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Irving Challenger tennis live: Chinese Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu looks for first-round win in Texas

Alex Burton in Challengers 14 Mar 2017
  • Irving Challenger features high quality draw
  • Young Americans Jared Donaldson and Frances Tiafoe both face Russian opponents
  • Challenger specialist Yen-Hsun Lu starts against Irish wildcard
Yen-Hsun Lu.  (Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

One of the most prestigious Challenger titles in 2017, the Irving Tennis Classic, is set to get underway on Tuesday. The draw features many players who featured in Indian Wells last week, and two players in Marcel Granollers and Paolo Lorenzi with Top 40 rankings. Granollers is the defending champion, having defeated Aljaz Bedene in last year's final. Granollers is also the top seed. 

Tuesday's main draw matches and predictions: 

 Lukas Lacko vs (WC) Sergiy Stakhovsky: Both of these players are recognisable names in ATP 250 draws or higher. Yet neither were able to secure direct entry into this event, with Stakhovsky in the draw by virtue of a wildcard and Lacko an alternate. Lacko leads the head-to-head across all matches including qualifying draws and Challengers 3-1. However, Stakhovsky won their most recent meeting in Bratislava last year. 

Lacko enjoyed an excellent start to the year, qualifying and then reaching the third round of the Australian Open. Despite the good start, Lacko has since been upset in each of his next two events. He fell in the second round to the No. 466 Egor Gerasimov in Bergamo, and No.402 Michal Przysiezny in Wroclaw. Now in the third month of the season Lacko's current form can be considered poor. 

Sergiy Stakhovsky's form is not vastly different when compared to Lacko's. The Ukrainian has been upset in two of his last three events. He lost to Ernests Gulbis in Rotterdam qualifying, and James McGee in Dubai qualifying. Between those poor results he did qualifying and reach the Round of 16 in Marseille, defeating Jiri Vesely in his first main draw match win of 2017. Pick: Lukas Lacko

(6) Andrey Kuznetsov vs Jared Donaldson: Jared Donaldson's 2017 does not make for good reading for the young American to date. Since reaching the Round of 16 as a qualifier in Brisbane, Donaldson has not won back-to-back matches. He lost four straight matches starting with a five set loss to Rogerio Dutra Silva at the Australian Open. 

Kuznetsov's form almost mirrors Donaldson's, with a good start to the year checked by a five-set loss in the first round of the Australian Open. He since has also gone on a losing streak, currently at four in a row. Kuznetsov's defeats typically come in matches at a higher level than Donaldson's. Therefore, the Russian is the favourite. Pick: Andrey Kuznetsov

Renzo Olivo vs Jeremy Chardy: Chardy has already reached two ATP quarter-finals this season in Auckland and Montpellier respectively. However, in the case of Auckland he had some luck in drawing a local wildcard, and then receiving a walkover from the injured Feliciano Lopez in the second round. His season has also been hit by some surprising losses in Challengers to the likes of Andrey Rublev and Steven Diez respectively.

Olivo's season has unsurprisingly seen the Argentine feature predominantly on the clay. He reached the quarter-finals in Quito, before two consecutive first round exits. He has at least some pedigree on hard courts, demonstrated by his run to the third round of the Australian Open last year. However, he is unlikely to be able to win this one. Pick: Jeremy Chardy

Frances Tiafoe vs Konstantin Kravchuk: Tiafoe has had a good start to the season, highlighted by his first qualification for a grand slam main draw, and first grand slam win at the Australian Open. Two Challenger quarter-finals and a close defeat in Acapulco to Juan Martin del Potro highlight his development as a player, though his opening round defeat to Dusan Lajovic could be considered disappointing. 

Kravchuk has had a hard start to the year, with defeats in all of his matches outside of Challengers. This equates to six consecutive losses at tour, slam, and Davis Cup levels. Tiafoe reached the quarter-finals at this event last year, and will be backed by a good home crowd. 
Pick: Frances Tiafoe

(WC) James McGee vs (8) Yen-Hsun Lu: McGee is an unusual pick for a wildcard, but the Irishman is a regular feature at Challenger events. He has suffered first round exits in all three of his Challenger appearances in 2017. He did reach the qualifying round of the Australian Open, and beat Sergiy Stakhovsky in Dubai qualifying.

McGee faces a player who is one of the Challenger Tour's most decorated, Yen-Hsun Lu. The Chinese Taipei player has won 26 career titles at this level. Surprisingly given how regularly both these players feature on the Challenger Tour, they have not met before. Pick: Yen-Hsun Lu

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Irving Challenger tennis live: Chinese Taipei's Yen-Hsun Lu looks for first-round win in Texas

Yen-Hsun Lu and Marcel Granollers are among those in action at the Irving Challenger on Tuesday: First-round Irving Challenger tennis live

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