Nick Kyrgios came to the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open with a mission, and he left as the champion, after upsetting the favored top seed John Isner on a hot and cloudy afternoon in Atlanta. Kyrgios prevailed in a pair of tiebreaks 7-6 7-6, and he was the player who had the advantage all match, as his aggressive play kept Isner on his back foot, and forced the American into some uncomfortable shots that he couldn’t connect on.
The young Australian now has a pair of ATP 250 titles this season, and despite his usual frustrations, he put on a comprehensive performance against the veteran Isner. Instead of playing in Rio, he’ll now have a week off to prepare for the rest of the Emirates US Open Series, and the US Open where he is a possible dark horse with his big serve.
Isner actually got off to a decent start, generating three break point chances in Kyrgios first service game, but Kyrgios dug deep to hold, and forced break point chances against Isner in two more service games before the match went to a tiebreak. Kyrgios got way ahead in the tiebreak and didn’t look back taking it 7-3.
After Isner took a break and looked ready to go the distance for yet another Atlanta title, he was able to hold his serve all throughout the second set without facing a break point. Kyrgios got to 30-30 up 5-4 with Isner serving, and Isner had a break point chance to break Kyrgios for 6-5, but neither could convert. In the second set tiebreak, there were five straight minibreaks from 1-1. From 2-3 down in the tiebreak Kyrgios won five of the next six points with thunder booming in the distance to take the match. Isner looked unbeatable in Atlanta, but Kyrgios cracked the glass ceiling with his win. He’s the champion in his debut at the tournament.
In the doubles final, Molteni and Zeballos continued their tremendous week as they defeated Brunstrom and Siljestrom 7-6 6-4.
Both Kyrgios and Isner had to come back in their semifinal matches. Kyrgios dropped the second set to Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, but in the end the Japanese young gun couldn’t touch his serve. Nishioka succumbed to Kyrgios 6-3 3-6 6-3. Isner faced Reilly Opelka in a battle of two of the tallest players on the ATP tour. Despite a strong start for Opelka, he wilted in the third set as Isner kept forcing him to hold. Isner won 6-7 6-4 6-2, as Opelka’s serve quality declined as the match went on, and Isner only got stronger.
Young guns Reilly Opelka and Yoshihito Nishioka came away with resounding wins over their veteran opponents to reach their first career ATP semifinals, and setup contests against the #1 and #2 seeds at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open.
Opelka was dominant on serve, and defeated Donald Young 6-4 6-4. The new tallest player on the ATP World Tour won his first ever ATP main draw match this week, and his great form has carried him into the semifinals. Opelka got an early break, as Young continued his trend of having a slow start in matches. After the chair umpire fell ill, forcing a delay in the match, Opelka would go on to avoid some danger and take the opening set without being broken. In the second it was much the same story, Young got tight serving 2-2 and found himself broken. He failed to generate a single break point chance in the set, and Opelka served it out, as his height allowed him to spin serves over Young’s shoulder.
Earlier in the day Nishioka dispatched Horacio Zeballos in just over an hour, by the same score of 6-4 6-4. The newly top 100 player will soon be into the top 70, as he broke Zeballos to open both sets, and didn’t face a break point the entire match. Not only was it a clinical performance for the Japanese player, Zeballos lacked any spark or passion in the match, compared to what he had shown earlier in the week when he was winning.
Nishioka will face big server Nick Kyrgios, as Kyrgios outlasted Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-7 6-3 in a match that went on longer than it should. Kyrgios hit 18 aces, and in the first set he was outpacing Verdasco, and playing at a rapid pace. Verdasco perhaps was dealing with a shoulder or neck injury, or he was struggling with his ball toss, as his first serve was weak on the day, and frequently just a kick serve that was under 100 mph. Kyrgios would go wide on return at times, but Verdasco couldn’t pounce on his opponents big serve, and his shots just weren’t clicking in the first set, as his forehand returns frequently just missed the line.
