2014 ATP Tashkent, Rennes @TiburonChallngr Previews & Picks

2014 Tashkent, Tiburon and Rennes Challenger Previews, Picks
Chris De Waard, Tennis East Coast

TiburonChallenger_Logo

We’re abandoning clay for the moment, with three Challenger events on hardcourt in Uzbekistan, California and France.

Tashkent Challenger

ATP Challenger Tour
Tashkent, Uzbekistan
6-11 October
Prize Money: $125,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Dusan Lajovic (69)
2: Sergiy Stakhovsky (72)
3: Lukas Lacko (83)
4: Adrian Mannarino (84)
5: Damir Dzumhur (106)
6: Aleksandr Nedovyesov (119)
7: Farrukh Dustov (129)
8: Alexander Kudryavtsev (130)

The last direct acceptance is Anton Zaitcev, ranked 343rd.

First round match-ups to watch

(7) Farrukh Dustov – Radu Albot

Dustov has reached three Challenger finals this year, but he is currently on a five match losing streak and can use a good result. Albot has been in good form, qualifying for the US Open and reaching a semi-final and a final in his last two Challenger events. Their previous match in Bergamo last year ended in a 6-4 6-7(5) 7-6(4) victory for Dustov, so this might well be another marathon match.

Top Half

Although he is unseeded, Borna Coric is one to watch here, playing his first event after winning the Izmir Challenger. He is the favorite to take out #8 seed Alexander Kudryavtsev in the second round, after which an interesting encounter with top seed Dusan Lajovic is likely to follow. In the bottom section, #3 seed Lukas Lacko is a clear favorite to advance after reaching the quarterfinal at the 250 event in Shenzhen two weeks ago.

Bottom Half

#2 seed Sergiy Stakhovsky has a comfortable draw, with the out of form Dustov as the seed in his quarter. The top section contains a lot of different dangerous players, however. #4 seed Adrian Mannarino has won the last three Challengers he played, while Damir Dzumhur and Evgeny Donskoy are also well capable of beating Stakhovsky.

Predictions

Semis:

Lacko > Lajovic
Mannarino > Stakhovsky

Final:

Mannarino > Lacko

Lacko beat Lajovic comfortably earlier this year in the qualification draw of Miami, which ended 6-3 6-2. Against Mannarino it is bound to become a tight match, as both their previous matches ended in three sets. Both times the victory went to Mannarino, however.

First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger

ATP Challenger Tour
Tiburon, CA, USA
6-12 October
Prize Money: $100,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Sam Querrey (47)
2: Tim Smyczek (99)
3: Bradley Klahn (118)
4: Peter Polansky (123)
5: Denis Kudla (125)
6: Thiemo de Bakker (143)
7: Frank Dancevic (144)
8: Luca Vanni (156)

The last direct acceptance is Elias Ymer, ranked 240th. Last week’s Sacramento finalist Stefan Kozlov got in on a special exempt, while Jared Donaldson and Bjorn Fratangelo received wild cards.

First round match-ups to watch

(2) Tim Smycek – Ryan Harrison

No matter how bad his form may be, you can’t help but keep watching Harrison. He lost to youngsters Kozlov and Donaldson in the first round of his previous two Challengers. Judging by their match in Atlanta this year, this might be more of a train wreck to watch instead of a quality match, considering it ended 6-0 6-2 in Smyczek’s favor.

(SE) Stefan Kozlov – Alex Bolt

After a breakthrough tournament last week, it will be interesting to see if Kozlov can deliver that kind of form two weeks in a row. Bolt seems to have trouble with that, considering he lost to world #495 Marcos Giron in the first round of Sacramento last week after reaching the semi-final of Napa the week before.

Top Half

After winning Sacramento and Napa, Querrey is back for more easy matches and is once again by far the highest ranked player in the field. Elias Ymer was up a set and a break against him at Napa and they might face off again in the second round here. Other than Ymer, I very much doubt anyone will trouble him.

Bottom Half

The draw is fairly unbalanced, with the big majority of dangerous players being in the bottom half. Although, in some cases, their danger lies more in their potential than the reality, perhaps. Thiemo de Bakker retired last week, while Frank Dancevic isn’t in good form and it’s hard to predict if Kozlov can keep up his good run. Other than them, we still have Bradley Klahn, John Millman, Chase Buchanan, Tim Smyczek and Jared Donaldson, making this a very exciting half and also one that is hard to predict.

