Bjorn Fratangelo serves to Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif.
Bjorn Fratangelo serves to Novak Djokovic, of Serbia, at the BNP Paribas Open tennis tournament Saturday, March 9, 2019, in Indian Wells, Calif.|Mark J. Terrill | Associated Press

Tennis: Abrams examines the first round of the U.S. Men’s Clay Court Championship - Querrey v Fratangelo & Garcia-Lopez v Rubin

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Sam Querrey over Bjorn Fratangelo
This match between two Americans will be close. Querrey is the “name” here. He’s been on Tour for 14 years, and as recently as fourteen months ago he was knocking on the door of the Top Ten, being ranked #11. But Querrey possesses neither a well- rounded tennis game, nor the confidence that being ranked that high should give him. That’s because today, the Californian who now lives in Las Vegas is ranked only 71, and still only possesses a great serve and a tough forehand. The rest of his game is suspect, and a lot of players have caught up and passed him by in the past year-and-a-half alone. Fratangelo is a 25-year-old American born in Pittsburgh who is currently ranked #127. But these two guys seem to be going in the opposite direction on the ranking totem pole, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Fratangelo took this match, as it’s on real slow red clay, obviously. They have split their two matches, and both were very close, which means that both know they can win. I’m going with Querrey in this match because he needs this win, and I think he knows it.

Guillermo Garcia-Lopez over Noah Rubin
Guillermo Garcia-Lopez is a 35-year-old Spanish Tour veteran of seventeen years already, and like most Spaniards, he excels on the slow stuff, so he should feel right at home here in Houston on the red clay. He is only ranked 115 now, but he was ranked in the Top 25 at one time, so he has the ability to really bring it. His opponent, Noah Rubin, is a wild card entry from Long Island, NY who is still trying to make a name for himself on the Tour, ranked only #144 at 23-years-of-age. Rubin played one year of college tennis, at Wake Forest in 2015, when he got to the finals of the NCAA Men’s Singles championships. He might have benefitted from another year or two of college tennis, but when faced with the decision to turn pro or play college ball, most players like Rubin realize that playing “no-ad” scoring in college doesn’t prepare them for the Tour, so most who are good enough to do it simply turn pro. Rubin would rather learn to play the traditional way of professional tennis as opposed to trying to excel in a game in which the scoring is so different as to represent a totally dissimilar challenge than pro tennis does. In my opinion Lopez has much too much firepower to go down to the American, and I think the Spaniard will move on.

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