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  • Johnson, Williams take college rivalry to Memphis

    2/18/13 5:13 AM | Ricky Dimon
    Johnson, Williams take college rivalry to Memphis Three Americans will be featured on Monday as the 500-point Memphis event gets underway. Steve Johnson is going up against Rhyne Williams while Ryan Harrison battles Polish veteran Lukasz Kubot.



    (WC) Steve Johnson vs. (Q) Rhyne williams

    Johnson and williams will be squaring off for the second time at the professional level when they do battle in round one of the U.S. National Indoor Tennis Championships on Monday. They faced each other last fall at the Charlottesville Challenger (also on an indoor hard court), where williams prevailed 4-6, 6-4, 6-4. Two of the nation's best college players in recent seasons, they went head-to-head twice in individual competitions. williams won 1-6, 6-1, 6-4 for the 2010 indoor title before Johnson got revenge with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 victory to capture the 2011 National Championship.

    Both men are off to a good start to their pro careers. Johnson qualified for the Australian Open before losing to Nicolas Almagro in five sets and he beat Ivo Karlovic last week in San Jose. williams won the USTA's wild card into Melbourne before falling to Florian Mayer in five. The world No. 159 (as of Sunday) already had a good weekend in Memphis, qualifying for the main draw thanks to defeats of Tim Smyczek and Daniel Munoz-De La Nava. Based on a slight edge in current form and the indoor surface, williams in three sets is the pick.

    Ryan Harrison vs. Lukasz Kubot

    Harrison and Kubot will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers when they clash in the Memphis first round on Monday. Kubot is a modest 2-3 this year, but his only indoor hard-court performance resulted in a straight-set Davis Cup thrashing of Grega Zemlja. That bodes well for the 81st-ranked Pole, who is making his second appearance at this event following a quarterfinal finish in 2012.

    Although he generally does his best work on American hard courts, Harrison bowed out of San Jose right away with a disappointing loss to Benjamin Becker. The world No. 57 (as of Sunday) fared relatively well during the Australian summer, qualifying for both Brisbane and Sydney (reach the quarterfinals) before losing to Novak Djokovic in the second round of the season's first Grand Slam. This one could go either way, but Harrison in three sets is the pick.




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