Predictions

Semis:

Querrey > Vanni
Smyczek > Klahn

Final:

Querrey > Smyczek

Smyczek and Klahn have a very interesting head to head, tied at 3-3 with Smyczek prevailing in their last match at Napa last year. Querrey is obviously the big favorite again.

Open de Rennes

ATP Challenger Tour
Rennes, France
6-12 October
Prize Money: €85,000

Seeds (ATP ranking in parentheses)

1: Jan-Lennard Struff (53)
2: Thomaz Bellucci (68)
3: Paul-Henri Mathieu (81)
4: Dudi Sela (87)
5: Andreas Haider-Maurer (94)
6: Dustin Brown (96)
7: Andreas Beck (100)
8: Tobias Kamke (102)

The last direct acceptance is Gregoire Burquier, ranked 202nd. World #73 Robin Haase qualified after being a late sign-up. Tim Puetz, Karen Khachanov and Martin Fischer also qualified. Tristan Lamasine and Marc Gicquel received a wild card, completing this very strong field.

First round match-ups to watch

(2) Thomaz Bellucci – Marsel Ilhan

A re-match of last week’s showdown at Mons, which Ilhan won 7-6(7) 6-4. Ilhan played a very good tournament, which was evidenced by him snapping David Goffin’s streak of 37 consecutive won sets at Challenger level in the semi-final, even though it didn’t get him the win.

(4) Dudi Sela – Alexander Zverev

Sela had a very tough draw last week at Mons against Steve Darcis, the eventual finalist. This week’s draw isn’t too pleasant either, with up and coming 17 year old Zverev, who took out Dustin Brown last week before losing to Goffin in the quarterfinal.

Top Half

Top seed Jan-Lennard Struff should be able to get at least to the semi-final, although Robin Haase could pose trouble in the second round if he refinds his form. #3 seed Paul-Henri Mathieu can be marked the favorite in the other section, with a favorable draw of clay players to the quarterfinal. There he might meet Nicolas Mahut, who is always tricky. Although their last meeting at Bucharest earlier this year ended in a 6-3 6-1 victory for Mathieu, that was on clay, which highly favors him.

Bottom Half

There are a lot of dangerous unseeded players lurking in this half, with Matteo Viola, Steve Darcis, Alexander Zverev, Kenny De Schepper and Marsel Ilhan being very capable of making the final. Especially with erratic seeds as Dustin Brown and Thomaz Bellucci, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see an unseeded player get through. All in all, a very tough half to predict with no players clearly sticking out.

Predictions

Semis:

Struff > Mathieu
Haider-Maurer > Brown

Final:

Struff > Haider-Maurer

It’s @Gibbsyyyy over Oudin @USTAProCircuit Carson CA

NICOLE GIBBS DEFEATS MELANIE OUDIN TO CAPTURE USTA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT WOMEN’S $50,000 CLASSIC IN CARSON

Nicole Gibbs Carson

CARSON, July 20, 2014 – Nicole Gibbs moved another step closer to playing in her third consecutive US Open main draw, capturing the USTA Player Development Women’s $50,000 Classic with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Melanie Oudin on Sunday at the USTA Training Center – West at StubHub Center.

Gibbs, 21, is a two-time NCAA singles winner at Stanford and earned wild-card entry into the season’s final Grand Slam the past two years by way of those wins.

With one event remaining in the US Open Wild Card Challenge, Gibbs now leads in the standings with 88 points. She is followed by Julia Boserup (63 points), Oudin (48), Louisa Chirico (44) and Sanaz Marand (30).
The final of the three-event US Open Wild Card Challenge is the Lexington, Ky., $50,000 Challenger to be played this week.

It was a tight battle throughout in the final on Sunday with Gibbs holding a 4-2 lead in the second set, before the sole of her shoe came partially off. Admitting she started to “panic,” Gibbs fell down 4-all, 40-love with Oudin serving. Gibbs then played a solid point, was aided by an untimely Oudin double fault and ultimately broke back to serve for the match.

“Tennis is like that sometimes,” said Gibbs, who won this event last year when it was held in Yakima, Wash. Without a spare pair of tennis shoes, Gibbs contemplated wearing running shoes, but opted for a tape job instead, which seemed to do the trick.

