2018 ATP Auckland Preview and Predictions: Sock and Isner Tune Up in Auckland
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The hard court ATP 250 in Auckland comes on the heels of a successful week of WTA tennis at New Zealand’s marquee tennis event of the season. Americans make up three of the top four seeds as Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, and John Isner lead the field alongside Juan Martin Del Potro. Here is your look at the draw.
Sock had a hip ailment at the Hopman Cup and went 1-2 for in singles play. After 37 wins last year he has points to defend as he won the Auckland title last season. Presuming he’s fit Sock should begin against Peter Gojowczyk, who opens with qualifier Tim Smyczek. Smyczek had a great run at the challenger tour level to end 2017 but Gojowczyk comes off quarters in Doha. Regardless Sock is talented enough to reach the quarters.
Doha finalist Andrey Rublev takes on fellow next gen star Stefanos Tsitsipas, I’m backing the Greek player because he should be fresher and he showed good form, reaching the quarters in Doha. Robin Haase takes on another young gun, Casper Ruud who tends to be at his best on clay. The Dutchman comes off quarters in Pune but I have Tsitsipas winning this quarter before falling to Sock.
Roberto Bautista Agut faces Michael Venus first up, Brisbane finalist Ryan Harrison or Steve Johnson will follow. Johnson is in poor form, and Harrison should be fatigued so RBA is the favorite to reach the quarters. Jiri Vesely is struggling but he should beat qualifier Radu Albot before falling to Querrey. I’ll back RBA over Querrey in the quarters. Querrey is starting his season after a career 2017 where he won 35 matches.Embed from Getty Images
Del Potro will face the dangerous Denis Shapovalov first up, presuming Shapovalov beats Rogerio Dutra Silva. A healthy Del Potro showed he’s a serious contender last season and he should reach the quarters defeating Shapovalov. Karen Khachanov opens with Yuichi Sugita, while Guido Pella, a semifinalist in Doha, takes on Pablo Cuevas. Khachanov is my pick for the quarters in this open section, with JMDP reaching the semis.
Veterans Isner and David Ferrer highlight the third section of the draw, Ferrer should defeat Yibing Wu, while Isner faces Hyeon Chung or Brisbane quarterfinalist Kyle Edmund. It’s not an easy draw for Isner but I have him beating Chung, and Ferrer or Joao Sousa/Donald Young to reach the semis.Embed from Getty Images
Bautista Agut d. Sock
Del Potro d. Isner
Any of these 4 guys could take the title, but I’m not sure about Sock’s hip (or his desire to make a run in Melbourne superseding this tournament). Del Potro has the most upside so I’ll pick him to take home the title.Embed from Getty Images
Del Potro d. Bautista Agut