"Cream of the Crop" Beanalysis: San Deigo Round One
Holt vs. Lestienne
Brandon Holt is back after his heroic upset at the US Open a few weeks back. I have no idea where this dude came from. It’s insane. He had been playing 100% on the challenger tour except for the tournament at Newport where he didn’t even qualify. He then proceeded to win the US Open qualifiers, and then absolutely trash on Taylor Fritz. I don’t know if that was a fluke or something, but if that was the Holt breakthrough, I was there for it. I think that Holt definitely sports a chance to win here, considering he just beat the American number one, at the US Open no less. Holt looked absurdly calm and collected during the match against Fritz, and that seemed out of character for someone who is playing in his first main draw on the ATP main tour. I think that if he plays his best like he did against Fritz, and keeps his cool like that, he definitely can make this match into a win.
Lestienne is a name that I have not heard much of, but then again, Holt was unheard of before the US Open. I’m 100% sure that if Lestienne had actually qualified for the US Open, I would’ve done research on him prior to this tournament, and holy crap! This dude won all but 3 of his matches since Wimbledon. (I didn’t include the walkover because that doesn’t really count in my book) That is insane. I think I figured out why this dude is the favorite to win this match. It’s about time that he breaks onto the main tour, and I think he can definitely pull it off here. This match has the stakes for sure, the winner of this has officially broken onto the main tour, well, Holt kinda has already, but this is to prove that the other match wasn’t a fluke. I think that, solely because of Lestienne winning most of his matches against Challenger level players in the last month, Lestienne wins this one in 3.
Johnson vs. Tabilo
WELL WELL WELL, IF IT ISN’T MY FAVORITE MOUSTACHE MAN! Steve Johnson has been seemingly stuck in the qualifiers of ATP tour tournaments. He got a main draw entry into the US Open, but it was in vain, because he got pit against Dimitrov, and he just wasn’t at the point of winning yet. Johnson plays some pretty good tennis, I just think this year has been bad for him, he’s unable to break the cycle of losing in round two of the qualifying for tournaments. He did get main draw entry here, and this tournament might be just what he needs to get back into main tournaments and make a run at the top 100 again. His draw looks pretty easy, especially if Dan Evans gets upset early here.
Alejandro Tabilo is a hot mess right now. I don’t know where he was during the NA hard swing. Maybe he was trying to mimic Garin by disappearing after Wimbledon. I don’t have much to go off of here, because the only non-slam he’s played since Wimbledon is Winston-Salem, and that’s not much to go on. He beat some Japanese kid who’s ranked 300th or something there, and he beat Kamil Majcharak at the USo Open, but I don’t even think Kamil is ranked 100 yet, so that isn’t much either. Tabilo is still seeded sixth, though, which is odd. Everyone else must be going through post-slam blues. Or they’re at Metz. Tabilo doesn’t seem like much of a threat to Johnson in my opinion. I think this one could definitely bring Johnson out of qualifying and onto the main tour, and so that leads to my prediction being Johnson in 2.
Popyrin vs. Duckworth
Popyrin has been quite the opposite of Tabilo since Wimbledon, playing in a tournament about every week up to the US Open, where he made it to the second round. I think that Popyrin isn’t really playing that well at the tournaments, but hey, he gets a participation trophy. Popyrin is, in my opinion, not in the place where he can pull an upset like this off. He has a terrible net game, and that is a weakness that can be exploited easily. His serve is alright, but it’s nothing special. I think most of his strokes are like the fire sauce from Taco Bell, they’re hot the first couple times you try it, but then the heat just disappears. I think Popyrin has the ability to elevate a little more if he puts in a lot of hard work, but at the moment, he’s not there.
Duckworth has been winning the first rounds of most of the 250s that he’s been playing in the recent months, and he’s been active in some challengers in the time since the US Open. He was quite successful in one of them, and then turned around and lost the first round of the next. Regardless, he’s playing at a level that is definitely good enough to not lose this match, and I think he has the ability to make it to the semis if he plays really well, and gets lucky with the draw. I think it could definitely open up for him, and Duckworth winning is something I can get behind. My opinion on this match is that Duckworth is gonna win in 2.
Huesler vs. Galan
Huesler was Huesling quite well at Winston-Salem Open, making it to the semifinals and doing his regular Huesl…. Man, nothing works with Huesler besides Huesling, but I digress. I think that Huesler has what it takes to win here. Huesler’s defense is not the best, and he doesn’t really hold a candle to the higher ranked players on the tour. I think he has the stuff to beat Galan here, but I’m not sure if Galan will go down that easily after the incredible win he netted against Tsitsipas at the US Open. This match is one of the harder ones to make an accurate prediction on, considering that the form of these two is one of the key factors to think about for this one. Huesler’s form looks good recently, and he has the form that could beat someone like Galan a month ago, but Galan’s performance at the US Open is reason for doubting this.
I think that Galan has many advantages here. His shotmaking is much better, he puts more speed on the ball, he is fresh off a top 5 win at a slam, and he just looks to be playing at a very high level. I think that he ran Tsitsipas a lot across the court, and he just seemed to be on fire during the entire match. If he can retain this form, I’m not sure. There is a lot to think about here, considering Galan has less experience in the main draws of ATP tournaments than Huesler, but he’s just playing so much better than Huesler at this point. I think he definitely has the ability to take this match easily in 2, but I think Huesler has the ability to pull it out to three. For that reason, I think it’s gonna be Galan in 4.