The ATP Tour is on the fast track to Roland Garros and the next stop is in the Lone Star State for the US Men’s Clay Court Championships in Houston. Jeremy Chardy, Cameron Norrie, Riley Opelka and Steve Johnson have received a bye to the second round, and there will be a field of promising stars hoping to join them that we’ll take a shot at guessing who they are. Many of them haven’t had a stellar start to 2019 and if they want to turn their year around, it’s going to happen on a different surface from one they’ve usually played on.
Ryan Harrison vs Ivo Karlovic
If Nick Kyrgios has been the posterchild for firebrandism, Ryan Harrison could be a close second. Unlike Kyrgios, success has been a bit more elusive for the American from Austin, Texas. He advanced to the Round of 32 in the Mexican Open when he was taken out by Stan Wawrinka in straight sets. Back in his home state, he will have his fans come out in force to see him face Ivo Karlovic, the Croatian who is looking for his first singles win since March 11th, when he beat Prajnesh Gunneswaran in the Round of 32 of Indian Wells. It will be a showdown of two men with blazing fast serves, who need a win for more than just their confidence. Harrison may have home advantage but we have doubts that he can climb back into the top 100 on Monday.
Prediction: Karlovic in 3
Marcel Granollers vs Taylor Fritz
Head To Head: First Meeting
Granollers has had four titles in singles play, but only has one win so far this year. That was against Ivo Karlovic in Montpellier, France. The Spaniard, Granollers, is bound to face Taylor Fritz, who is currently ranked 58th in the world. Fritz has had a winless month of March but won the ATP Challenger tournament in Newport Beach in January. He’s also won the hearts of many fans in Miami after being spotted there, signing autographs in the middle of a swarming crowd after one of his matches.
— Timothy Sumrall (@Sumralltimothy) March 24, 2019
Both Fritz and Granollers have a lot to play for to bolster their singles portfolio, and Fritz is the slight favorite. A win for Granollers will be very much talked about, to say the least.
Prediction Fritz in 3
Bernard Tomic vs Denis Kudla
Head-to-head: First Meeting
The last matchup on center court will be between two right-handed players, born within two months of each other, who could box in the same weight class, and both started playing on tour months apart in the late 2000s. The Australian, Bernard Tomic, has the chance to redeem himself after losing to Novak Djokovic in the second round of the Miami Open last month. Kudla made the Round of 16 in the Brisbane International on New Year’s Day, losing to Kei Nishikori in straight sets, and Kudla appeared in the second round of the Dubai Championships where he fell in straight sets to Ricardas Berankis. He’s yet another player who has had a string of first round losses at Indian Wells and the Miami Open and hoping for an inspired turnaround.
Prediction: Tomic in 3
Christian Garin vs Pablo Cuevas
The first meeting between these two dirtballers. The veteran Cuevas has the better record overall but Garin has reached an ATP clay final this year (his first ever). This should be a nip and tuck battle, but Cuevas experience gives him the advantage, and he has a shot at lifting the title. Garin has had tremendous success at the challenger level, and at 22 his best years are still ahead, at the junior level he won the French Open singles. Cuevas has won six ATP titles on the surface, and at 33, he was formerly a top 20 player that is trying to return to the top 50 once again.
Prediction: Cuevas in 3