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Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is in Washington D.C., for the Citi Open. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)
Australia’s Nick Kyrgios is in Washington D.C., for the Citi Open. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)|Associated Press

Citi Open Thursday: Abrams picks Tsonga vs. Edmund, Tsitsipas vs. Thompson, Kyrgios vs. Nishioka, Raonic vs. Gojowczyk, Isner vs. Paire more

Matches start at 2 pm EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Citi Open

Washington, D.C.

Thursday 8/1/19

Men’s 3rd Round

Jo-Willie Tsonga over Kyle Edmund

With that wonderful win over Karen Khachanov, Tsonga showed his fans that he’s not done, that it’s not over, and that he can still press on and win. I, for one, am totally thrilled, as I find both his game and his personality to be magnetic. I especially like the dance he does after he wins, and I think we’re in for a bit more dancing. These two guys played a few months ago in Morocco, with the dashing Frenchman taking a straight set decision. Tsonga’s commanding game should be too much for the Brit to handle, especially that killer serve and dominating forehand.

Stefanos Tsitsipas over Jordan Thompson

Jordan Thompson worked overtime way into the late night to take a close decision over German Jan-Lennard Struff. All he earned with that nice win was a match against Stefanos Tsitsipas, the top seed here. Tsitsipas has been so omnipresent this year that people forget that he’s only 20-years-old. He does a lot really well, but he has so much to improve on that it’s scary to think how good he can become. He serves well, but it can get harder. He moves well, but he can get faster. He volleys well, but he can learn to come in more. What I’m saying is that he should have no trouble beating the one-dimensional game of Jordan Thompson, but soon, Tsitsipas may become a winning machine.

Nick Kyrgios over Yoshihito Nishioka

Like Jordan Thompson, Yoshihito Nishioka worked overtime to take out the very tough David Goffin. Now he gets to watch the Nick Kyrgios Show from a front row seat. Kyrgios does everything physical better than Nishioka, except perhaps move, which is close. But what Nishioka has that Kyrgios never will is the desire to win and the will to fight. It appears that Nishioka enjoys the competition, while Kyrgios just tries to hit through it. As ever, the result of this match depends on Kyrgios entirely. If he wants to win, he will. If he chooses to entertain, winning takes a backseat to all his shenanigans.

Milos Raonic over Peter Gojowczyk

Lucky loser Peter Gojowczyk has gone about as far as he can go. He’s beaten both Andrey Rublev and Alex de Minaur in succession, two wins that I would never have predicted. But Canadian Milos Raonic plays a different game than both Rublev and de Minaur, relying as he does on his gigantic serve. He also has an effective volley, a good forehand, and a very serviceable slice backhand, especially when he uses it to rally and as an approach shot. I think Raonic makes Gojo pay for his two good wins with a shellacking here in the third round.

John Isner over Benoit Paire

Amazingly, John Isner, at 34, and Benoit Paire, at 30, have only played once, and that was way back in 2010. I don’t know how that happened, but they are about the same age, certainly in the same generation of international tennis players, and they are ranked pretty close to each other, with Isner at #15 currently, and Paire at #30, so drawing each other again was bound to happen at some point. Paire has won two tournaments this year, after having a pretty horrible January, and is competing as well as I can remember. Isner, however, is one of those players that when you play him all bets are off. Whatever rhythm you might have had doesn’t matter, because his service games mainly consist of him serving bombs at you, and you trying to get them back. Isner plays for that one break, so often there are so few rallies that Isner’s opponents never get even warmed up, but spend the match serving and returning serve, and then playing tie-breakers at the end of twelve games. That’s what I expect here. Isner should win two tiebreakers. The only question in my mind is will it take him two or three sets to win those.

Miomir Kecmanovic over Norbert Gombos

Who the heck is Norbert Gombos? And who, when their last name is Gombos would name their son “Norbert”? I guess they wanted him to gain some “character” while he was in school. Well, whatever he’s got, whoever he is, and wherever he comes from (Slovakia), he’s got some game. Gombos is almost entirely a Challenger event player, although he played the qualies at both Wimbledon and Roland Garros, but failed to quality in both Grand Slams. Here, he got a lucky loser spot and took advantage of it by beating Adrian Mannarino. He should be very happy, as he will take Third Round loser money of $24,400 after he gets a lesson from 6’ teenager Miomir Kecmanovic. Kecmanovic is the seventh highest ranked player in the world under 21, and he’s going to be a real stud. He started the year as a Challenger and qualies player, but he’s graduated from that. This week he beat both Alexei Popyrin and Pierre-Hugues Herbert after winning two rounds last week in Atlanta, where he lost to eventual finalist Taylor Dent. Kecmanovic won’t win this tournament, but he’ll roll over Gombos.

Felix Auger-Aliassime over Marin Cilic

I’m going out on a limb here and picking the 18-year-old FA2 to top former U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic. I figure that if FA2 can return Reilly Opelka’s serve well enough to break him and beat him, he can beat Cilic, who isn’t quite the player he was five years ago when he was a Grand Slam champion. FA2 just keeps getting better, and he’s so impressive that you’ve got to give him enough credit to know that he has the ability to beat anybody any time. Here, I think this is his time.

Daniil Medvedev over Frances Tiafoe

After that incredibly embarrassing loss last week to Bernie Tomic, Frances Tiafoe has seemed to right the ship. He came out and tuned Alexander Bublick in straight sets, which I didn’t expect, but was pleased to see for Big Foe’s sake. He’s playing in front of his hometown crowd here in D.C., but they’re going to have to be satisfied with his one win, because Daniil Medvedev is too solid for Tiafoe right now. We’ll see how the American does next week in Cincinnati and then in Canada, because how he does in the U.S. Open at the end of the month may just depend on how much confidence he has.

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