Alexander “Sascha” Zverev of Germany returns a ball to Nicolas Jarry of Chile during their final match, at the ATP 250 Geneva Open tournament in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, May 25, 2019. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)
Alexander “Sascha” Zverev of Germany returns a ball to Nicolas Jarry of Chile during their final match, at the ATP 250 Geneva Open tournament in Geneva, Switzerland, Saturday, May 25, 2019. (Salvatore Di Nolfi/Keystone via AP)|Associated Press

Tennis Tuesday: Abrams picks Hamburg Open 1st Round – Basilashvili vs. Dellien, Thiem vs. Cuevas, Jarry vs. Zverev, Fognini vs. Lenz, more

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Hamburg European Open

Hamburg, Germany

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Men’s First Round

Nikoloz Basilashvili over Hugo Dellien

Last week when I picked Juan Ignacio Londero to beat Hugo Dellien in Bastad (and was right), I got an email from a reader who wrote: “Dellien was superior to Londero in juniors (Dellien was #2 worldwide), and anyway, all the game (sic) were close matches. Dellien has only one year with a real ATP coach, but he has real potential to become a top 10, with the adequate resources that he is finally getting.” I must admit that I like Dellien, and I think he has potential, but for anyone who really believes that this guy is a Top Ten player, I’ve got some swampy real estate to sell you cheap. He’s 9-11 for the year, and in most of his Tour tournaments he’s been a first round loser. He seems to shine on the Challenger circuit, but those players are far removed from those who win in London, Paris, and New York City. With that said, Nikoloz Basilashvili is a real enigma himself. How a guy who sports a 15-16 record for the year, and who also loses in the first round as often as he wins a match, is ranked #16 in the world is far beyond me. Additionally, this year alone, he’s 1-3 against 38th ranked Marton Fucsovics and has losses to players ranked 52, 78, 57, 61, and 180. Except for the Dubai tournament, where he beat both Khachanov (#12) and RBA (#18), his best win for the year was over 33rd ranked Laslo Djere. I guess what I’m saying is that if Dellien really has Top Ten potential, let’s see him take out Basilashvili, who is clearly overranked.

Dominic Thiem over Pablo Cuevas

Dominic Thiem is ranked #4 in the world, and is absolutely dominant on clay, which is what they’re playing on in Hamburg. He has taken care of Cuevas in four out of the five matches they’ve played (his only loss came in 2015), with another match in the 2018 Indian Wells that they didn’t finish. Thiem is part of the elite on the Tour, and he plays as such. He’ll move on.

Nicolas Jarry over Sascha Zverev

These guys have played twice, both times on clay within the past couple of months, and each of their matches finished in third set tiebreakers. Zverev won in Geneva and Jarry won in Barcelona. The potential that Zverev showed by winning the ATP Championships last November with a win over Djokovic in the finals remains just that: potential. He has been inconsistent this year, and has losses that dominant players just don’t have. On the other hand, Chile’s Jarry just won his first ATP tournament by taking the Swedish Open two days ago. The list of his victims was not that impressive, but he won five matches in a row in straight sets, and anytime a pro does that, it’s an accomplishment. I like Jarry simply because he’s on a roll and has the confidence to take out the world’s fifth ranked player.

Fabio Fognini over Julian Lenz

Fognini, who is one of the biggest enigmas on the Tour, had seemed to have the erased that label after he won Monte Carlo, which included a win on clay in the semis over Nadal. He seemed to be better able to keep his head in games after that and won match after match. And then something happened, and Fognini returned to Crazyville. He retired while losing last week to Travaglia in Umag, he lost to Tennys Sandgren in three straight sets at Wimbledon, he imploded in Rome and dropped a straight set decision in the third round to Tsitsipas, and lost in the third round in Madrid to Thiem, another match where he was unable to win even a set. For a Top Ten player, these indiscretions are inexcusable. For Fognini, it’s just a return to “more of the same”. He should beat Julian Lenz here, but is that really an accomplishment? Lenz is ranked #374, and plays on the Challenger Tour.

Richard Gasquet over Sumit Nagal

France’s stylish Richard Gasquet is now 33-years-old, and is on the downside of his career. He no longer shows the fire with which he used to compete, although his strokes are still there. But without fire, wins are harder to come by, and his 8-7 2019 record is pedestrian, at best. He’s now ranked #65, and it doesn’t appear that he can, or wants to, work hard enough to get back to the highest levels of the Tour. It’s been 12 long years since Gasquet was ranked 7th in the world, and I think it’s safe to say that he’s seen his highest heights. He should beat Indian rookie Sumit Nagal, who will be playing his first Tour level match here on the clay. Gasquet has won over $17.5 Million in his career. Nagal has pocketed just $139,000.

Juan Ignacio Londero over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina

Fokina is an up-and-coming Spanish 20-year-old lucky loser, while Londero is an experienced, battle-tested veteran pro at 25. Londero just keeps improving and is coming off of a week in which he reached the finals of the Swedish Open, and a Round of 16 appearance in the French Open, before that. Although Londero is not a world-beater, he’s better than Fokina, at least at this point in their development, and I’d expect the Argentine to have his way with the Spaniard.

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