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Dusan Lajovic plays today in the Plava Laguna Croatia Open.
Dusan Lajovic plays today in the Plava Laguna Croatia Open.|atptour.com
Tennis

Tennis Thursday: Abrams picks 3 ATP Croatia matches – Bedene vs. Sinner, Coric vs. Caruso and Lajovic vs. Rublev.

Matches start at 11:30 am EDT

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Plava Laguna Croatia Open

Umag, Croatia

Thursday, July, 18, 2019

Aljaz Bedene over Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner is still only 17-years old, and he’s learning from every match he plays. He beat 31-year-old Portuguese veteran Pedro Sousa in the first round here in three, and if I were a 31-year-old pro and I lost to a 17-year-old rookie, that would be enough reason for me to retire. But Sinner is the kid, and his learning curve is steep. Let’s look at his experience in the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon tournament in Lyon, France in May. In the qualies, after beating Frenchman Antoine Hoang in the first round, he came up against another Frenchman, Tristan Lamasine, whom he schooled, 6-4, 6-3 to qualify for the main draw. Sinner drew Martin Klizan in the first round of the main draw, but Klizan withdrew due to “stomach problems” and guess which “lucky loser” replaced Klizan in the draw? Lamasine. This time, when ATP points and 8,815 Euros were on the line, Sinner dropped the match to Lamasine 6-0, 7-5. I’m not sure what the 17-year-old learned from that, but I’m sure he’ll be telling that story fifteen years from now. Here in Umag, Sinner will get a lesson in efficient clay court tennis from 87th ranked Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, who now lives in London. Bedene isn’t a worldbeater, but he’s experienced, he’s a good clay courter, and he won’t let a 17-year-old get in his way of a 15,335 Euro paycheck, with a chance to make 26,990 Euros if he wins the next match.

Borna Coric over Salvatore Caruso

Coric, a 22-year-old Croatian, is one of the very best of the crop of NextGen players coming up the ranking ladder. At #14, he is fast becoming a global name, and most of the other players already fear him. He didn’t play Wimbledon, so I’m not quite sure if he’s fully healthy, but as I’ve said before, there isn’t a player alive who is 100% healthy. They play so much that there’s always something bothering them, whether it’s a shoulder, wrist, ankle, knee, hip, or even plantar fasciitis, these guys play hurt. But if Coric is entered here, and is the second seed, I’m going to assume that he’s well enough to play. He should have no trouble with Italian qualifier Salvatore Caruso, a 26-year-old currently ranked #125. Caruso came through with an impressive 7-5, 6-0 victory over young Frenchman Corentin Moutet in round one, but that won’t be enough to convince me that he can beat someone in the Top 15.

Dusan Lajovic over Andrey Rublev

Lajovic is nothing if not a great dirtballer, and the switch last week from Wimbledon’s grass to the clay here in Croatia should spell some wins, some ATP ranking points, and some money for the 29-year-old Serbian. Rublev is improving all the time, and I’d probably give the nod to the 21-year-old Russian if these guys were playing on grass. But the clay here will favor Lajovic, and I’d be surprised if this match were all that close.

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