Atlanta 2021: Men's draw analysis, preview & prediction | Truist Atlanta Open

Nick Kyrgios features in the Atlanta Open
Nick Kyrgios features in the Atlanta Open

With the European claycourt swing drawing to a close, tennis heads to American shores for the Truist Atlanta Open.

Top seed Milos Raonic leads the field in Atlanta. The Canadian will be playing on tour for the first time since losing to Hubert Hurkacz in the Miami Masters back in March.

Italian sensation Jannik Sinner is the second seed and will feature for the first time since his opening-round defeat to Marton Fucsovics at Wimbledon. Newly crowned Los Cabos champion Cameron Norrie is the third seed, while home favorite Reilly Opelka rounds out the top four.

Taylor Fritz, John Isner, Benoit Paire, and Lloyd Harris complete the top eight seeds. The Atlanta draw also features Nick Kyrgios, Kevin Anderson, Brandon Nakashima, Sam Querrey, and Jack Sock.

The Truist Open is an ATP 250 event with a prize pool of $555,995. Main-draw action is scheduled to begin on 26 July.

On that note, here's a look at how the draw is expected to unfold.

Top half: Milos Raonic returns, Nick Kyrgios hopes to deal some damage in Atlanta

Milos Raonic is back in action
Milos Raonic is back in action

Seeded players: [1] Milos Raonic, [3] Cameron Norrie, [7] Benoit Paire, and [8] Lloyd Harris

Expected semifinal: Milos Raonic vs Cameron Norrie

Dark horse: Nick Kyrgios

Analysis: Milos Raonic returns to action after a long injury lay-off. He has been given a bye in the first round and will face Trent Bryde or Brandon Nakashima in the second round.

Nakashima finished as the runner-up at the recently concluded Mifel Open in Los Cabos. The teenager beat a host of experienced players, including John Isner and Sam Querrey, in the Mexican city and could provide a stern challenge to Raonic.

Querrey, meanwhile, opens his Atlanta campaign against a qualifier. In the second round, the American will face either Jordan Thompson or Lloyd Harris.

Harris returns to action for the first time since his second-round defeat to Andrey Rublev at Wimbledon. The Protean, who finished as the runner-up in Dubai, has a 15-13 win-loss record in 2021 so far.

Third seed Cameron Norrie has also been given a bye in the first round. The Brit is enjoying the best season of his career and was rewarded for his efforts with a run to the title in Los Cabos.

Norrie enjoys a 35-14 win-loss record this year and is quite definitely one of the men to beat in Atlanta. However, it remains to be seen if the Brit's exploits in Mexico have taken a toll on him physically ahead of the Truist Open.

Cameron Norrie
Cameron Norrie

Norrie's second-round opponent will be either Nick Kyrgios or Kevin Anderson, who will lock horns in a mouth-watering first-round fixture.

Kyrgios, who won the title in 2016, will be playing for the first time since retiring due to injury in his third-round match against Felix Auger-Aliassime at Wimbledon. Kevin Anderson, meanwhile, comes into the tournament in fine form. He won his seventh career title at the Hall of Fame Open last week.

Anderson enjoys a 2-0 head-to-head advantage against Kyrgios, but they last played each other on a hardcourt in 2016.

Norrie lost his only previous meeting against Anderson, while his head-to-head against Kyrgios stands at 1-1. The Australian retired while trailing 5-7, 0-3 against Norrie during their 2018 encounter in Atlanta, but beat the Brit in the 2020 ATP Cup.

Mackenzie McDonald and Emil Ruusuvuori also feature in the top half and have been drawn to face each other in the first round. The American defeated the Finn in four sets at Roland Garros this year.

Ruusuvuori has been touted as the next big thing in men's tennis, but he has failed to deliver this year and holds a 10-12 win-loss record.

Elsewhere, Benoit Paire will face Yasutaka Uchiyama in the first round. The Japanese has beaten Paire before (Tokyo 2019) but must be wary of the Frenchman's recent resurgence.

Paire made the quarterfinals in Hamburg as well as Gstaad, where he pushed Casper Ruud to three sets.

Predicted semifinal result: Nick Kyrgios def. Milos Raonic

Bottom half: Big-serving Americans look to topple Jannik Sinner

Jannik Sinner at Wimbledon
Jannik Sinner at Wimbledon

Seeded players: [2] Jannik Sinner, [4] Reilly Opelka, [5] Taylor Fritz, and [6] John Isner

Expected semifinal: Jannik Sinner vs Reilly Opelka

Dark horse: Jack Sock

Analysis: Jannik Sinner enters the 2021 Truist Atlanta Open on a three-match losing streak. The Italian has not beaten anyone on the tour since registering a win over Mikael Ymer in the third round at Roland Garros.

Sinner's defeats have come against Rafael Nadal, Jack Draper, and Marton Fucsovics, and he will be eager to turn things around in Atlanta.

The Italian teenager has received a bye in the first round and will face Denis Kudla or a qualifier in the second round. Kudla has beaten Sinner on American soil before, when the two locked horns in the 2020 Oracle Challenger Series at Indian Wells.

Meanwhile, Jack Sock opens his campaign against Ricardas Berankis. Berankis and Sock have faced each other once before, in 2013 (Delray Beach), with the Lithuanian winning in three sets.

Sock, who has plummeted down the rankings in recent seasons, has witnessed an upturn in fortunes of late. He won a Challenger event in Little Rock in June and also made the quarterfinals of the Hall of Fame Open, where he lost to eventual champion Kevin Anderson.

Should Sock survive the Berankis test, he will face a fellow American in the second round in the form of five-time champion John Isner or J.J Wolf. Isner and Wolf both lost to Nakashima in Los Cabos and will be keen to bounce back on home soil.

Can John Isner make a deep run in Atlanta?
Can John Isner make a deep run in Atlanta?

Isner and Wolf have never faced each other before. But considering the 36-year-old's pedigree, he should be the favorite to come through this match.

In the third quarter, Reilly Opelka, Jannik Sinner's doubles partner in Atlanta, has received a bye in the opening round. The big-serving American will face Andreas Seppi or a qualifier in the second.

Rising Australian Alexei Popyrin will face Steve Johnson in the first round, with the winner set to cross swords with fifth seed and 2019 runner-up Taylor Fritz in the second. Going by the seedings, Fritz is Opelka's projected quarterfinal opponent in Atlanta.

Predicted semifinal result: Jannik Sinner def. Taylor Fritz

Predicted champion

Jannik Sinner

Edited by Arvind Sriram
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