The second set was a tight affair, Kyrgios had to save a pair of break points serving 3-3, and then failed to break when he had a chance in the next game. The match would go into a second set tiebreak, Kyrgios went off the boil in the second and appeared to lose focus, as Verdasco would fight on and force a third set. Verdasco couldn’t maintain the level needed to win the match though, Kyrgios broke early, fired himself up, and served his way through the rest of the match with ease to secure a hard fought three set victory. This is the second time in their careers that Verdasco and Kyrgios have played a three setter, and both times Kyrgios has prevailed on hard courts.
Top seed John Isner dominated young gun Taylor Fritz 7-5 6-4, as Fritz was physically struggling in his match. It’ll be Isner vs. Opelka in a battle of two of the ATP’s tallest players in the next round. Isner hit 20 aces, and was entirely unbothered on his serve. Despite Fritz fighting to save break points, he was eventually broken, and although Isner got tight and was broken back in a surprise, Fritz couldn’t force a tiebreak and Isner served it out after a second break. In the second set both players held serve until Fritz was broken, and things quickly concluded in a 38 minute second set. It’s simply hard to beat Isner on the fast courts of Atlanta.
In doubles Molteni/Zeballos beat Eubanks/Kennedy, and Brunstrom/Siljestrom beat Monroe/Sitak. The Argentine pairing faces Raja/Sharan in the semis, while the Swedish pairing will face Demoliner/Garcia-Lopez.
Three of the four Thursday singles matches were routine straight set affairs at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open. Nick Kyrgios made his highly anticipated debut in singles against fellow young gun Jared Donaldson in the night match, and he dominated proceedings 7-6 6-3. Kyrgios was strong on serve and he didn’t need much else. Kyrgios saved one break point in the first set, a first set that featured an hour long rain delay, and despite failing to break for the set 6-5 up when given two opportunities, he eased his way through the first set tiebreak.
Donaldson continued to be unable to bother Kyrgios on return, and his own serve wilted in the second set. He went down a double break as Kyrgios upped his game, eager to get off court. Despite getting one of the breaks back, Kyrgios went 5-3 up, and didn’t need to serve again, breaking Donaldson easily to take the match and reach the quarterfinals.
Kyrgios will face another fan favorite, veteran Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals. Verdasco broke Julien Benneteau four times in a resounding 6-1 6-3 win and he’s been playing great through two matches in Atlanta. Benneteau was dispatched in less than an hour, and never troubled Verdasco on serve, failing to generate a break point.
The #4 seed Alexandr Dolgopolov wasn’t entirely fit this week, and it showed, as he struggled through a three set loss to the upstart Japanese player Yoshihito Nishioka. Nishioka prevailed 6-3 2-6 6-1, as the first and third sets were over in less than 30 minutes. Dolgopolov failed to produce break points against a breakable Nishioka in either set. The second set saw Nishioka suddenly lose form, but despite that, he didn’t waver heading into the third, and Dolgopolov’s fitness issues revealed themselves, with the Atlanta heat not helping. Dolgopolov and his teammate Sergiy Stakhovsky later withdrew from the doubles match they were scheduled to play against Raja/Sharan.
Argentina’s Horacio Zeballos continued his great run of form in Atlanta this week, as he dispatched Tobias Kamke 6-1 6-4. Kamke got off to a slow start, and Zeballos, who isn’t a great server, wasn’t really under pressure in his service games throughout the match.
In the lone doubles match played Thursday, Demoliner/Garcia-Lopez defeated Marray/Shamasdin.
Six matches on tap for Friday
The doubles matches on Friday will be Eubanks/Kennedy vs. Molteni/Zeballos, and Brunstrom/Siljestrom vs. Monroe/Sitak. in Singles Zeballos faces Nishioka, Verdasco will be opposite Kyrgios, and a pair of All-American battles will take place with Opelka facing Young, and Isner taking on Fritz in the late match.
Fritz, Opelka, and Young Score Comeback Wins at 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic\
Three of the four ATP main draw matches at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open on Wednesday featured comeback wins, and all four matches featured American winners advancing to the quarterfinals.
