R2 previews and predictions: Lopez vs. Monaco, Paire vs. Tipsarevic

Veterans Feliciano Lopez and Juan Monaco will square off in an intriguing matchup on Wednesday in Chengdu. Second-round action is also beginning in Shenzhen, where Benoit Paire is facing Janko Tipsarevic.

Chengdu Open: (PR) Juan Monaco vs. (4) Feliciano Lopez

Lopez and Monaco will be facing each other for the eighth time in their careers when they battle for a quarterfinal spot in Chengdu on Wednesday. The head-to-head series stands at 4-3 in favor of Lopez and it is all tied up at one win apiece on outdoor hard courts. They most recently met early this spring on the red clay of Houston, where Monaco got the job done 6-4, 6-2. This surface, however, should give Lopez a better chance. Additionally, he is still going strong at 35 years old with an impressive ranking of 27th in the world. The Spaniard is 27-19 for his 2016 campaign and recently helped his country return to the Davis Cup World Group by beating India’s Ramkumar Ramanathan 6-4, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 earlier this month.
Monaco has struggled with physical problems throughout his 30s (he is currently 32), plagued especially by a wrist issue. The Argentine is healthy at the moment, however, and back inside the top 100 at No. 93 in the rankings. His hard-court summer included two second-round losses to Andy Murray (at the Rio Olympics and Cincinnati Masters) and a disappointing first-round exit at the U.S. Open to Marcel Granollers. Monaco beat qualifier Hiroki Moriya 6-1, 6-2 on Monday in Chengdu, while Lopez earned a bye as the No. 4 seed. Based on both current form and the surface, Lopez should enjoy a slight edge in this one.

Pick: Lopez in 3

Shenzhen Open: (6) Benoit Paire vs. (PR) Janko Tipsarevic

Because Paire’s rise coincided with Tipsarevic’s recent demise, it may not come as a big surprise to see that they have never gone head-to-head even though they have spent a combined 25 years (off and on) on the pro tour. Tipsarevic’s struggles, highlighted by all kinds of foot problems, began late in 2013 before he disappeared from the sport’s radar screen in 2014. The 32-year-old Serb has finally resurfaced and he should find himself back in the top 200 sooner rather than later–by next Monday, in fact, if he beats Paire. Tipsarevic recently advanced to the second round of the U.S. Open, where he upset Sam Querrey before falling to Winston-Salem champion Pablo Carreno Busta in five sets.

Paire also bowed out of New York in the second round, as he followed up a tough five-set victory over Dusan Lajovic with a four-set loss to Marcos Baghdatis. The 38th-ranked Frenchman has failed to build on major momentum that he picked up throughout the second half of 2015, as he is a mere 22-26 for the season. Paire lost his Metz opener 6-4, 6-3 to countryman Vincent Millot but he managed to scrape past Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-3 on Tuesday in Shenzhen. Tipsarevic made shorter work of Chinese wild card Ze Zhang 7-6(3), 6-4 and this is a great opportunity for him to take his comeback to new heights.

Pick: Tipsarevic in 3

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