Washington, D.C. R2 previews and picks: Del Potro vs. Harrison, Benneteau vs. Fish

Juan Martin Del Potro will kick off his Washington, D.C. campaign on Wednesday against Ryan Harrison. Mardy Fish’s comeback to tennis will continue during second-round action against Julien Benneteau.

(1) Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Ryan Harrison

Del Potro and Harrison will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they clash in round two of the Citi Open on Wednesday. Their only previous encounter came at last year’s U.S. Open, where Del Potro prevailed 6-2, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. The seventh-ranked Argentine has used a mostly clean bill of health to compile a 25-9 record in 2013, which includes a recent semifinal showing at Wimbledon. Del Potro’s last match was an epic five-set loss to Novak Djokovic, whom he upset earlier this season en route to the Indian Wells final.

Harrison is finally heating up after a prolonged slump. The 107th-ranked American reached the semifinals in Atlanta and he opened in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday with a 6-3, 7-5 victory over fellow Atlanta semifinalist Lleyton Hewitt. Harrison served huge last week, but he put in only 55 percent of his first deliveries against Hewitt. The 21-year-old will have to improve that number against Del Potro, who will punish his opponent if he can get ahead early in rallies. Harrison’s defense can stand up to many players, but the offensive power of an in-form Del Potro will likely be too much.

Pick: Del Potro in 2

(12) Julien Benneteau vs. Mardy Fish

Benneteau and Fish will be squaring off for the fourth time in their careers when they do battle in round two on Wednesday. Fish leads the head-to-head series 2-1 and all three of their previous encounters have come on hard courts. In their only meeting since 2004, Fish prevailed 6-4, 6-3 two years ago at the Miami Masters.

Fish, whose last two seasons have been plagued by a mysterious heart ailment, is playing just his second ATP tournament since Indian Wells. The 31-year-old American lost a high-quality Atlanta opener to Michael Russell before scoring a 2-6, 6-1, 6-3 victory over Matthew Ebden on Monday. Benneteau, meanwhile, earned a first-round bye as the No. 12 seed. The 35th-ranked Frenchman, who is making his first appearance since Wimbledon, has not lost his opening match at an event since the Madrid Masters. Fish is playing well despite his rust, but a stellar all-court player like Benneteau could give him too much trouble at this stage of his comeback.

Pick: Benneteau in 3

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