Taylor Fritz struggled with shoulder pain early in his match against Bjorn Fratangelo, and the underdog Fratangelo was able to pounce on him, taking the first set 6-4. Fritz came back however, winning the match 4-6 6-3 6-2, as in the end, his superior power and groundstrokes outpaced a dogged Fratangelo. Fritz had to save break points serving for the second set and he dropped serve once in the third, as his serve was never strong in the match, something that is a cause for concern going forward.
Fritz’s best man at his wedding, Reilly Opelka, scored the best win of his career on Wednesday afternoon over Kevin Anderson 6-7 6-3 7-5 in comeback fashion. The matchup with Anderson was like playing a more experienced copy of himself for Opelka. Both players were confident in their powerful serving given their height, and their movement, and forehand were also solid for men of their size, despite not being elite movers or baseline battlers. Opelka has made huge strides this season and he’s into his first ATP quarterfinal.
Anderson was shaky on the day, as he has been all season, and perhaps not feeling 100%, as he took a medical timeout in the first set after saving four break points in the game after he was broken back after an early break. Opelka had to save two set points in the first set and then force a tiebreak, Anderson’s superior experience showed in the tiebreak as he took it.
Opelka was determined to not end up in another tiebreak. After getting frustrated at a perceived delay in the match by Anderson, Opelka channeled that frustration to get an early break, and despite going 0-40 down serving 4-2, the American dug out a hold, and went on to take the second set and force a third in routine fashion.
In the third it looked like Anderson would pull away and take the match as expected, he got a break after saving three break points on his serve, and he was 5-2, and eventually 5-4 up, as Opelka held the next game at love. However, Anderson got tight, and after missing two match points on his own serve, he surrendered the game on Opelka’s fourth break point chance. His consistency was lacking, and he couldn’t connect on an ace serve when it counted. A disappointed Anderson was broken in his next service game, and Opelka had a routine hold to capture the big win in three long sets.
Donald Young earned yet another comeback win, as he beat Tim Smyczek in a close battle 4-6 7-6 6-3. Smyczek had every chance to close out the match, but failed to do so. The first two sets saw seven breaks of serve in total, and Smyczek looked to be in the drivers seat, a set and 3-1 up, but Young fought back, and when it mattered he found another level in the tiebreak, taking it 7-1. In the third set, Smyczek went away, as Atlanta’s Young dominated proceedings, winning most of the baseline rallies to get a break, and force more pressure on Smyczek’s serve later in the set. Smyczek never challenged Young in the third set, and it’s Young in the quarterfinals as a result.
John Isner, the top seed, was the only player to have it easy on Wednesday. He rolled past a frustrated Adrian Mannarino 6-4 6-0. Mannarino pushed hard early, and got a break against Isner, who perhaps looked destined for a three set battle, but the Frenchman would concede the break under pressure from Isner, and then get broken in his next service game to drop the set. At this point Mannarino looked at a loss in terms of what to do with Isner’s serve, and after failing to convert three break point chances, and getting broken in the next game, Mannarino gave up the match,winning just three more points from 2-0 down in the second, as he gave Isner a surprising bagel. From 4-2 down, Isner won eight straight games to put Mannarino to bed.
The #2 and #4 seeds, Alex Dolgopolov, and Nick Kyrgios, will make their start in Atlanta on Thursday. Dolgopolov faces a tricky opponent in Yoshihito Nishioka, in a match that should feature some great movers. Kyrgios gets the late match against popular American Jared Donaldson, who is also upset minded.
Fernando Verdasco faces fellow veteran Julien Benneteau, and Horacio Zeballos will look to keep his good form going against Tobias Kamke in the two other singles matches. In doubles, Dolgopolov and Sergiy Stakhovsky will face Raja/Sharan, while Marray/Shamasdin face Demoliner/Garcia-Lopez.
Garcia-Lopez Upset, Verdasco Advances, Tuesday at 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic\
The Spaniards at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, and Fernando Verdasco had mixed results on Tuesday when both were in action on stadium court. A lengthy rain delay made the match between Garcia-Lopez and Horacio Zeballos take most of the afternoon, as Zeballos prevailed in an upset victory 6-3 6-7 6-4 over the Spaniard in two and a half hours of match play.
