First-round action in Auckland continues on Tuesday, when Ryan Harrison looks to maintain momentum from qualifying. Harrison is going up against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, while Karen Khachanov is facing Yen-Hsun Lu.
(Q) Ryan Harrison vs. Guillermo Garcia-Lopez
Garcia-Lopez and Harrison will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers when they clash in round one of the ASB Classic on Tuesday. Harrison has won all three of their previous encounters and has not dropped a single set in the process. He prevailed 6-3, 7-6(4) at the 2011 Indian Wells Masters, 6-4, 7-5 at the same event one year later, and 7-5, 6-4 this past fall in Shenzhen.
Harrison booked a spot in the Auckland main draw thanks to qualifying victories over Marcin Matkowski and Jose Statham. The 89th-ranked American qualified left and right for ATP events throughout the second half of 2016, although he failed to do so last week in Brisbane (lost to Ivan Dodig). Garcia-Lopez has dipped way outside the seeded range for Grand Slams, as he comes in at No. 74 in the world. The 33-year-old Spaniard got off to a rough start to the season last week in Chennai, where he fell to Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-3. Based on current form and their past history against each other, Harrison should have the edge.
Pick: Harrison in 2
Yen-Hsun Lu vs. Karen Khachanov
Khachanov and Lu are both coming off second-round performances at their respective opening-week tournaments as they head into their first-ever head-to-head contest on Tuesday. In Doha, Khachanov benefited from a favorable draw and ousted wild card Mubarak Shannan Zayid before succumbing to Ivo Karlovic in a pair of tiebreakers. Lu won his Chennai opener over Radu Albot and then fell to eventual runner-up Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 6-3.
This will be somewhat of a “sophomore” season for Khachanov, who broke onto the scene in 2016 with his first career ATP title in Chengdu and climbed to No. 53 in the world (he is currently at a career-high 51st). Thirteen years the Russian’s senior at 33, Lu did major damage on the Challenger circuit last season and registers at a solid 61st in the rankings. Khachanov’s superior firepower will likely see him through what should be a competitive contest.
Pick: Khachanov in 3