The US Men’s Clay Court Championships down in Houston, Texas have produced some great tennis all week. Only four players remain, two Americans in Reilly Opelka and John Isner, the 2019 champion Cristian Garin, and Australian Nick Kyrgios. The conditions have been slow, but that has just lengthened the rallies and fun for the fans. Two players will take a great step towards raising the trophy after Saturday, but who will advance? We at LWOT have our predictions for Cristian Garin vs John Isner and Reilly Opelka vs Nick Kyrgios.
ATP Houston Semifinal Predictions
Cristian Garin vs John Isner
Head-to-head: Garin 2-1 Isner
Garin and Isner are both former champions at this event and will meet for a spot in the 2022 finals. Garin has taken two of three of their previous meetings which have all come at Masters 1000 hard court events. The Chilean’s path to this semifinal has not been easy. All three of his wins went the distance as Garin has already spent seven hours and 17 minutes on court. He picked up one of the best wins of his career in the quarterfinals beating World #14 Taylor Fritz. With that said, Isner has also played some gruelling matches this week. After receiving a first-round bye, Isner edged out Steve Johnson 6-7 7-6 6-3 before taking down Frances Tiafoe in a three-set quarterfinal battle.
This matchup is that of two contrasting styles. Isner wields one of the best serves in tennis history and prefers fast, hard courts. Garin is considered a clay court specialist and plays really well during long points on the dirt. Describing these styles, you would think the advantage goes to Garin on these slow, clay courts. Not so fast, as the 36-year-old American has been serving out of his mind this week. Isner has racked up 56 aces in just two matches in Houston. This one may go three-sets, but the American has a distinct advantage in the expected tiebreakers we should see.
Prediction: Isner in 3
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Reilly Opelka vs Nick Kyrgios
Head-to-head: Opelka 1-0 Kyrgios
Fireworks will be had in what is a highly anticipated semifinal matchup between Opelka and Kyrgios. The one previous meeting between these two was last August in Toronto. The American bested the Australian in a 4-6 7-6 6-4 battle. Opelka, who was 0-4 in Houston before this week, paired a bye with two wins over players outside the top-150 to get to this semifinal. Kyrgios was a Wild Card entry to the tournament, picking up a three-set win over Mackenzie McDonald in the first round and following that with a straight-set victory over Tommy Paul. He received a walkover in the quarterfinals as Michael Mmoh pulled out due to a right adductor strain.
Though the courts in Houston have been very slow, but we should see a healthy amount of aces from both players. This will be a match where one break of serve will seem like a big mountain to climb. Both players will have to keep their emotions in check, something each has struggled with this season. This match will probably go three-sets, with the thinnest of margins separating the two. Favor the American, who I believe will be able to do just enough from the baseline to get it done.
Prediction: Opelka in 3
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