Both players got off to a shaky start, but were able to hold their serves until the eight game of the match, where Zeballos broke Garcia-Lopez, and held the next game at love to capture the first set. Garcia-Lopez struggled mightily with his serve all match, his first serve percentage was under 50%, and the quality of his serves was lacking. Both players also hit a number of slow, and high spinners from their backhand side, as they didn’t seem entirely comfortable on hard court compared to clay. The hot conditions also took their toll on the volunteers, as well as the players, as a ball girl passed out in the first set, causing a delay.
Despite his troubles on serve, Garcia-Lopez didn’t waver in the second set, saving a break point in his opening service game, and breaking Zeballos, who also served poorly, but methodically, to go up 3-1. Zeballos would break back, but had to save four set points to send the match into a second set tiebreak. Zeballos lost three straight points from 5-4 up in the tiebreak, and the match was sent into a third set.
Garcia-Lopez played a poor third set however, as he was broken at love with a miserable game serving 1-2, and Zeballos would go 5-4 up, before rain came, and the Argentine had to wait over an hour to try to serve the match out. He was broken easily when the players returned to court, and Garcia-Lopez was given a second life, however, he was broken and lost the match in the next game serving 4-5, as Zeballos converted his second match point/break point opportunity. The frustrated Garcia-Lopez slammed his racquet on the ground, as Zeballos let out a roar of excitement. It was just not to be for GGL on the day. The win improves Zeballos to 11-5 in hard court matches this season, and he has reached the second round of an ATP main draw for the second tournament in a row.
Fernando Verdasco had better luck on the day against Dusan Lajovic, winning 7-6 6-4. A cagey match saw neither player earning a break point chance early and the first set going to a tiebreak. Verdasco took the initiative when needed, and then broke Lajovic midway through the second set, and held serve after facing two break points in the next game to go up 4-2. Lajovic was nearly ousted quicker than he was as he could have went down a double break, but he saved three break points to hold, and Verdasco went on to serve it out 6-4. Verdasco’s forehand was all he needed to dictate play on a hard court and smack winners when needed.
French veteran Julien Benneteau played his best match of the season to earn a 6-4 6-2 win over J.P. Smith. Benneteau has just two ATP main draw wins this year now, but his game has clearly picked up. Benny didn’t face a single break point, as Smith meekly conceded three breaks in total and was wiped off the court.
Lucky loser Tobias Kamke made the best of his luck after the withdrawal of Ivan Dodig, upsetting Sergiy Stakhovsky 7-6 7-6 to reach the round of 16 in two hours. Stako blew two set point chances in the first set tiebreak, and he faced pressure on his serve most of the day, as his serve and volley skills were lacking consistency, while Kamke was more consistent with his groundstrokes on the day. Stako’s struggles this season continued as his high risk style of play saw him getting passed at the net when it mattered. Stako was playing better in the second set and went up 4-2, looking prepared to force a third set, but he was broken back in the next game, and had to save break points serving 4-4 and 5-5 to eventually force a second set tiebreak. Kamke dominated that tiebreak, going 5-0 up, and he would eventually take it 7-2.
Yoshihito Nishioka showed signs of improvement in dealing with American heat, as he got past Dan Evans 6-2 6-7 7-6 in a match that also saw a lengthy rain delay late in the third set that paused play for over an hour. In Washington, Nishioka wilted in the hot conditions, but this time it was Evans struggling with his fitness, as the British man earned no break point chances in the first set, and was broken twice with relative ease, including at love serving 2-5. Evans went down a set and a break twice in the second set, and looked ready to hit the showers when he was 4-2, and 5-3 down.
Nishioka got tight serving the match out and after having to save three break point chances against Evans, he found himself dominated in the second tiebreak, going down 4-0, and losing it 7-2. Nishioka had two more bp chances early in the third, and rain came at 4-3 in the third. Nishioka found himself broken when he returned to court, and Evans had three match point chances from 40-15 up in the next game. However, Nishioka’s speed got him back into the match, and after saving a fourth match point chance in his next service game, Nishioka converted his second match point chance to take the victory in three hard fought sets to the delight of a few local Japanese fans.