Oudin’s first-round loss in US Open qualifying last year to Elena Baltacha ended a streak of five consecutive main draw appearances at the US Open, which of course included her quarterfinal run there in 2009.
“It’s one tournament,” said Oudin, who did not play in Sacramento last week but will play Lexington, of the US Open. “I’m not worrying about this wild card. It’s the last thing on my mind. If I play well I can qualify on my own. But if I do win this wild card that’s just an added bonus.”

Gibbs Oudin Carson

Gibbs, a nearby Marina Del Rey resident, said she loved playing so close to home. “Just the title of the tournament, ‘Carson $50,000,’ ” she said. “It’s so exciting to be at the place I train and have my community supporting me.”

USTA Player Development Women’s $50,000 Classic
A USTA Pro Circuit Event

Sunday, July 20
USTA Training Center – West at StubHub Center
Carson, Calif.
Purse: $50,000
Surface: Hard-Outdoor

Sunday, July 20 – RESULT
Singles – Final
(2) Nicole Gibbs (USA) def. (4) Melanie Oudin (USA), 6-4, 6-4

—S. Pratt, USTA

Azarenka (@Vika7) Joins @BryanBrothers @BryanBros at V-Grid Tennis Fest #VGRID

Former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka To Join Bryan Bros. at Popular V-Grid Tennis Fest This Saturday

Bob Bryan and Victoria Azarenka_French_Open_Trophy

Two-Time Australian Open Champ Will Reunite With Winning 2008 French Open Mixed Doubles Partner Bob Bryan at V-Grid Tennis Fest Benefitting Bryan Bros. Foundation

Camarillo, Calif., – Two-time Grand Slam singles champion and former world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka will reunite with winning 2008 French Open mixed doubles partner Bob Bryan this Saturday at the popular V-Grid Tennis Fest presented by Alexander Cadillac and Esurance and featuring Mike and Bob Bryan.

A limited number of tickets are still available for the 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. event being held once again at the picturesque Spanish Hills Country Club in the twins’ hometown of Camarillo. Log onto http://www.bbtennisfest.com for more information and to purchase tickets.

The all-time winningest doubles team in history and holders of 15 Grand Slam titles, the Bryan twins will once again entertain friends and fans alike in a day of tennis, music, food and wine tasting. Similar to year’s past, there will be a Pro-Am, exhibition matches and the day will culminate with a concert featuring the Bryan Bros. Band.

“Of course we are really happy and thankful that our longtime pal, Vika Azarenka, is coming to help out our Foundation and play the event,” Bob Bryan said. “We had a blast playing mixed together at the French and what a thrill to win that title together.”

The Tennis Fest is headed up once again by Spanish Hills Tennis Director Dave McKinney and will be emceed by the twins’ father, Wayne Bryan. All proceeds from the event will benefit the Bryan Bros. Foundation. Over the past few years, more than $530,000 has been raised to support deserving kids and programs, specifically the Ventura County Junior Tennis Association led by Terry Lynch, and the Santa Barbara Tennis Patrons and CathyAnn Simon.

“We so greatly appreciate the support of the Ventura and Santa Barbara tennis communities that all come together to help with this event,” Mike Bryan said. “It is truly a team effort by so many people, including those supportive friends and fans who buy tickets and auction items.”

In the featured match of the day, Bob Bryan and Azarenka will take on Mike Bryan and one of the U.S.’s top juniors, Las Vegas’ Kimberly Yee, who over the weekend received junior tennis’ highest honor by winning the Bill Talbert Sportsmanship award at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Tennis stars that will be playing in the Pro-Am, besides the Bryan Brothers include Hall of Famer and former world No. 1 Tracy Austin; two-time winner of the French Open Doubles, Hank Pfister; four-time Grand Slam winner, Olympic gold medalist and No. 1 doubles player in the world, Ken Flach; former Roland Garros doubles finalist, Jeff Tarango; and former UCLA All American and NCAA singles finalist, Tony Graham.

“A very special thanks to V-Grid and Mike Cheiky for their wonderful support once again,” Mike Bryan said. “And we all appreciate the kind help of our wonderful sponsors Alexander Cadillac and Esurance.”

Added Mike: “Our young juniors girls will love being able to see Vika play up close. It will be a great inspiration to them. Vika is such a wonderful role model for up and coming juniors. She is really nice and has a sense of fun. Like, Bob, I am so glad she will be playing and adding so much to the event.”

The day after the TennisFest, the Bryans will play three home matches of Mylan World Team Tennis action for their new team, the San Diego Aviators, July 20th, 22nd and 23rd at the Valley View Casino Center (formerly the San Diego Sports Arena).

