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American Taylor Fritz plays in Atlanta today. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)
American Taylor Fritz plays in Atlanta today. (Gareth Fuller/PA via AP)|Associated Press
Tennis

Atlanta Open Friday quarters: Abrams picks Opelka vs. Evans, de Minaur vs. Tomic, Norrie vs. Popyrin, Fritz vs. Kecmanovic

Matches start at noon EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

BB&T Atlanta Open

Atlanta, GA

Friday, July 26, 2019

So, what have we learned about the tennis world from the tweets and publicity here in Atlanta this week? Well, so far, Bernie Tomic has credited his comeback from the dead on the enormous amount of weed he smokes. Maybe that’s why he looks like he’s sleepwalking most of the time on the court. We hear that Amanda Anisimova, who was born in New Jersey, wants to move to California. She may be only 17, but she’s smart. And Ivan Lendl, who had been coaching Sascha Zverev while also working on his golf game and his beer belly, evidently couldn’t do all three things at once. So he resigned from his coaching duties. Trump’s war on immigrants has expanded to those with sporting visas. Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova, a former U.S Open champion, had to pull out of the CitiOpen because she couldn’t get inside our borders. And Nole, who some are now calling the GOAT after his Wimbledon win, just pulled out of Montreal “to give my body longer rest and recovery time before coming back again to play.” I hear that next year his schedule will be something in the Fall semester after the Junior Prom, and something in the Spring Semester, after the Senior Prom. Let’s hope he gets voted Prom King!

And now for the play:

Men’s Singles Quarterfinals

Reilly Opelka over Dan Evans

Watching John Isner go down in three straight tiebreakers to Reilly Opelka, for the third time this year, I couldn’t help but smile. There really wasn’t much Isner could do with Opelka’s serve, coming down from Mt. Olympus, as it was, and Isner would shake his head, walk dejectedly from the deuce court to the ad court, looking to return serve, and just watch serves go by him with no defense. My smile was caused by the total look of dejection and helplessness that Isner showed—the exact same expression that Isner’s opponents have shown for years now, trying to get into a match with the former Georgia star. I must admit that it really takes some of the fun, most of the strategy, and all of the excitement away from the game when you have two guys who are taller than 6’10” firing nuclear serves at each other. I hate to admit it, but I’d rather watch a women’s doubles match (!!!!) than watch that kind of men’s action. And that’s what Britain’s Dan Evans will have to contend with. Unplayable serve followed by unplayable serve. If they ever got into a rally, Evans would surely take charge, but it won’t make much of a difference, because those rallies will take place on Evans’ serve, after Opelka has held all of his. This match belongs to the giant American, and I think I’ll take that time writing about something rather than let the play put me to sleep.

Alex de Minaur over Bernie Tomic

Well, now we know why Bernie Tomic looks so lackadaisical on the tennis court: he’s stoned! Tomic’s confession comes at an interesting time, as it is, confirming that tennis’ drug testing program either doesn’t exist or doesn’t work. I don’t know what kind of tests they use, but the tests must not test specifically for a few certain items. It makes Serena’s complaining about her being tested so frequently all the more interesting, as it seems like some of the men seem to be squirting by…. and might, in fact, validate Serena’s rant about sexism on the Tour. At any rate, Tomic has won two consecutive matches for only the second time this year (he won two matches in a row a few weeks ago in Turkey). He will now play countryman Alex de Minaur and I don’t think Tomic has a chance in Hell to win this match. De Minaur is young, hungry, and back to the form he had in January, which means that Tomic will have plenty of time to light some doobies, as he should be off the court quickly. And, when his career is over, Bernie can get a job as a bud tender in a dispensary, as a requirement of the job is to sample all of the products.

Cam Norrie over Alexei Popyrin

This is an attractive match, coming as it will between two matches that should be real dogs. The Opelka/Evans match should be a boring affair, and the Tomic/de Minaur match shouldn’t be very competitive. So Atlanta’s fans should enjoy this one, as it will give them a chance to watch some good tennis that should be very competitive. I give Norrie the slight nod because he’s a little more experienced, he’s played more and won more this year, and Norrie won’t have to deal with the annoying Lleyton Hewitt yelling, “COME ON” in his ear. One thing’s for sure: when Popyrin gets a new coach he’ll start playing more and winning more because he won’t have to wear ear plugs during his matches.

Taylor Fritz over Miomir Kecmanovic

Taylor Fritz is on a mission. It took him all of 70 minutes to dispatch Georgia Tech grad Kevin King, and the match would have been much shorter if, ahead a set and 3-0, he didn’t lose his focus and let King back in. Kecmanovic dismantled Ugo Humbert in his match last night and looks solid and focused, but this teen is going down to Fritz, who, at 21 years-old, is the oldest, most mature 21-year-old I’ve ever seen. He’s married, he has a son, he’s a professional plying his craft in an incredibly competitive international sport, and he will be the only American seed in the U.S. Open later next month. One other thing: he’s already won over $2.6 Million, so I’d call him successful.

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