Last, but certainly not least, Americans Taylor Fritz and Bjorn Fratangelo were big winners on the day. Fritz dominated college standout Austin Smith 6-2 6-2, despite loud chants for Smith throughout the match. The young American’s power from the baseline was too much for the Georgia Bulldog. Fratangelo rolled past Igor Sijsling 6-1 7-6. Early in the first he broke, and had to save six break point chances in an extremely long first service game, but Sijsling wilted from there. Fratangelo went a set and a break up, although he couldn’t serve it out, the Dutchman never really got a shot at a third set, as the American had the match in hand.
In the lone ATP doubles match on the day, Chris Eubanks and Zack Kennedy upset Thiago Monteiro and Nishioka in a narrowly fought third set tiebreak, as the pairing of local NCAA players produce some late magic to stay in the tournament.
Americans will feature in all of the four singles matches that are set to take place today at the BB&T Atlanta Open. Big men Kevin Anderson and Reilly Opelka will battle with their big serves, while Tim Smyczek and Donald Young fight it out for a much needed quarterfinal berth after that. In the night session, John Isner starts his quest for a fourth ATP Atlanta title against Adrian Mannarino, and Fritz will face Fratangelo in a battle of young Americans. Five ATP doubles matches will take place as well.
Monday at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open featured a host of close matches as multiple players pulled their matches back from the brink to prevail and reach the second round. Tim Smyczek started the day with a remarkable win over Thiago Monteiro in nearly two and a half hours. Smyczek struggled to find the range on his first serve in the match, and despite breaking Monteiro back after going down a break 5-4 in the first, he was broken again in a long game that saw Monteiro convert his fourth set point opportunity on return.
Monteiro looked set to charge into the next round, and was up 7-5 5-3 but Smyczek got up 0-40 in the next game, and broke on his third break point opportunity. Smyczek would go on to serve for a third set, only to be broken himself at love to force a second set tiebreak. Monteiro never saw a match point, as Smyczek pulled it out 7-5. At this point the heat was taking its toll on the Brazilian. Smyczek got an early break, and improved his serve to take the match 5-7 7-6 6-3 an hour after he looked likely to exit in the opening round.
Joining Smyczek in round 2 are fellow Americans Reilly Opelka, Donald Young, and Jared Donaldson. Opelka won a nail biter over GA Tech’s Chris Eubanks 7-6 7-6 for his first ever ATP main draw win. Eubanks struggled to deal with Opelka’s pulverizing serve and height, as he didn’t generate a break point chance in the match, and failed to convert on his set point chances in the first set tiebreak. Opelka has shown major improvements since he played in Atlanta last year.
Atlanta’s Donald Young nearly suffered Eubanks fate, but he prevailed 3-6 7-6 7-5 over Austin Krajicek in two and a half hours. Young had chances to break Krajicek in the first set, and to break back after he went down a break, and Krajicek was serving for the first set, but he couldn’t convert. In a nip and tuck second set, only Young had a break point chance that he couldn’t convert. Krajicek had two match points in the ensuing second set tiebreak, including one on his own serve, but Young finally converted on his fourth set point to keep the match alive.
Krajicek didn’t give up the fight, and in the third set he was up 3-1 and 5-3, but he was broken serving for the match, and in his next service game, as Young narrowly came back to the match 7-5, winning the final four games of the match in the process. Despite being the favorite, it was a surprising result for Young to come back from the brink of defeat.
Jared Donaldson rolled past Sam Groth, who looks destined to be back on the challenger tour after yet another ATP main draw loss. Groth did nothing with his return games, and was shaky enough on serve to allow Donaldson to pounce on him and win 6-2 6-4, in a match that was more of a blowout than even the scoreline would suggest. Donaldson saved the only break point he faced in the match.
Last but not least, Adrian Mannarino ousted qualifier Mischa Zverev 6-3 3-6 7-6 in yet another close match that went over two hours. Mannarino had to save two break points and went on to break in the next game to eventually take the first set. His baseline rallying kept Zverev under pressure, but the German responded well, saving break points early in the second, and finally converting on his third break point chance of the set to serve for a third set at love. Zverev would have two more games with a break point chance in the third set, he broke Mannarino at love to serve for the match, but was broken on Mannarino’s fourth BP chance. Mannarino got ahead in the tiebreak, winning every point from 3-3 in the final set breaker to take it 7-3.