—S. Pratt

Nakagawa, Bellis Capture 18s Singles Titles At USTA International Spring Championships

Nakagawa, Bellis Capture 18s Singles Titles At USTA International Spring Championships

Naoki Nakagawa (JPN)

Naoki Nakagawa (JPN)

CARSON, Calif., (April 6, 2014) – At 5-all in a third-set tiebreaker, No. 2-seeded Naoki Nakagawa knew he had to play the final two points like he had been the entire match: “patient yet aggressive.”

And that’s exactly what the Bradenton, Fla., resident from Fukuoka, Japan, did on Sunday as he went the distance to beat top-seeded Francis Tiafoe to capture the Boys’ 18s singles title, 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5), on the final day at the 10th annual USTA International Spring Championships, an ITF level Grade 1 event played at the StubHub Center.

“I was really tight but I knew I had to go for it,” said Nakagawa, who took a second serve from the forehand side for a cross-court winner to go up 6-5 in the breaker. He then hit a powerful serve down the “T” that Tiafoe could only manage to hit into the net.

Tiafoe said he played an “unbelievable” game at 5-all to break Nakagawa’s serve and then had a chance to serve out the match. But Nakagawa returned some tough Tiafoe first serves to break back sending the match into a tiebreaker, the first time it’s gone that far in the event’s 10-year history. In fact, in the first nine Boys’ 18s finals before Sunday, only twice had a match gone to three sets.

“It could have gone either way,” said Tiafoe, the ITF world-ranked No. 7 player from College Park, Md. “I hit a bad second serve and for him to go for that at 5-all was pretty clutch, and you got to give that to him. Then he hits a big serve at match point so there’s nothing you can do there.”

Nakagawa, 17, is in his fifth year training at IMG Bolettieri Academy in Bradenton, Fla. He calls current world ATP Tour Top 20 player Kei Nishikori a good friend. “Yeah, we train together and sometimes I go to his house and we play games,” said Nakagawa.

Tiafoe headed straight for the desert two hours east after his match where he will take tomorrow off before his first match in the ASICS Easter Bowl. He said he won’t dwell on the loss for long, and that there is no pressure on him this coming week. “It’s not like it’s going to matter to me to play the Slams this summer,” he said. “It obviously hurts because I wanted to win but it’s not going to carry over to this week.”

In the girls’ 18s final contested at the same time, No. 5-seeded and 14-year-old CiCi Bellis of Atherton, Calif., made short work of 15-year-old and No. 9 Raveena Kingsley of Fulton, Md., 6-3, 6-0. Kingsley had beaten Bellis in their only prior meeting at the 12s USTA Spring Nationals back in 2011.

Catherine Cartan Bellis (USA)

Catherine Cartan Bellis (USA)

Kingsley, who trains out of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., had a tough three-set semifinal on Saturday and said she felt mentally and physically tired before the final. “And it’s my first Grade 1 final, so maybe that helped her confidence, that she’s been here before,” said Kingsley, who was coached by Frank Salazar all week.

Bellis was cheered on by her hitting partner and one of her coaches Jelena Pandzic, a former junior prodigy from Split, Croatia, who reached as high as No. 135 in the WTA World Tour rankings.

“I will rest the rest of today and maybe have a light hit tomorrow,” said Bellis, who turns 15 on Tuesday. “I really want to win the Easter Bowl. It’s going to be really hard because everyone in the draw is really good.”

In 2012, Bellis was a finalist in the Girls’ 14s at the ASICS Easter and last year she won the Girls’ 16s.

For a complete look at all the final draws, log onto the website at www.usta.com/isc.

SUNDAY’S FINAL SCORES

Boys’ 18 Singles

Naoki Nakagawa (2) (Japan) def. Francis Tiafoe (1) (College Park, MD) 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (5)

Girls’ 18 Singles

CiCi Bellis (5) (Atherton, CA) def. Raveena Kingsley (9) (Fulton, MD) 6-3, 6-0

—Steve Pratt

Former USC Player Danielle Lao (@TheLittleGiant) Reaches New Heights on Kindle

“The Invaluable Experience” Hits as High as No. 3 on Amazon

Two-time USC All-American Tennis Player Says College Sports are the Experience of a Lifetime

Danielle Lao

Danielle Lao

ATLANTA, Georgia, (January 2, 2014) Following a successful college tennis career, Danielle Lao, a two-time All-American at USC had something to say.

