Sydney QF previews and predictions: Troicki vs. Kohlschreiber, Thiem vs. Evans

Viktor Troicki’s bid for a third straight Sydney title will continue against Philipp Kohlschreiber on Thursday. Dominic Thiem and Dan Evans are also aiming for a place in the semifinals.

(5) Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. (3) Viktor Troicki

Troicki and Kohlschreiber will be facing each other for the seventh time in their careers when they do battle in the quarterfinals of the Apia International on Thursday. Kohlschreiber is leading the head-to-head series 4-2, but it is all tied up at 2-2 on hard courts. The two veterans most recently squared off early last season in Sofia, where Troicki prevailed 6-3, 6-4.

Nowhere is the 29th-ranked Serb more comfortable than in Sydney, where he is the two-time defending champion. Troicki’s title defense got off to a strong start in the form of a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Paolo Lorenzi on Wednesday. Kohlschreiber just barely missed out on a first-round bye as the No. 5 seed, but he is through to the last eight thanks to straight-set defeats of Fabio Fognini and Jordan Thompson. This one could obviously go either way, but Troicki should have a slight edge at what has to be considered his favorite tournament.

Pick: Troicki in 3

(1) Dominic Thiem vs. Dan Evans

Thiem was the tour leader in matches played for much of 2016 and he has already said that he wants to get a ton of match practice under his belt in the early stages of this season–and likely in the middle and the end of the season, as well. So it is no surprise that the 23-year-old Austrian played last week in Brisbane (lost to eventual champion Grigor Dimitrov in the quarterfinals) and is back at it again in Sydney. Thiem almost got too much tennis for his liking on Wednesday night, when he outlasted Gastao Elias 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5 in two hours and 39 minutes.

Up next for this week’s top seed is a first-ever meeting with Evans. The 67th-ranked Brit punched his ticket to the quarters by defeating Thiago Monteiro 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 and Marcel Granollers 1-6, 6-3, 6-3. Evans has played even more tennis than Thiem so far in 2016, as he played three singles matches at last week’s Hopman Cup in Perth. Fatigue could be a factor for both players, but the favorite’s ability to win free points with superior firepower may be the difference.

Pick: Thiem in 2

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