In ATP doubles Demoliner/Garcia-Lopez dominated Kamke/Lajovic in straight sets, and Dolgopolov/Stakhovsky defeated fan favorites Frawley/Kyrgios to reach the next round.
The singles matches tomorrow are highlighted by serve and volleyers Stakhovsky and Rogers Cup doubles champion Ivan Dodig facing off, along with Fernando Verdasco vs. Dusan Lajovic. Other matches include Garcia-Lopez vs. Zeballos, Evans vs. Nishioka, Benneteau vs. Smith, Sijsling vs. Fratangelo, and young gun Taylor Fritz vs. NCAA player Austin Smith. The winner of that match, and Fratangelo both have their chances to add more Americans to the round of 16.
Eubanks/Kennedy vs. Monteiro/Nishioka will also be contested tomorrow in doubles.
Georgia Tech’s Christopher Eubanks will be facing wild card Reilly Opelka in his ATP debut, after he qualified on Sunday at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open. Eubanks stunned the top seed in qualifying, Thiago Monteiro 6-4 7-5, and he’s had to win more matches than any other player to get this far, as he also won the pre-qualifier. Eubanks was strong on his serve in the match, he got a break early in the first, and saved a break point serving for the first set. In the second set he earned a crucial late break after Monteiro had broken him back when he was serving 4-3. Monteiro had a set point/break point opportunity when Eubanks was serving 4-5, but he couldn’t convert it, and Eubanks closed the match out on his second match point chance. Monteiro was suffering from cramps during the match.
Joining Eubanks in the main draw are Austin Krajicek, Mischa Zverev, and J.P. Smith, as final round qualifying matches saw some upsets on the day besides Eubanks big win. Krajicek slipped past James Duckworth 3-6 7-6 7-6, barely prevailing in a match that featured a lengthy rain delay. Zverev won a close match against Nicolas Meister 7-6 7-5, and Smith upset Tobias Kamke 7-6 6-3, as all of the matches today were close ones.
Krajicek faces fellow American Donald Young in the main draw, Smith will face veteran Julien Benneteau, and Zverev has a winnable match against Adrian Mannarino. Monteiro made the main draw as a lucky loser, as Rajeev Ram withdrew. He will face Tim Smyczek in the opening round.
The schedule for tomorrow features Monteiro vs. Smyczek, Groth vs. Donaldson, Krajicek vs. Young, and Eubanks vs. Opelka, along with Mannarino vs. Zverev in terms of singles matches.
ATP Doubles Draw
Ivan Dodig and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi are the top doubles seeds, they open with Jonathan Marray and Adil Shamasdin. The winner of that match will get Kamke/Dusan Lajovic or Marcelo Demoliner/Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
The big server Sam Groth has teamed up with veteran Eric Butorac, they face Swedes Johan Brunstrom/Andreas Siljestrom in round 1, with Dan Evans/Ken Skupski or Nicholas Monroe/Artem Sitak to follow.
Alex Dolgopolov and Sergiy Stakhovsky, Ukraine’s #1 and #2, face James Frawley and Nick Kyrgios on Monday, with Purav Raja/Divij Sharan or Jonathan Erlich/Mariusz Frystenberg to follow.
Mate Pavic and Robert Lindstedt are the #2 doubles seed, they face Andres Molteni and Horacio Zeballos in their first match, with an alternate doubles team or Eubanks/Zack Kennedy of Georgia Tech and Georgia State Universities to follow.
2016 ATP Atlanta Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The only ATP tournament this week is the final stop before Rio, the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open. Tennis Atlantic will have live coverage all week once again this year.
BB&T Atlanta Open
ATP World Tour 250
Atlanta, GA, USA
August 1-7, 2016
Prize Money: $618,030
Top 4 seeds (Who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: John Isner (16)
2: Nick Kyrgios (19)
3: Kevin Anderson (34)
4: Alexandr Dolgopolov (38)
A pair of top 20 players highlight the field in Atlanta, and rankings drop much lower from there.