Less than a year ago, Lao started putting her thoughts about college, tennis, and life down in an online Tumblr blog that started attracting more and more readers. Basically, Lao answered questions many student-athletes might have.

Lao decided to turn her writings into a Kindle book, “The Invaluable Experience” with the help of tennis and sports technology writer Rick Limpert.

Many internet surfers read blogs because they are short bursts of information and for the most part, they are free.

The question was, would anyone buy a book based on Lao’s Tumblr posts?

Lao said it didn’t matter.

“Turning my blog posts in a book was a great way to organize my scattered thoughts that I was slowly collecting since the end of my collegiate career,” explained Lao. “College tennis was such a pivotal part in my development as a player as well as a person and my hope is to share with as many people as I can, how college is such an invaluable experience.”

While Lao’s college stories and advice make for a great fodder, an equally good story is how well the book has done after just 30 days.

In its first week, “The Invaluable Experience” was the No. 3 Kindle tennis book on Amazon.com; ahead of such titles as Rafa”, by Rafael Nadal, “Serve to Win” by Novak Djokovic, Brad Gilbert’s “Winning Ugly”, “Facing Federer”, and other books written by tennis heavyweights like John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors.

“I was ecstatic (with) the news. I am so humbled to be in such great company. A lot of these authors have decorated profiles and some are grand slam champions.”

Cover of The Invaluable Experience

Lao’s nickname is “The Little Giant” and while you have to read the book to find out how she secured that unique moniker, the it has proven to be prophetic as even after 30 days the book still regularly makes the top-10 in the Kindle Store ahead of books by Peter Bodo, Monica Seles, and Allen Fox.

“The Invaluable Experience” is loaded with great advice for current and future student athletes, parents, and fans of college sports. It is available as a Kindle download on Amazon.com and through the book’s website at http://laod38.wix.com/thelittlegiant

“Danielle is what college sports are all about,” added Limpert. “This book is bigger than just the sport of tennis, as it has crossover appeal for anyone looking to play sports in college.”

About Danielle Lao:

Danielle Lao was a member of the USC Women’s Tennis Team (2009-2013). During her time there, she lead the Trojans to back to back PAC 12 Team championships and was team captain her senior year. She wraps up her collegiate career as a two time singles All-American, 3 time ITA title holder, and a recipient of both the Southwest Region Rookie and Senior of the Year. Danielle is currently pursuing a professional career.

About Rick Limpert:

Rick Limpert is an Atlanta-based freelance writer who covers tennis and sports technology for the likes of Yahoo, Examiner.com, TennisRecruiting.net, the Atlanta-Journal Constitution and others. He hosts the popular “Tech Tuesday” gadget segment on Sirius/XM PGA Tour Radio and he is the 2013 USTA Georgia “Tennis Writer of the Year” and won the 2013 USTA Southern Section Marc Kaplan Media Excellence Award.

—R. Limpert

North Carolina, California Winners @USTA 14U Junior Team Tennis at National Championships

North Carolina, California Winners @USTA 14U Junior Team Tennis at National Championships

2013  USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships

Wilmington, N.C. and Southern California team from San Diego, Calif. claim intermediate and advanced titles

CAYCE, S.C (Oct. 21, 2013) — Two teams were crowned Sunday at the 2013 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14U National Championships, held at the Cayce Tennis and Fitness Center in Cayce, S.C., Oct. 18 – 20. A team from Wilmington, N.C., representing the USTA Southern Section, captured the Intermediate Division title while a team from San Diego, Calif., representing USTA Southern California, earned the Advanced title.

The 2013 USTA Jr. Team Tennis 14U National Championships brought together the top 32 teams at the Advance and Intermediate level from various USTA Sections throughout the country.

“This week featured a fun group of really enthusiastic kids,” said Adrienne Di Menna, USTA Jr. Team Tennis National Manager. “We crowned two brand-new national champions, yet the biggest win was seeing how the teams interacted with one another and established friendships. With technology and social media being what it is today, we think it’s awesome that we have players from different sections staying in touch long after they’ve left South Carolina. I think they all realize that we’re part of one big national team, trying to grow this sport.”

The Wilmington team, defeated a team from San Diego, Calif., 56 games to 44 in the Championship match. Earlier in the tournament, they defeated a team from Oklahoma City, Ok. 50-34 in the semifinals.

