ATP Atlanta Open Day 1 Predictions Including Steve Johnson vs Alexei Popyrin

Alexei Popyrin 2020 Adelaide ATP
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The first U.S. tournament of the summer hard court swing is here–the ATP Atlanta Open! The temperatures will be hot in Atlanta, but don’t expect the quality of play to suffer! We have a mix of rising stars and more established players here in Georgia, let’s see how the week plays out! Read on for my best guesses for Day 1 in Atlanta!

ATP Atlanta Day 1 Predictions

Bjorn Fratangelo vs Andreas Seppi

Head to Head: never played

Bjorn Fratangelo did well to qualify for this tournament, beating Elias Ymer and Jason Jung to advance to the main draw. During his qualifying campaign, Fratangelo dominated on his first serve, winning over 75% of his first-serve points in both of the matches he played in qualifying. After starting out red-hot, Andreas Seppi lost to Alex Bolt last week in the hard-court event in Los Cabos. Seppi won 82% of his first-serve points in the first set against Bolt, then only won 55% of his first-serve points in the second and third sets combined. On return, Seppi won 72% of his return points in the first set. But, in the second and third sets combined, Seppi won 36% of his return points.

These two have never played before. Seppi has started to show his age and Fratangelo should be able to handle the Atlanta heat and humidity better. Fratangelo did not play a great match last week against Schnur in Cary, but I see that more as an outlier performance. Fratangelo hits his spots on serve, is physically in-shape, and hits with good depth from the baseline. I don’t see Seppi being able to play at the level of tennis needed to win for more than a set. Fratangelo moves on.
Prediction: Fratangelo in 3

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Lloyd Harris vs Jordan Thompson

Head to Head: 1-0 Harris

Lloyd Harris is playing his first hard-court match since Miami. Harris last played at Wimbledon where he made the second round before falling to Andrey Rublev. It could be a tough transition to the conditions in Atlanta, in addition to being back on hard courts for the first time (for a match). Jordan Thompson did well to make the quarterfinals in Los Cabos last week, but failed to convert three match points in a loss to Brandon Nakashima. Thompson struggled with his first serve percentage against both Sebastian Ofner and Brandon Nakashima, not hitting 55% first serves in in either of those matches.

Harris leads the head to head 1-0, having beaten Thompson in straight sets at the 2018 hard-court Stockton Challenger. However, that was one match years ago, so not too much can be taken from that. Harris has a big serve and really tries to play first-strike tennis, which will be important this week in the sweltering conditions. Thompson is consistent from the baseline and works points well, waiting patiently for his opening. It will be tough to play this way in these conditions, but if he can drag Harris into longer rallies, he could wear down the South African. But, Thompson really isn’t playing that well lately, he’s having too many random misses from the baseline and is struggling to produce power. Expect Harris to get the better of Thompson in this one.
Prediction: Harris in 3

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Peter Gojowczyk vs Sam Querrey

Head to Head: 1-0 Gojowczyk

Peter Gojowczyk did well to qualify for Atlanta, beating Donald Young and James Ward without losing a set. Gojowczyk won a combined 45/52 first-serve points (including winning 100% of his first-serve points against Young) and held both opponents to 45% or less second-serve points won. Sam Querrey lost in his first match last week to Brandon Nakashima. While Querrey won 85% of his first-serve points, he only won 38% of his second-serve points. However, Querrey loves playing in North America, given that 8 of his 10 ATP singles titles occurred in North America (with 6 occurring in the United States).

Gojowczyk leads the head to head 1-0, but that was a clay-court matchup from 2018, so it doesn’t provide much information for this match. Both players will be trying to play first-strike tennis and take control of the baseline. However, I think Querrey does this at a higher level than Gojowczyk and plays with more margin for error, so he’s less likely than Gojowczyk to completely lose his game. Querrey is also very comfortable playing American hard-court tournaments. Querrey moves on.
Prediction: Querrey in 3

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Steve Johnson vs Alexei Popyrin

Head to Head: never played

Steve Johnson qualified for Los Cabos last week, but lost in the first round of the main draw to Taylor Fritz in straight sets. Johnson won 76% of his first serves in that match, but only served at 54% first serves in and won 47% of his second-serve points. Alexei Popyrin is playing his first hard-court match since Miami. Given the extremely hot and humid weather and the lack of play on hard courts for quite some time, it could be a tough transition for Popyrin.

These two have never played before. Johnson got some match play in at Los Cabos, but he’s not playing his best tennis. He isn’t making a lot of first serves, given that including qualifying, he didn’t have a single match with at least 55% first serves in. In addition, Johnson’s backhand is a liability and he’s hot-and-cold from the baseline. Popyrin will have to make the big transition from Wimbledon to the Atlanta hard courts, but I’m going to assume that he’s been practicing a lot in these conditions. He has a big game with a huge serve and powerful groundstrokes and could make a run in Atlanta if things really come together for him. Expect Popyrin to edge out Johnson in this one.
Prediction: Popyrin in 3

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