First round matchups to watch:
(Q)Chris Eubanks vs. (WC)Reilly Opelka
Both these young Americans have promise, and Eubanks will have home support and momentum after qualifying. Still, the tall Opelka is continuing to develop nicely and looks to have a future perhaps on par with top seed John Isner, who shares the big frame of Opelka.
Sergiy Stakhovsky vs. Ivan Dodig
Stako has a h2h win over Dodig, who has lost four straight matches and is in terrible form. Stakhovsky has just two hard court wins this year at the ATP level, but Dodig has the same poor record, and thus Stako should have an edge in this match between serve and volleyers.
Groth has two wins against Donaldson, but he’s had an awful season and has lost three straight matches. The massive server has done little to develop the rest of his game, and has just two hard court wins at the ATP level this year. Donaldson qualified in both Washington and Toronto, and he’s six of his last eight matches, including a round of 16 result in Toronto. With Donaldson playing this well, it’s time he got his first win against Groth and continued his strong run of recent results.
Three-time defending champion John Isner is one of the favorites to take home a record fourth title in Atlanta. The American #1 will open with either Adrian Mannarino or qualifier Mischa Zverev as he looks to improve on his pedestrian play as of late. Isner is just 9-6 on hard courts this year, a poor record for him, but Mannarino isn’t in great form, and thus Isner should advance to the quarters like he did in Washington.
Memphis finalist Taylor Fritz hasn’t been playing well lately and has just two ATP wins since the end of the clay court season. Regardless, he’ll be the favorite against UGA’s top player Austin Smith, a wild card making his ATP debut, and he also should defeat either Bjorn Fratangelo, or Igor Sijsling, both of whom are challenger level players. Isner over Fritz is a safe pick in the quarters given Fritz struggles with consistently big servers like Isner.
Kevin Anderson has had a poor season, but he played surprisingly well in Toronto, reaching the quarterfinals, and should be able to continue that positive momentum if he can stay healthy. Anderson should get young gun winner of Eubanks/Opelka, then defeat Donald Young/Austin Krajicek or Tim Smyczek/Thiago Monteiro, probably Young, to reach the semifinals. Smyczek qualified in Toronto, and has an outside shot at the quarters. Young rarely plays well at home in Atlanta, but he’s been in decent form recently, and Krajicek came through qualifying.
Nick Kyrgios is playing just his third ATP 250 of the season, and making his debut in Atlanta. The young Aussie is 26-11 on the year, but he comes off an abysmal loss to teenager Denis Shapovalov in Toronto where he showed a complete lack of effort, and was poor on serve. If Kyrgios plays up to the level he’s capable of, he should cruise past Donaldson or Groth, and then most likely Fernando Verdasco in the quarterfinals, but he could be headed for another early exit if his head isn’t in the right place.
Verdasco is playing for the first time since Wimbledon and he wasn’t in great form the last time he played. Still he’s 18-14 on the season and his experience and ability outweights Serbian Dusan Lajovic, who is poor on hard courts, and his round 2 opponent, either Julien Benneteau, or qualifier J.P. Smith. Benneteau has been terrible this year as the French veteran has struggled to return from injury. Kyrgios should be able to power past Verdasco given a previous h2h win last year on hard courts.
Alexandr Dolgopolov will have to deal with hot conditions, and he’s won just one of his last three matches, but the inconsistent shotmaker is still the favorite to reach the quarterfinals out of his section. Dan Evans showed promise at Wimbledon and Washington, but he comes off a challenger match loss, and faces off with Japanese speed demon Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round. Nishioka could knock off Evans, as he showed good form in recent challengers. Evans is a bit of a dark horse, but Dolgopolov over Evans is my bracket pick.
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez hasn’t had a great season, but Horacio Zeballos is a dirtballer who doesn’t play well on hard courts, and his round 2 opponent would be either Stakhovsky or Dodig, both of whom have been awful this season. Although Stakhovsky is another possible dark horse, Garcia-Lopez should reach the quarterfinals, before most likely falling to Dolgopolov’s shotmaking. He’s 3-1 against Dolgo, but those wins did not come on hard courts, Dolgopolov’s best surface.