2013  USTA Junior Team Tennis National Championships

The team is coached by Lauren Isenhour and Jon Ingham and features: Keegan Bigoness, Lila Das, Lexi Lampkin, PJ Middleton, Taylor Walicki, Patrick Senior, Holland Baynard, Kara Ferner, Eddie Janosko, Robert Schuett and Westley Gaines.

“This is huge for them, this has been a goal that they’ve had for over a year now, talking about it every week at practice,” said Isenhour, of her squad that just missed Nationals last season. “Our team has worked so hard for this moment right here, so we’re really proud of them.”

The San Diego team, defeated a team from Providence, R.I., 50 games to 37 in the Championship match. Earlier in the tournament, they defeated a team from Ocean Springs, Ms., 56-34 in the semifinals.

The team is coached by Solomon Liu and features: Jennifer Kerr, Julia Ronney, Andrew Hu, Robert Liu, Kiev Moores, Nicholas Appel, Timothy Sah, Ryan Seggerman, Nicole Mossme and Olia Javidi.

“There’ll be a huge party when we get back home that’s going to be off the hook,” said Coach Liu. He and his team of 10 from San Diego were experiencing their first Jr. Team Tennis National Championship. “It was a fantastic experience. There’s no guarantees going forward, so to do this in the first year is special. Some of our kids are aging out [in the 14 & Under division], but we’ll try to come back in a few years and win it all in the 18s.”

—S. Houseknecht

2013 @USTAProCircuit @TiburonChallngr Preview, Predictions

2013 USTA Pro Circuit Tiburon Challenger Preview, Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast

TiburonChallenger_Logo

The USTA Pro Circuit continues its California swing with a 100k event in Tiburon on hard courts. Here’s your preview.

First Republic Bank Tiburon Challenger
USTA Pro Circuit
Tiburon,CA,USA
October 7-October 13, 2013
Prize Money: $100,000

Top 8 seeds
1: Denis Kudla
2: Tim Smyczek
3: Matt Ebden
4: Alex Kuznetsov
5: Rajeev Ram
6: Rhyne Williams
7: Donald Young
8: Bradley Klahn

Identical seeds as the event last week in Sacramento.

First round matchups to watch:

(3)Matt Ebden vs. Filip Peliwo

Matt Ebden

Matt Ebden

Matt Ebden has been in good form post US Open, reaching the semis, finals, and quarterfinals in his last 3 events. Peliwo meanwhile is moving up the rankings at 19, and is nearly inside the top 250 now. This year he has one challenger semifinal, and a host of good results at the futures level, including one futures title last month. Ebden has more experience and good form, but Peliwo could pull off the upset and continue his rise.

(6)Rhyne Williams vs. Nick Kyrgios

Williams lost in the first round of Sacramento to Dan Evans, while Kyrgios comes off semis in the same event. Both are up and coming players with plenty of talent and this could go either way, but I think Kyrgios will continue to work his way up the rankings and grab a win.

Top Half:

Denis Kudla, who is struggling a bit, is coming off a first round loss in Sacramento. He’ll open with wild card Mitchell Frank, and if he wins, he sees James McGee or Austin Krajicek in the second round. In the quarters, one of Steve Johnson/JP Smith/Daniel Nguyen/Rajeev Ram awaits and they could all use a good result.

Ebden/Peliwo will play either wild card Marcos Giron or Sam Groth, a Sacramento quarterfinalist, in round 2. The winner will get one of Williams/Kyrgios/Ben Mitchell/Qualifier in the quarters in what is a very open section.

Bottom Half:

Sacramento finalist Tim Smyczek will open with Matt Reid, while Denys Molchanov/Salvatore Caruso await on deck. Smyczek could perhaps get a Sacramento final rematch with Donald Young in the quarters.

Young is in good form and needs wins over a qualifier and Peter Gojowczyk/Dan Evans to reach that point.

Alex Kuznetsov will face Jarmere Jenkins, who comes off semis in Sacramento, while Kuznetsov lost in round 1 of the same event. If Kuznetsov wins, he could get a rematch with Peter Polansky, who bested him in Sacramento. Polansky just has to beat wild card Campbell Johnson.

The quarterfinalist from this section will face Bradley Klahn, a pair of qualifiers or Tennys Sandgren in the quarters.

Predictions

Semis:

Ebden d. Ram
Smyczek d. Klahn

Final:

Ebden d. Smyczek