Chengdu R2 previews and predictions: Thiem vs. Pella, Fritz vs. Basilashvili

Dominic Thiem will kick off his Chengdu campaign when he takes the court against Guido Pella on Thursday. Taylor Fritz and Nikoloz Basilashvili are also aiming for a place in the quarterfinals.

(1) Dominic Thiem vs. Guido Pella

Thiem and Pella will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers when they clash in round two of the Chengdu Open on Thursday. Their only previous encounter came last year on the clay courts of Rio de Janeiro, where Pella took advantage of a fatigued opponent to prevail 6-1, 6-4. Thiem is more rested now, having played only two lower-level Davis Cup rubbers and one singles match at the Laver Cup (won all three) since the U.S. Open. The seventh-ranked Austrian is 46-20 this season and well on his way to a berth in the World Tour Finals.

Whereas Thiem earned a first-round bye as the No. 1 seed, Pella beat Borna Coric 6-4, 7-6(2) on Tuesday. The 72nd-ranked Argentine is one win away from leveling his 2017 ATP-level record at 15-15. He is in solid but unspectacular form at the moment, with a Challenger title on clay last month and a recent second-round performance in St. Petersburg to his credit. Pella is a scrappy left-hander who will make Thiem work for everything he gets, but in the end the favorite should have too much firepower.

Pick: Thiem in 3

(Q) Taylor Fritz vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili

It has already been an especially productive week for Fritz, who had to qualify just to get into the Chengdu main draw. The 19-year-old American did so successfully with straight-set victories over Aisam Ul-Haq Qureshi and Marco Chiudinelli before defeating Di Wu 7-5, 6-1 on Monday. Ranked 94th in the world, Fritz is an even 12-12 at the ATP level this season and 5-2 in his last seven matches dating back to Winston-Salem (quarterfinals) and the U.S. Open (second round, lost to Thiem 7-5 in the fourth set).

Up next for Fritz on Thursday is a first-ever meeting with Basilashvili, who advanced to the last 16 by getting the best of Viktor Troicki 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 on Tuesday. The 59th-ranked Georgian has earned 25 of 37 career ATP-level match wins in 2017 and he bounced back from a disappointing stretch in between the French Open and U.S. Open with a semifinal showing last week in Metz. Fritz, however, seems to be confident in Chengdu and will likely extend Basilashvili’s recent woes against Americans (1-6 this season, with his lone victory coming over Christian Harrison).

Pick: Fritz in 2

4 Comments on Chengdu R2 previews and predictions: Thiem vs. Pella, Fritz vs. Basilashvili

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