Evans showed tremendous promise in a comprehensive upset of Grigor Dimitrov in Washington. With an open field, and an open section of the draw, a big win over Dolgopolov would give Evans a shot to go as far as the semifinals without facing either of the top two seeds who are the real threats this tournament.
Semis Isner d. Anderson
Kyrgios d. Dolgopolov
Isner hasn’t been playing well, but he always gets rejuvenated playing in front of friends and family in Atlanta, along with the raucous crowd. Anderson could knock him off given his recent form, but I can’t expect it. Kyrgios is a strong favorite to make the final if he doesn’t lose his focus.
Final Isner d. Kyrgios
It’s hard to pick against Isner in Atlanta if he’s healthy. Isner having a h2h win last year on hard court also works in his favor.
Seeds Advance In Saturday Qualifying at BB&T Atlanta Open 2016 Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The seeds advanced to final round qualifying at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open, as most of the matches were routine straight set affairs on a Saturday that was interrupted by intermittent rain showers.
ATP veterans Tobias Kamke and Mischa Zverev won the by the exact same score of 6-4 6-2 on the day, over Michael Mmoh, and Matt Reid respectively. Neither player was broken in their matches as they both got necessary breaks to gain quick wins and get out of the heat. Australian James Duckworth made the final round qualies after a 6-2 6-2 victory over Juan Ignacio Londero. Fellow Aussie J.P. Smith joined him as Smith rolled past Andrew Carter 6-3 6-3. The lone South American success on the day, Brazilian top seed Thiago Monteiro dominated the young Trent Bryde 6-0 6-2.
Americans Chris Eubanks, a Georgia Tech player, Nicolas Meister, and Austin Krajicek also advanced to final round qualies in tighter matches. Eubanks upset Tommy Paul 6-2 7-5, as he scored a late break when the match looked headed for a third set. Meister slipped past Alexander Sarkissian 5-7 6-3 6-4, and Krajicek beat an in-form Lloyd Glasspool 7-6 4-6 6-4 in the tightest match of the day.
In final round qualifying matches, Kamke will face Smith, Monteiro faces Eubanks, Zverev will be opposite Meister, and Krajicek and Duckworth will battle it out. Kamke, Monteiro, Zverev, and most likely Duckworth will be favorites to qualify for the main draw.
2016 BB&T Atlanta Open Qualifying Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A full field of 16 qualifying participants will contest the four main draw qualifying spots at the 2016 BB&T Atlanta Open starting on Saturday. Here is a preview with predictions as a week of tennis in Hotlanta kicks off.
The nearly top 100 Brazilian Thiago Monteiro is just 22, and has had a career best year on clay this year, although he’s barely played on hard courts. Monteiro has had success at both the challenger and ATP level, and is the favorite to qualify past high schooler Trent Bryde, who won a qualifying match last year in Atlanta, and the winner of Tommy Paul/Chris Eubanks. Paul is nearly in the top 200, and faces the wild card winner Eubanks of Georgia Tech. Monteiro vs. Paul is an intriguing final round qualifying match that probably favors the Brazilian.
The formerly top 70 Tobias Kamke should be good enough to defeat a struggling Michael Mmoh, who has lost his last four matches, and either J.P. Smith or journeyman Andrew Carter. Smith is a capable player, although he’s endured a tough season, and Kamke has an all-court game.
Lloyd Glasspool has been in great form and comes off consecutive challenger quarterfinals, he could surprise and qualify if he can upset a struggling Austin Krajicek, and then get past James Duckworth or Juan Ignacio Londero. Duckworth is my pick to qualify here as he did in Washington though as he’s the strongest player in this section.
Both Alex Sarkissian and Nicolas Meister could use a win in their opening round match that could go either way. Veteran German and former top 100 player Mischa Zverev opens with a struggling Matt Reid, and he’s my pick to qualify from this section given almost everyone is in poor form.
There is your look at the 2016 qualifying field for the BB&T Atlanta Open, stay tuned to Tennis Atlantic this week for more updates on the ATP action.