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Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after defeating Switzerland’s Roger Federer at the Australian Open. He’s now in Portugal. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein).
Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas celebrates after defeating Switzerland’s Roger Federer at the Australian Open. He’s now in Portugal. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein).|Associated Press
Tennis

Tennis Wednesday: Abrams picks the Estoril Open’s Round of 16: Tsitsipas v Andreozzi, Millman v Domingues, Monfils v Opelka, Chardy v Fokina

The matches from Portugal start at 8 am EDT

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Millenium Estoril Open
Estoril, Portugal
Wednesday, May 1, 2019
Round of 16

Stefanos Tsitsipas over Guido Andreozzi
Last week, most of the tennis world focused on Rafa Nadal falling for the second week in a row on red clay, this time to Austria’s Dominic Thiem 6-4, 6-4 in Barcelona in the irony of ironies, on a court named after him, That drubbing came right after he dropped a straight set mess of a loss to Fabio Fognini the week before in Monte Carlo, so it was big news. But there was other news to report. In addition to Nadal going down, the Barcelona Open also saw world’s No. 3 Sascha Zverev lose in his first match to Chile’s lucky loser Nicolas Jarry, the grandson of former Touring pro Jamie Fillol, Canadian Denis Shapovolov fell in his first match to Cristin Garin, France’s Gilles Simon dropped his initial match to American Mackie McDonald, Russian Karen Khachanov was tripped up by Guido Pella in his first match, Belgium’s David Goffin suffered a first match loss to Jan-Lennard Struff, and Stefanos Tsitsipas lost a Round of 16 matchup with the very same Struff. Not that the Greek’s loss to Struff was all that horrible, nor was it unheard of, considering that all the pros are just getting used to the red clay that they have switched over to from the indoor and outdoor hard courts they’ve been playing on the past three months. Last week Guido Andreozzi won a round in the Barcelona qualies over “old man” Tommy Robredo (who turns 37 today) 7-6 in the third and then bowed out to 107th ranked Pedro Sousa, from Portugal, 4 and 2. Frankly, I think the rest of his peers going out early should benefit Tsitsipas, as he’s only 20-year-old, and still getting used to the hectic pace of going from one city to the next on the ATP Tour, and having to be ready to play anywhere, anytime, against anybody. I like Tsitsipas to roll over Andreozzi as he gets ready for the French Open.

John Millman over Joao Domingues
Joao Domingues, ranked No. 214, had the win of his year, perhaps the win of his life, when he topped 6th seeded Aussie Alex de Minaur 6-2 in the third on Monday to move into the second round here in Portugal. It was cold and breezy, but the hometown fans found a lot to cheer about dressed in their cold-weather clothes, as Domingues displayed a crisp clay court game, and a steely resolve saved to showcase to his compatriots. As good a win as this looks on paper, it’s not going to be enough to take out Millman, another Aussie who competes like there’s no tomorrow. Millman is not known as a terrific clay court player, feeling more comfortable on any fast surface that puts a premium on an aggressive, attacking style, indoor or out, but he is a vicious competitor, and I think Domingues has experienced the elation of his one great win, not to be duplicated against this 29-year-old Aussie. These guys have never played each other, but I like Millman to take his No. 50 ranking and his ability to problem-solve, and simply out-compete Domingues, no matter how many fans turn out to root on their favorite son.

Gael Monfils over Reilly Opelka
Last we saw Gael Monfils he was playing some simply fabulous tennis in the desert of California, set to match up with eventual champion Dominic Thiem at the BNP Paribas Open, a Masters 1000 event. At that tournament, German Philipp Kohlschreiber had little trouble knocking out Novak Djokovic 4 and 4 in the Third Round after beating up on Nick Kyrgios by the same score in the second round. Against Monfils in the Round of 16, however, Kohlschreiber found it difficult to catch his breath as the wonderfully athletic Frenchman raced to a 6-0, 6-2 victory to set up a much-anticipated match with Thiem, last year’s French Open finalist, in the quarters. Unfortunately, Monfils, absolutely on fire, and in the best frame of mind seen in years, was forced to pull out of the tournament with an inflamed left Achilles tendon. It was really bad timing, as Monfils was on a roll and showing the public the best he had to offer. In his first outing since, I expect him to be 100% healthy and ready to compete. If he is, he should have no trouble with American 7-footer Reilly Opelka. Opelka serves howitzers, and it’s like they’re being shot from a small tree or something, but he lacks creativity as well as some basic shot production and should provide little competition for the Frenchman except on his serve. If Monfils is not 100% and it shows, this will provide a tough test for Mr. Excitement. We should know within a couple of games.

Jeremy Chardy over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina
I must admit that I don’t know much about 19-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. This will only be his second main draw appearance in a Tour event, so there isn’t much information available, but everyone’s gotta make their debuts somewhere sometime. He’s gotta be pretty good, recording a 7-6, 6-4 straight set win over American Taylor Fritz, after having qualified for the main draw by taking out American Bjorn Fratangelo and then tough Brit Dan Evans, the second seed in the qualies, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4. And remember, it was just nine weeks ago that Evans, the Brit coming back from a cocaine suspension, beat Andreas Seppi, Frances Tiafoe, and John Isner, among others, to reach the finals of the Delray Beach Open., and showed that he’s all the way back. But my guess is that Fokina’s just not polished enough to overcome French veteran Jeremy Chardy, ranked No. 42 in the world. Chardy is 32-years-old, has over 500 Tour matches under his belt, and has been playing on the Tour for 14 years, long enough to have had plenty of experience against young guys just breaking in. I’m betting that Chardy wins this one, but that we’ll hear from Fokina in the near future, as wins over Evans and Fritz don’t just happen. They’re earned.