Chengdu QF previews and predictions: Donaldson vs. Istomin, Pella vs. Fritz

Fellow Americans Jared Donaldson and Taylor Fritz have already turned in impressive weeks at the Chengdu Open, and big opportunities await them on Friday. Donaldson is facing Denis Istomin, while Fritz is going up against Guido Pella.

Jared Donaldson vs. Denis Istomin

Donaldson and Istomin will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they collide in the semifinals of the Chengdu Open on Friday. This quarterfinal appearance continues what had already been an outstanding 2017 campaign for Donaldson, who is up to No. 58 in the world at 20 years old. The American has earned 20 of his 31 career ATP-level match victories in 2017 and so far this week he has defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas and Kyle Edmund in three sets.

Istomin’s year went downhill following his stunning win over Novak Djokovic and subsequent fourth-round showing at the Australian Open. The 78th-ranked Uzbek is finally getting back on track now, with quarterfinal performances in Gstaad (late July), Metz (last week), and now Chengdu. Istomin booked his spot in the last eight by beating Jan-Lennard Struff and defending champion Karen Khachanov in straight sets. This stage of tournaments has proved to be Istomin’s undoing, and something similar may transpire this week with Donaldson in stellar form.

Pick: Donaldson in 2

Guido Pella vs. (Q) Taylor Fritz

To say the Chengdu title is completely up for grabs would be a gross understatement. Only one seeded player remains, and it is unheralded Yuichi Sugita. Pella did his best to bust the bracket, ousting No. 1 seed Dominic Thiem 7-6(6), 6-4 on Thursday. The 72nd-ranked Argentine is now an even 15-15 at the ATP level this year and has picked up the pace of late, with a Challenger title on clay last month and a tough five-set loss to David Goffin in round two of the U.S. Open. Pella preceded his victory over Thiem by defeating Borna Coric 6-4, 7-6(2) in the opening round.

Up next for the former world No. 39 on Friday is a first-ever meeting with Fritz. The 19-year-old American has already won four matches in Chengdu, qualifying for the main draw and then taking out Di Wu and Nikoloz Basilashvili. That is a lot of recent tennis for Fritz, who needed three sets to scrape past Basilashvili on Thursday. In what is sure to be a grinding baseline battle, which is exactly what Pella loves, the qualifier may eventually run out of gas.

Pick: Pella in 3

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