Hollywoodbets Sports Blog: 2020 ATP Tour: ATP Masters 1000 Series

2020 ATP Tour: ATP Masters 1000 Series

ATP Tour 2020: Dubai Duty-Free Tennis Championships

We take a look at the selected Quarterfinals matches from the ATP Masters 1000 Series taking place at Foro Italico, Rome, Italy (Outdoor Clay Outdoors). 

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Foro Italico, Rome, Italy (Outdoor Clay Outdoors)
ATP Masters 1000 Series
Selected Round of 32 Matches

Diego Schwartman (7/20)
vs John Millman (43/20)

John Millman is one of those pugnacious competitors who always seems to punch slightly above his weight. Yet to win an ATP title, Millman did reach the most prestigious final of his career thus far towards the end of last year, losing in straight sets to current infant terrible: Novak Djokovic. That result came in the aftermath of his victory at the Kaohsiung Challenger.  2020 started in impressive style for the Aussie- obviously thriving on the ‘Millmania’ he was able to generate in his home country. He reached the quarterfinal of the ASB Classic before taking part in one of the most epic matches of the entire Aussie Open. He lost an epic five-set match against Roger Federer to fall at the 3rd round stage. Millman’s season has dramatically declined- especially in the post-COVID bubble. But an opening-round victory over the feisty Joao Sousa is testament to the frenetic work-rate that defines Millman.  

Diego Schwartzman was low-key one of the more impressive performers on the circuit last year. The nominal clay-court specialist reached three finals last year.  He lost on his preferred surface of clay in the Argentine Open before reaching back-to-back hardcourt finals. The Vienna Open final defeat to Thiem represented a massive step forward for a man often pidgeon-holed as a clay-court player. The three-time Grand Slam quarterfinalist enjoyed an excellent South American hardcourt swing earlier this year- winning in Cordoba before reaching the semi-finals in Argentina. His results in the post-lockdown bubble have been muted, making this a potentially fascinating match between two of the more diminutive players on tour.  

I was quite surprised to discover that this will actually be their first ever match. The Argentine retired during their first-round meeting at the 2016 Aussie Open. if this were played on hardcourts, I’d be inclined to side with Millman, But the clay is like a 2nd home for the previous French Open quarterfinalist Schwartzman, and I predict a comfortable victory for the Argentine.

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Andrey Rublev (9) (2/11)
vs Hubert Hurkacz (34/10) 

This should be an interesting one. Andrey Rublev has quickly replaced Karen Khachanov as the 2nd most dangerous Russian tennis player (after Danil Medvedev that is). He has shown tremendous improvement since bursting onto the scene in the 2017 NextGen Finals. The hard-hitting baseliner made a monumental step forward last year by reaching the quarterfinal of Wimbledon. It took him out of his comfort zone and established him as a player to watch. 2020 started in epic fashion for Rublev, as he won back-to-back titles on his beloved hardcourts. A 4th round run in Melbourne was followed by consistent- if unremarkable- form leading up to the recent US Open. Rublev seemed to thrive in the New York bubble, ultimately exiting at the hands of compatriot Medvedev at the quarterfinal stage. Clay is certainly his worst surface- as evidence by the fact that he is yet to win a match at Roland Garros. He overcame the unfancied Bagnis in straight sets and will need to up his game against the combative Hubert Hurkacz.  

Young Polish talent Hubert Hurkacz has been another name that has been on the rise. This was underscored by his first ATP title victory in Winston Salem last year (where he beat Benoit Paire in the final). He then enjoyed a scintillating start to the 2020 campaign. He beat a trio of higher ranked players at the ATP Cup (Dominic Thiem, Diego Schwartzman and Borna Coric). He then followed that up with a semi-final run at the Auckland Open. Hurkacz is a big guy who moves remarkably well from the back of the court. But clay hasn’t exactly been his greatest ally. The hard-hitter generally likes to flatten out his shots on the quicker surfaces. His victory over Dan Evans in the opening round did show a tenacity that will bode well in this game against the dynamic Rublev.  

Once again, this will be the first time these two will have met. When you look at the clay-court form of both players over the past few years- there’s very little to separate the players.  It’s on the hardcourts that Rublev has really distinguished himself. So perhaps there’s some value in a Hurkacz upset victory (particularly with potential hangover effects from Rublev’s deep US Open run).   

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