ATP Korea Open gets underway in Seoul. Taylor Fritz and Mackenzie Macdonald will battle it out in the round of 16.
2022 ATP Tour
Eugene Korea Open Tennis Championships
Seoul Olympic Park Tennis Centre, Seoul, South Korea (Outdoor Hardcourt)
Selected Round of 16 Matches- 29th September
Taylor Fritz (3) (29/100) vs Mackenzie Macdonald (5/2)
I was one of those who thought that 24-year-old Taylor Fritz had a chance of making his mark at the US Open. All the signs were pointing to a deep run for the American Number 1.
He has enjoyed an exceptional season, winning the massive Indian Wells title prior to another title at Eastbourne. He actually broke Rafa’s 20-match winning streak with victory in the Indian Wells final.
He also made significant headway on the Grand Slam circuit, reaching the 4th round of the Aussie Open prior to a maiden Grand Slam quarterfinal run at Wimbledon. He reached the quarters at Cincinnati on the eve of his US Open appearance.
I just figured the ebullient Fritz would thrive in front of his fanatical home support. But he lost in the first round to relative unknown Brandon Holt. It was a pretty deflating result for the American and he has played very little tennis since.
He won his only Davis Cup match against Cameron Norrie and this will be his first individual tournament since Flushing Meadows.
Fritz’s first opponent this week will be 27-year-old compatriot Mackenzie Macdonald. And on the surface, it looks like he couldn’t have picked a better adversity.
Macdonald has really enjoyed a pretty dire campaign. In fact, if he were to win this match it would be the first time since the French Open that he won successive matches. He has actually only won six of 16 matches since Roland Garros. Macdonald is a big server who really has massive potential.
He demonstrated that with an excellent run to the ATP 500 final in Washington last year. He also demonstrated that in his first-round victory against Pedro Martinez.
He looked shaky in the early stages, having to save four break-points in the 5th game of the opening set. But he stabilized to take the match in straight-sets.
He served excellently, winning 83% of his first-serve points and hammering down 10 aces. He will need to serve at a similar level to remain competitive against Fritz.
Verdict: Fritz to win in straight-sets at 82/100- These two have met several times at various different levels.
But it was actually Macdonald who won their only encounter on the full tour, edging past Fritz in three sets at the 2019 Delray Beach Classic. I was initially looking at this match as potential upset fodder. But I can’t rationalize my way into going against Fritz.
He is simply too good for Macdonald and should win comfortably in straight-sets.
Jenson Brooksby (8) (1/2) vs Soon-Woo Kwon (6/4)
21-year-old Jenson Brooksby is yet another young American talent that many expect to go far. The tall, gangly Brooksby is certainly not your stereotypically imposing American player.
He favours a counterpunching style and is deceptively mobile for his size. His serve is actually one of the weaker aspects of his game. But he has enjoyed a solid season, rising inside the world’s top 35 for the first time in his career.
This was highlighted by two ATP final appearances in Dallas and Atlanta. Brooksby needed to call on all his hustling capabilities to win his first-round match against qualifier Wu Tung-Lin. He ultimately saved nine of 11 break points in a 2 hour, 20-minute encounter.
That win took his hardcourt record to 9-6 since the start of the US Open Series. In order to take the next step, Brooksby needs to get more cheap points on serve. He is overly reliant on his ability to hustle from the back of the court. It simply isn’t sustainable.
This could prove to be a massive week for home favourite Soon-Woo Kwon. The 24-year-old South Korean promised to deliver the goods this year after winning his maiden title at last year’s Astana Open.
But it has just proved to be a nothing year for the young man. But he will be coming into this match with a potential new lease on life after a stunning upset win in the Davis Cup.
He took down Felix Auger Aliassime in straight-sets in one of the best performances in his career. It ultimately proved futile in helping South Korea progress beyond their group. But it may just be the kickstart that Soon-Woo Kwon needed to relaunch his flagging career.
Verdict: Kwon to win in three sets at 4/1- This will be the first career meeting between these two.
I feel like this is going to be a real slugfest between two counterpunching players who don’t possess massive weapons.
I think Kwon could draw plenty of confidence from that Auger-Aliassime victory and could use the home support to power him to victory.