It’s been an incredible start to the ATP 500 event in Washington, D.C. and the action continues on Tuesday. Players will be working hard to gain form on their way to the US Open. How will Tuesday’s matches play out? Read on for my picks. We also have predictions for matches featuring Nick Kyrgios and Frances Tiafoe.
ATP Washington Day 2 Predictions
Denis Kudla vs Feliciano Lopez
Head to Head: 1-0 Lopez
Denis Kudla will be looking to pick up form, as he has lost three of his past four matches. In his first-round defeat in Atlanta to Chris O’Connell, he only won 12% of his first-serve return points and broke serve only once. Feliciano Lopez made the quarterfinals of the hard-court Segovia Challenger last week, but lost in the quarterfinals to Hugo Grenier. Lopez only generated one break point in the match, while facing 11 on his own serve.
Lopez leads the head to head 1-0, but their only matchup was in 2015, so it’s not relevant to this match. The 39 year-old Lopez is very serve-dependent nowadays and struggles as rallies are extended. On the other hand, Kudla thrives drawing out points and waiting for his opportunity to strike. Despite struggling on return against O’Connell, I expect Kudla to improve against Lopez, as he’s had more time to adjust to the hard courts. The key for Kudla is to get Lopez’s huge lefty serves back and direct as many balls as possible to the Spaniard’s one-handed backhand. Expect Kudla to do this well-enough to win.
Prediction: Kudla in 3
Steve Johnson vs Ramkumar Ramanathan
Head to Head: 1-0 Johnson
Steve Johnson lost in his second match in Atlanta, falling to Taylor Fritz in three sets. Johnson won only 10% of his first-serve return points and didn’t break, producing only one break point in three sets of tennis. Ramkumar Ramanathan did well to qualify for Washington, beating Chris Eubanks and Sebastian Ofner in the process. Ramanathan, who plays a tricky serve-and-volley style, won over 75% of his service points in both of his qualifying matches.
Johnson leads the head to head 1-0, although that matchup was a few years ago on grass, so it’s irrelevant for this match. This will be a serve-centric match, with both players trying to use their serves to win quick points and play serve-plus-one tennis. Ramanathan is very good at the net, but sometimes he forces himself in when the situation doesn’t call for it, which can leave him exposed for passing shots. Ramanathan’s groundstrokes, while good enough against Challenger competition, are typically not at the level for ATP-Tour play. Expect Johnson to draw out rallies, make Ramanathan uncomfortable, and expose Ramanathan when he charges into the net when the moment isn’t right. Johnson moves on.
Prediction: Johnson in 2
Jordan Thompson vs Elias Ymer
Head to Head: 1-0 Thompson
Jordan Thompson made the quarterfinals of Atlanta last week, but lost to Brandon Nakashima. Thompson only won 44% of his second-serve points in this match and, given his consistent style of play, was surprisingly erratic from the baseline. Elias Ymer did well to qualify for Washington, beating Bjorn Fratangelo and JJ Wolf without dropping a set. Ymer held both Fratangelo and Wolf to 45% second serves won and won at least 70% of his first-serve points.
Thompson leads the head to head 1-0, but that match occurred in 2017 and is irrelevant here. This will be a baseline-centric match, with both players not being afraid to play long rallies and grind opponents down with consistent baseline play. Ymer was very impressive in qualifying and beat two very good players, but Thompson’s experience, court-craft, and ability to hang in there and counterpunch at a high level make him a different animal to what Ymer saw in qualifying. While Thompson wasn’t as consistent as he needed to be against Nakashima, expect him to squeak past Ymer here.
Prediction: Thompson in 3
Marcos Giron vs Cameron Norrie
Head to Head: never played
Marcos Giron did well to win a grueling three-set match against Illya Marchenko in a third-set tiebreak. Giron held Marchenko to 56% first serves won and broke Marchenko’s serve five times. Cameron Norrie might have lost in his second match in Atlanta, but the week before, he won his first ATP Tour title in Los Cabos. Norrie’s consistency, angles, depth, and precision make him an extraordinarily difficult player to face in his current form.
These two have never played before. Giron will surely be at least a little fatigued from his match against Marchenko, which was around three hours long. Norrie is not the type of player that Giron will want to play if he’s a little tired, as the Brit does an excellent job of wearing opponents down from the baseline. Norrie is also better able to use controlled aggression on his groundstrokes. Expect Norrie to move on in Washington.
Prediction: Norrie in 2
Main Photo from Getty.