Thursday's Matches to Watch: Pliskova v. Hsieh; Del Potro v. Opelka

Thursday's Matches to Watch: Pliskova v. Hsieh; Del Potro v. Opelka

Pliskova is coming off a gutsy win over Alison Riske in the Dubai round of 16.

Karolina Pliskova vs. Su-Wei Hsieh

Karolina Pliskova (CZE) - WTA No. 5, UTR No.3 (13.33) 
Su-Wei Hsieh (TPE) - WTA No. 31, UTR No. 27 (12.99) 

Don’t sleep on Su-Wei Hsieh! After a strong performance in Melbourne, she just defeated Angelique Kerber in a three-set battle to advance to the Dubai quarterfinals. While this match could very well end up being a straightforward, straight-set victory for the powerful Karolina Pliskova, you rarely see a contrast of styles as exciting as this. 

No one plays like Su-Wei Hsieh. She reminds me of a female Fabrice Santoro mixed with a little Marcelo Rios. She opens up the court using angles that no one else in the sports would dare to even try. She has hands of gold, and is hitting her stride at the ripe old age of 33. 

The courts in Dubai play very quick, which benefits both players. There is a chance that Pliskova overpowers the much smaller Hsieh, racking up aces and unreturned serves, while feasting on the Hsieh second serve. Whatever the outcome, this will not be your routine match, there will be some extraordinary points.  Look for the raw power of Pliskova to prove too much for the tricky veteran Hsieh. 

Juan Martin del Potro vs. Reilly Opelka

Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) - ATP No. 4, UTR No. 3 (15.97) 
Reilly Opelka (USA) - ATP No. 56, UTR No. 74 (15.08)

Reilly Opelka is on a tear: Over the last two weeks he catapulted himself from outside the ATP Top 100 to No. 56 in the world. The seven-footer won the New York Open, flew to Delray, and within 48 hours beat Tennys Sandgren, 6-4, 6-0. He is playing the best tennis of his life. 

Juan Martin Del Potro was understandably rusty in his first match in four months, but still managed to dispatch a talented Yoshihito Nishioka with relative ease. The Argentine still had his serve and forehand, but his movement is not quite back. This may be the best chance Reilly Opelka ever gets to beat the legendary Del Potro. 

Historically, Del Potro fares well against big servers, as his massive wingspan allows him to reach a few extra balls on both the forehand and backhand side. Del Potro is about 6'7'', so the trajectory of an Opelka serve won’t bother him like it would a shorter player. At some point Opelka will run out of gas, but he should have enough left in the tank to give the Delray Beach fans a very close, tiebreaker-filled match. 



ATP Rio De Janeiro
• Starting Monday 2/18, at 2:30 pm ET, catch live coverage of the Rio Open featuring Dominic Thiem, Fabio Fognini, and Diego Schwartzman.


WTA Dubai
• Watch Naomi Osaka, Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep and Karolina Pliskova live from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships starting Saturday, 2/16 at 3:00 am ET

WTA Budapest
• Tennis Channel Plus features live coverage of the Hungarian Ladies Open beginning Monday, 2/18 8:00 am ET

ATP Delray Beach
• Watch Juan Martin del Potro, John Isner and Frances Tiafoe live on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Tuesday, 2/19 at 12:30 am ET.

ATP Marseille
• See Karen Khachanov, Borna Coric and Stefanos Tsitsipas live on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday 2/18, 8:30 am ET