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Australia’s Alex de Minaur was happy in Australia. He should be equally happy today in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Australia’s Alex de Minaur was happy in Australia. He should be equally happy today in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)| (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)

Atlanta Open tennis Thursday: Abrams picks Ebden vs. Tomic, de Minaur vs. Klahn, Fritz vs. King, Kecmanovic vs. Humbert

Matches start at 2 pm EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

BB&T Atlanta Open

Atlanta, GA

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Matthew Ebden over Bernie Tomic

Let’s face it, losing to Bernie Tomic was the worst loss of Frances Tiafoe’s year. Tiafoe started out up 4-0 and then just lost it. He fell prey to Tomic’s seeming lackadaisical style of play. He fell prey to Tomic’s soft, almost “girly” shots. He fell prey to Tomic’s propensity to drop shot from anywhere at any time. He fell prey to Tomic’s seemingly “no-care” attitude. And finally, he fell prey to Tomic. Britain’s Matt Ebden won’t do that. He’ll come out charging, being aggressive, dominating play, and he’ll show those fans in Atlanta that Tomic is a fake. I hope Tiafoe gets over that loss, because he’s a much better player than he showed his American fans in the South.

Alex de Minaur over Brad Klahn

Alex de Minaur is a little bit of an enigma, or he’s just a normal 20-year-old trying to maintain a level of perfection that can’t be maintained. He started out the year like a house on fire, and his ranking zoomed to No. 24 in March. He’s settled at No. 34, which correctly recognizes his Spring swoon. But maybe he’s back! We’ll see. He should have no trouble with American 28-year-old Brad Klahn, ranked No. 94. Klahn, fighting for a spot as a direct-entry into the main draw at the U.S. Open, will be throwing everything he’s got at the Aussie, but ultimately, I think de Minaur is too strong, too versatile, and too good for the former 2010 NCAA Champion from Stanford.

Taylor Fritz over Kevin King

Kevin King’s presence in the second round against Taylor Fritz is more a function of Bulgarian shotmaker Grigor Dimitrov being wildly erratic in their first round encounter than King being a brilliant tennis player. King served well in that first round match, and did what he had to do, which was to keep the ball in play, while Dimitrov made error after error and threw the match away. Dimitrov dictated points, but ultimately, after six or seven shots, he’d miss long or wide, and eventually these errors added up to games, sets, and the match. King will not get the same welcome from Taylor Fritz. Fritz is match tough, is playing a very high level of tennis, and will take care of King to the point where the former Georgia Tech player will wonder how he ever won a round here.

Miomir Kecmanovic over Ugo Humbert

Humbert, a tall, young, effective Frenchman, is just too darn erratic at this point in his career to take out Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic. Humbert triumphed over another Georgia Tech player, this time, Cole Gromley, who was not able to keep his head screwed on as tight as King did in his match. When things got tight, Humbert dominated and Cromley crumbled. Kecmanovic triumphed in two tiebreakers over American Jack Sock, coming back from a year of “hell-on-earth” singles play, and a torn muscle in his thumb that required surgery. When you win two tiebreakers to win a match it’s easy to feel a little lucky, but you also feel somewhat invincible, and that’s what Kecmanovic is going to feel like going into this match.

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