Joao Sousa squares off today against David Goffin at the Estoril Open.
Joao Sousa squares off today against David Goffin at the Estoril Open.|

Tennis Thursday: At Estoril Open, the Round of 16 goes on – Abrams picks Cuevas v Baldi, Goffin v Sousa, Mayer v Jaziri, Tiafoe v Nishioka

Matches start at 8 am EDT

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Millenium Estoril Open
Estoril Portugal
Thursday, May 2, 2019
Round of 16 continues

Pablo Cuevas over Filippo Baldi
Fabio Fognini
’s recent win in Monte Carlo is proving to be more expensive than anyone could have imagined two weeks ago. He has now pulled out of two consecutive events after using a right leg injury to get him out of the Millenium Estoril Open in Estoril, Portugal. Fognini has been replaced by lucky loser Filippo Baldi, a 6-footer from Vigevano, Italy. Baldi, a 23-year-old Italian turned pro in 2012 and has had officially only one Tour match in the past seven years, since the ATP has changed how they calculate ranking points after the 2018 Tour season. This move officially erased all of Baldi’s Tour experience that occurred during that time. Cuevas, a lucky loser himself, knocked off Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-2 in the first round to set up this second round match between two guys who’ve already lost in this tournament. In a fascinating touch of irony, Caruso qualified by beating Cuevas in the second round of the qualies 6-4 in the third. So Caruso made the main draw by beating Cuevas, and in the main draw Cuevas beat Caruso. Get that??? Baldi, to his (dis)credit, went down in the qualies to Joao Domingues in straight sets. Isn’t it ridiculous that we’re talking about two guys who’ve already lost having to play again here in the main draw? Well that’s the joke the ATP Tour has become these days. Which loser will lose again? Cuevas is the same player who took out 11th ranked Marin Cilic last week in Budapest, so I’m picking that loser to win.

David Goffin over Joao Sousa
Thankfully neither Goffin nor Sousa has lost yet in Portugal. It makes picking this match easier as the Belgian has a 4-1-lifetime career advantage over Sousa, a Portugal favorite son who now lives in Barcelona, Spain. I see Goffin taking this match and moving his record over Sousa to 5-1.

Leonardo Mayer over Malek Jaziri
Last week in Barcelona Mayer extended Rafa Nadal to three sets when they squared off in the Second Round at which time Nadal beat the Argentinean 6-2 in the third. Mayer showed off glimpses of brilliance and took away from that match a whole different level of confidence, which should pay off in this match against Malek Jaziri. Jaziri won a round last week before losing to Canadian teenager FA2 6-3, 7-6. Here in Portugal, Jaziri topped Chile’s 6’6” Nicolas Jarry, whose tennis DNA extends back to his grandfather, Jamie Fillol, a Touring Pro back in the ‘70’s. I like the 62nd ranked Mayer to topple the 75th ranked Jaziri.

Frances Tiafoe over Yoshihito Nishioka
I really love that American Frances Tiafoe came to Europe to play some red clay tournaments in his preparation for the French Open. He is one of only a handful of Yanks who have committed enough to the clay court season as to enter some prelims leading up to the Grand Slam tournament in Paris, scheduled for the end of this month. Tiafoe, now ranked No. 31, is the 8th seed here, and took out Russian Mikhail Kukushkin in straight sets to move into the Second Round. Yoshihito Nishioka had an impressive 6-2, 6-4 first round win over American Mackie McDonald to advance to this match. Although Nishioka has the win in the only match these two have played, I think Tiafoe will turn the tables and beat Nishioka at his own game, since they play very similar styles. It’s just that the young American plays it better.

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