Canada’s Milos Raonic, shown last month in Stuttgart, is playing in the second round of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.  (Silas Stein/dpa via AP)
Canada’s Milos Raonic, shown last month in Stuttgart, is playing in the second round of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. (Silas Stein/dpa via AP)|Associated Press

Citi Open Tennis Wednesday: Abrams picks matches with Isner, Opelka, Tsitsipas, Anderson, FAA, Raonic, Kyrgios, Struff, Paire and more

Matches start at 1 pm EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Citi Open

Washington, D.C.

Wednesday 7/31/19

John Isner over Hubert Hurkacz

Although Reilly Opelka has John Isner’s number, very few others do. Hubert Hurkacz is coming off an expected win over the aging Donald Young, but Isner, aside from his first round loss to Opelka last week in Atlanta, just won the Hall of Fame Open in Newport. Isner seems to have recovered from the broken foot he suffered in the finals of the Miami Open against Roger Federer and should be able to serve Hurkacz off the court, as he often does, although Hurkacz will put up a fight. In another year or so, the tables between these two could very well be turned.

Stefanos Tsitsipas over Tommy Paul

Tommy Paul had a nice, decisive win over Dennis Kudla in Round One. If Paul plays like he did in that first set, where he was seeing the ball like a watermelon (his words) he will be competitive with Tsitsipas. But the Greek God won’t let Paul play his game, and that’s what he got away with against Kudla. Tsitsipas will dictate play. His game is more versatile, more varied, and he carries it out a bit faster than Paul is used to. Paul is coming around, but won’t be able to take out Tsitsipas.

Kevin Anderson over Adrian Mannarino

After winning the Libema Open where he beat de Bakker, Verdasco, Goffin, Coric and then Jordan Thompson in the finals, Mannarino bombed out to Lorenzo Sonego in Turkey, Marin Cilic in the first round of Wimbledon, and Tennys Sandgren in his first match in Newport. So just when I thought Mannarino was having a rebirth of sorts, he suffered a couple of bad weeks in a row, and that makes me very skeptical of him being able to upset the hard serving South African, Kevin Anderson. Anderson also suffered an injury in Miami, but came back looking pretty good, winning a round at the Fever-Tree in London, and two more at Wimbledon. Anderson should be too much for the Frenchman to handle. Besides, he's 5-1 against Mannarino, all-time.

Reilly Opelka over Felix Auger-Aliassime

FA2 and Reilly Opelka have never played, but those who play Opelka for the first time generally have an awfully difficult time returning his serve. And why not? The serve comes down from the heavens, is hit with colossal speed, and is a genuine weapon on the ATP Tour. Once the point gets started the balance of power will shift decidedly to the Canadian, as FA2’s game is a real thing to behold. He does everything very well, and once he gets used to Opelka’s delivery he’ll pick his game up. The real question is how long will that take? It could take the whole match.

Milos Raonic over Tim Smyczek

Smyczek had a nice first round win over Aussie Matt Ebden in straight sets. This match with Canadian Milos Raonic, however, has an entirely different dynamic. Like Anderson, Raonic relies primarily on his serve, but when he’s moving well he tends to a very effective volleyer, too. He should be all over Smyczek, and I think this one will be over in two sets.

Nick Kyrgios over Gilles Simon

Last night Nick Kyrgios seemed eager to play, but more eager to entertain. He did both. He hit shots between his legs. He HALF-VOLLEYED return of serves! He served at between 135-140 mph consistently. And he won the points he had to win against the pretty solid American qualifier Thai-Son Kwiatkowski. As always, this match against Frenchman Gilles Simon will be all about Kyrgios. Kyrgios can do everything better than the Frenchman, but it will come down to whether Nick wants to play or not. If he does, he’ll win. If he gets distracted, we might see another chair come flying on to the court.

Jan-Lennard Struff over Jordan Thompson

Struff has had a nice Spring/Summer with his only severe stumble coming when he threw in a boner against Thiago Montiero in Munich back in late April. That was most unfortunate, coming as it did in his home country and disappointed his fans. Thompson has lost his first round match in the last three tournaments he’s played, and a match against Struff is not one that should get him back in the winning column. They are both aggressive, so this match should have some fun action, but ultimately the match will turn in Struff’s favor.

Benoit Paire over Marc Polmans

Paire, the 6’5” Frenchman, is an enigma to me. He has style, playing with that beard and a shirt in which he always keeps the collar up. He can serve, but it looks like he’s got something stuck up his….hhhmmmm, well, you know, because he keeps his back so straight that it looks like it hurts him. And he has game, even if he is maddeningly inconsistent from one week to the next. Still, he’s got more than enough to take out Marc Polmans, a 22-year-old South African who now lives in Australia. Polmans, a stalwart on the Challenger Tour, beat Malek Jaziri badly in the first round and is playing good hard court tennis, but I don’t think he has enough experience to overcome the enigmatic Frenchman.

Alex de Minaur over Peter Gojowczyk

The Demon is coming off a wonderful week in Atlanta where he walked away with his second title of the year. After a great start to the year, de Minaur had a horrible spring, but is over that, and the nagging injury that caused it. He’s bringing in too much game to lose to Peter Golowczyk, a German journeyman who hasn’t won much this year. He had a terrific first round win over Andrey Rublev, but he’ll have to go to Cincinnati satisfied with that.

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