

Two breaks were the difference for Halys in his first-round match on Tuesday vs. Alexei Popyrin. Meanwhile, Duckworth escaped a three-set match vs. British qualifier Liam Broady.

These two have a history together, as they have played three separate times, with Duckworth winning all three. When you look deeper, though, the gap between the two is incredibly thin. Duckworth won two of the three matches in three sets and the other was a 7-6, 7-6 victory.

Also of note, two of these matches came in 2015, all three were on surfaces other than grass and two were not on the ATP Tour.

Halys is due for a win in this spot, and I think he gets it on Wednesday.

Benjamin Bonzi vs. Christopher Eubanks

After having a disappointing performance vs. Jenson Brooksby at Wimbledon, Bonzi didn’t exactly come out motivated in his first-round match in Newport. He lost the first set to qualifier Blumberg, who was playing in his first singles main draw match at the ATP Tour level.

Bonzi came back to win in three sets, but now he must face another qualifier in Round 2. 

This one is Eubanks, a 6-foot-7, 26-year-old from Atlanta, GA who cruised through Dominik Koepfer (as I correctly predicted) in the opening round. 

Eubanks is playing good tennis, and I think he pulls off one more victory against a player who hasn’t looked right over the last couple of matches.

2022 Newport Tennis: Preview & Predictions for Tuesday’s First-Round ATP 250 Matches

Day one of the Infosys Hall of Fame Open at the Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island brought very little drama, as all four Stadium Court matches were decided in straight sets. Peter Gojowczyk pulled the biggest upset of the day (over Ugo Humbert), but the German’s previous results at this 250 event make the score much less surprising.

Regardless, this remains the best field Newport has had in a while, and the depth of Tuesday’s matches prove that statement. Andy Murray is in action, Wimbledon stars Liam Broady and Tim van Rijthoven will take separate courts and first-timers in southern Rhode Island, Jiri Vesely and Feliciano Lopez, duel.

With all that in mind, let’s preview every singles match of the day and offer a prediction for each.

Jiri Vesely vs. Feliciano Lopez

After reaching the third round of Wimbledon, Vesley takes on Lopez as the No. 7 seed in this tournament. 

Vesley is having a decent grass-court season, and is 7-10 overall on all surfaces so far this year. His best week came in Dubai (hard court) back in February, when he reached the finals after defeating Marin Cilic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Novak Djokovic and Denis Shapovalov. 

The 28-year-old from the Czech Republic has a big serve, which will likely keep Lopez on his heels all morning/afternoon.

Lopez’s best surface (stats wise) is grass, as he’s 85-50 overall in his career with four titles. This is his first appearance in Newport, though, and he hasn’t won a main-draw singles match this year (0-8) — no matter the surface.

At this point, it almost seems like Lopez is due for a win. However, we’re going to roll with the player in better form and the one with the more reliable serve.

Max Purcell vs. Adrian Mannarino 

After capturing the Wimbledon doubles title alongside Matthew Ebden, it’s surprising to even see Purcell in Newport. Purcell not only played six doubles matches — including the final this past weekend — but five of those matches went into five sets.

Purcell has to be gassed at this point, and on top of that, he just lost to Mannarino in the first round of Wimbledon. Now, he did win the first two sets of that match, but between a potential lack of energy, a potential lack of motivation and Mannarino’s overall grass experience, this one favors the American.

Mannarino’s best surface is grass, as he won his lone title on the surface and has won 57 overall matches.

Look for Mannarino to cruise in this one.

Sam Querrey vs. Andy Murray

In what is considered the match of the day in southern Rhode Island, two veterans go head-to-head on Stadium Court. 

Querrey has always been solid on grass — where his big serve can flourish — but he’s been in poor form of late. The 34-year-old American was blown out at Wimbledon by Ricardas Berankis in straight sets and lost in the first round of qualifying in Eastbourne.

On the plus side, Querrey is a veteran of Newport, as this will be his eighth appearance of his career. 

But that could prove to be meaningless when you have a first-round opponent like Murray. Murray’s credentials are obvious, and he’s had another good grass season, reaching the semis in Surbiton and the final in Stuttgart.

The Brit is also 7-2 overall against Querrey. Their last meeting came in 2017 — so things have drastically changed for the two since then — but Murray has clearly had the upper hand over the American in his career.

Murray just faced a big-serving American (John Isner) in the second round of Wimbledon and lost in four sets. Maybe he can take something away from that match to turn things around against a poor-man’s version of “Big John.”

Dominik Koepfer vs. Christopher Eubanks

Koepfer has won two main-draw matches all year and has lost his first match in three straight tournaments. He’s also played limited tennis on grass this season.

Meanwhile, Eubanks has the momentum of coming through qualifying.

Koepfer might be due for a win, but I favor Eubanks to advance.

Liam Broady vs. James Duckworth

Broady is a qualifier who could do serious damage in this tournament. The Brit impressed at Wimbledon, coming back to defeat Diego Schwartzman in five sets to advance to the third round. 

Broady carried that momentum over to qualifying in Newport, where he cruised through two matches.

Duckworth only has five overall wins on grass in his career and doesn’t have a main-draw ATP victory this year on any surface.

Mitchell Krueger vs. Tim van Rijthoven

Van Rijthoven has essentially come out of nowhere, and has become a household name for diehard tennis fans on grass. Van Rijthoven won ’s-Hertogenbosch in his home country by defeating Taylor Fritz, Felix Auger-Aliassime and Daniil Medvedev. 

Van Rijthoven then followed that up by reaching the Round of 16 at Wimbledon, taking a set off the eventual champion and best player in the world, Novak Djokovic.

While Kreuger looked solid coming through qualifying, van Rijthoven’s form, ability, talent and one-handed backhand should be too much for the American. 

Remember these words: van Rijthoven has a legit chance of winning this event — or at the very least, make it far — if he can beat Maxime Cressy in Round 2.

Benjamin Bonzi vs. William Blumberg

Bonzi doesn’t have a ton of tour-level experience on grass (7-5 overall), but it’s his best surface winning percentage-wise. At Wimbledon, Bonzi struggled mightily with Jenson Brooksby’s ability to dictate points and move the Frenchman around.

He won’t have that issue against Blumberg. The American played two straight three-setters in qualifying, including a nearly two-hour match yesterday.

Significantly favor Bonzi in this one.

Quentin Halys vs. Alexei Popyrin

Halys and Popyrin have a combined three career wins on grass. Halys is ranked 86th and Popyrin is ranked 85th.

This is as closely contested of a match as you’ll see in the opening round of this tournament, thus it’s one of the most difficult to predict.