The ATP Atlanta 250 has a history of rewarding players who can serve their opponents off the court and win shortened points, in hot, humid, summertime conditions. That trend could continue on Thursday as Nick Kyrgios, and John Isner are among the players in action who pack an elite serve. Here is your preview of all the action.
Cameron Norrie vs Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios won the last meeting, while Norrie advanced via a retirement when they met for the first time ever in Atlanta. The seeded Norrie is playing the best tennis of his career, he won Los Cabos, and also has finals at London Queen’s, Lyon, and Estoril this season. He’s played and won more tour matches already this season than any previous year of his career, making great progress against both players ranked at or below his level and some of the ATP’s best, including wins over Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov this season.
Kyrgios is of course an enigma, he can beat the ATP’s best players but struggles for consistency and focus. He’s played sparingly since the start of the COVID pandemic last year, with a third round exit at Wimbledon and a win in the opening round over Kevin Anderson, a big server who has found past success in Atlanta, his most recent match outings. The win over Anderson is a quality result, and Kyrgios was the Atlanta champion in 2016. This is a great matchup, Norrie could be dealing with fatigue despite how well he’s playing, a night time match in Atlanta should setup Kyrgios to play something that is closer to the best parts of his game though, so I’ll go with the upset. Kyrgios in 3
John Isner vs Jack Sock
Over eight meetings the higher ranked and more accomplished American Isner has gained the upper hand in this matchup 5-3, though they haven’t met since 2016 and much has changed in that time period. Isner has fallen from the top 20, and Sock has fallen from the top 200 in the rankings after they both previously peaked in the top 10 for their careers. Isner loves playing at home in Atlanta and though and has his sights set on a first ATP final in two years. After reaching the semis in Los Cabos he needed three sets to eke past J.J. Wolf in the opening round. That Los Cabos run came after a first round exit at Wimbledon.
Sock made a surprising run to the quarterfinals in Newport, his best ATP result in nearly three years, but has otherwise been bouncing around the challenger tour, away from the bright lights of the ATP and Grand Slams, with mixed results, including a recent title at the Little Rock Challenger.
Sock could always find form and surprise, but the more likely result is Isner grinds out another win with strong service games and advances to the quarterfinals given his excellent record in Atlanta that includes two wins against Sock in straight sets. Isner in 2
Christopher O’Connell vs Jannik Sinner
By his high standards, Sinner has been struggling in recent weeks, the Miami final, a semi in Barcelona, and prior to that an ATP title in Australia were impressive results, but other than reaching the second week at Roland Garros things have been patchy for the Italian. He enters the Atlanta tournament trying to break a three match losing streak, with two of those losses coming against lower ranked players.
O’Connell ripped through qualifying, and then scored a win over Denis Kudla to reach this stage. He also qualified for Wimbledon and Dubai but has struggled to consistently to make it at the ATP level thus far in his career. O’Connell provides legitimate opposition, but Sinner is the better player, presuming he’s figured out the issues in his game and has found some form. Sinner in 2
Benoit Paire vs Emil Ruusuvuori
Ruusuvuori is trying to make a run similar to the one he did in Miami, where he won three matches and only lost in the round of 16. He won his first round match in straights over Mackenzie McDonald and is now a win away from his second ever ATP quarterfinal. The talent on faster surfaces is there for the Finnish player but finding consistency has been a struggle. The Gstaad and Hamburg quarterfinalist Paire also struggles for consistency, though that run of results on clay suggests his form is improving after a poor season overall. All three of his quarterfinals this year have come on clay and he needed three sets against Yasutaka Uchiyama. Paire is the favorite, but Ruusuvuori on a North American hard court can do damage. I’ll go with an upset. Ruusuvuori in 3