Auckland and Sydney previews and predictions

With the Australian Open just one week away, most of the top players in the world are either resting or fine-tuning their games with various exhibition performances in Melbourne. In fact, Jack Sock is the only top 10 player in action this week. The eighth-ranked American is defending his Auckland title and is joined in a strong field by Juan Martin Del Potro, Sam Querrey, John Isner, and Roberto Bautista Agut. A less impressive Sydney draw features 2017 title winner Gilles Muller.

ASB Classic

Where: Auckland, New Zealand
Surface: Hard
: 250
Prize money
: $501,345

Top seed: Jack Sock
Defending champion: Jack Sock

Draw analysis: Auckland should be intriguing right from the start; among the first-rounders are Steve Johnson vs. fellow American and Brisbane runner-up Ryan Harrison, Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Doha finalist Andrey Rublev, Kyle Edmund vs. NextGen Finals winner Hyeon Chung, and Denis Shapovalov vs. Rogerio Dutra Silva (a rematch of what touched off Shapovalov’s 2017 Montreal run). If Shapovalov prevails, he will run into Del Potro—just as he did in Montreal after saving four match points against Dutra Silva. Del Potro, who missed out on the Nitto ATP Finals by one spot, could meet either Isner or David Ferrer in the Auckland semis.

Sock stole the last London spot from Del Potro, Isner, and Pablo Carreno Busta, just to name a few. He may have to be considered the title favorite based on his recent form and because he is the defending champion. Sock’s draw is a favorable one, too, with the only serious threat in his section a fatigued Rublev. Bautista Agut, Querrey, Harrison, and Johnson should battle it out for the right to face Sock in the semifinals.

First-round upset alert: Guido Pella over (6) Pablo Cuevas. The head-to-head series is tied up 2-2, with Pella having won their only previous hard-court encounter at the 2016 Indian Wells Masters. Cuevas was a disaster throughout the second half of last season, while Pella is coming off an outstanding performance in Doha—where he reached the semis before losing a high-quality thriller to Rublev.

Hot: Jack Sock, Juan Martin Del Potro, Guido Pella, Ryan Harrison, Hyeon Chung, Andrey Rublev, Stefanos Tsitsipas

Cold: Sam Querrey, Karen Khachanov, Steve Johnson

Semifinal predictions: Jack Sock over Roberto Bautista Agut and Juan Martin Del Potro over David Ferrer

Final: Sock over Del Potro

Sydney International

Where: Sydney, Australia
Surface: Hard
Points: 250
Prize money
: $468,910

Top seed: Albert Ramos-Vinolas
Defending champion: Gilles Muller

Draw analysis: Perhaps no draw this entire season will be less top-heavy while also featuring so many players that have a legitimate chance at taking the title. Top seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas cooled off last fall and has never been a dominant force on hard courts, while the second-seeded Muller missed the last few months of 2017 due to injury. There is certainly no clear-cut favorite in Sydney. But the tournament’s depth is impressive; among the unseeded floaters are Pune champion Gilles Simon, Brisbane semifinalist Alex de Minaur, Jared Donaldson, Paolo Lorenzi, Fernando Verdasco, Feliciano Lopez, and Benoit Paire.

The top quarter of the bracket is especially tough. Ramos-Vinolas has to open against Lorenzi, who is coming off a resurgent 2017 campaign. Simon will be making a quick turnaround when he runs into the up-and-coming Donaldson, with the winner of that showdown to meet either Kohlschreiber over Daniil Medvedev. Muller’s season opener will likely come against Millman and the bottom quarter also includes Paire, who advanced to the Pune semifinals.

First-round upset alert: Leonardo Mayer over (8) Mischa Zverev. Zverev was relatively hopeless toward the end of 2017, at least compared to what he produced at the Australian Open and U.S. Open. The German’s slump included a 7-5, 7-5 loss to Mayer in Basel. Mayer now leads the head-to-head series 3-1 and all three of his victories have come in straight sets while his only setback was a three-setter.

Hot: Diego Schwartzman, Damir Dzumhur, Paolo Lorenzi, Gilles Simon, Alex de Minaur

Cold: Gilles Muller, Mischa Zverev

Semifinal predictions: Adrian Mannarino over Philipp Kohlschreiber and Diego Schwartzman over Benoit Paire

Final: Mannarino over Schwartzman

Comments and your own predictions are appreciated!

13 Comments on Auckland and Sydney previews and predictions

    • I’m with you about Auckland Ricky,Sock is my pick to make at least the final there.I’ll be rooting for my countryman Sousa to make it again like last year but it will be extremely hard to do so,there are very good players on the bottom half of the draw,like Isner,Delpo and the young guns Chung and Shapo.
      About Sidney,I believe it’s pretty wide open,don’t believe Muller’s gonna win it and it will be hard for Simon to win b2b titles,he’s no spring chicken anymore.
      P.S. I will try to put an eye on tomorrow matches, De Minaur vs. Verdasco and Shapo vs. Delpo,hope we’ll have two competitive matches and we can witness some good tennis.

      • Tough to say. He ended last year prematurely with elbow tendinitis. It’s apparently healed now, but he may be a bit rusty. I think he would have skipped Brisbane if the elbow was still an issue, so I’m glad he is at least back to good health now. The rustiness might explain his getting beat in straights by Chung last week, but Chung was red hot anyways. Unsure about this week for him. He has a tough opener in Millman. Hope my boy Gilles goes far tho 🙏🏼🔥

  1. In Auckland,assuming Sock and Delpo meet in the final,tough to separate them! I think I’ll go for Delpo though,he’s due a win.

  2. Auckland –
    Sock over Tsitsipas
    Querrey over Bautista Agut
    Isner over Sousa
    Del Potro over Pella
    Sock over Querrey
    Del Potro over Isner
    Del Potro over Sock

  3. Sydney –
    Simon over Ramos-Vinolas
    Dolgopolov over Mannarino
    Verdasco over Schwartzman
    Muller over Paire
    Simon over Dolgopolov
    Muller over Verdasco
    Muller over Simon

  4. I think Gilles either loses his first match or wins the whole thing. A final with Simon would be tough, but by then, his serve would be rolling and would be extremely tough to break. All in all, I think the vibes from his first ever title will help him here. Last year, he lost opening round of Brisbane then won sydney. I think he’ll do it again.

  5. In Brisbane, my predicted finalist lost his first match, and my predicted champion won the whole thing. I’m praying it happens again. With the threat Millman poses though, I’m afraid my draw is about to the WOAT 😂 😂

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