2021 US Open ATP Round Two Predictions
First round impression from the US Open are that the courts are playing really fast. Big hitters are thriving, and the hot and humid conditions are making a lot of matches go the distance. Personal impressions are that watching 16 tennis matches at once is not ideal, so I may consider becoming a spider.
Djokovic vs Griekspoor :
Rune played a great match, and it was just what the fans needed to see Djokovic elevate his game. Losing the second set was a blip, but not an overly concerning one. Now we get Djokovic vs Griekspoor, which I expect to not be as close, despite Griekspoor likely being a favorite if he plays Rune. Griekspoor dug in and played great to beat Struff, but there’s a huge step up against Novak and Griekspoor doesn’t quite have the power to really slow him down.
Nishikori vs McDonald :
Now we’re cooking. Nishikori opened his match with Caruso about as expected, leaving the struggling power-hitter a bit out of sorts to the tune of 6-1, 6-1. The problems with Nishikori’s game showed themselves at that point; his serve tends to disappear as the matches extend. Caruso snagged the third set and had looks at the 4th but Nishikori was a bit too much, and Caruso will have to start regrouping for next season pretty soon if he wants to remain on tour. McDonald and Goffin exchanged momentum a number of times, and the ATP’s most adorable match of the day had some fun rallies. Goffin is a rusty fellow at this point, and I’m not sure that he’ll make a return to form at this point unless he steps it up in the indoor season.
McDonald can beat Nishikori but he’ll need to be extremely careful with his offensive attempts and keep the play to Nishi’s forehand as much as possible. From a spectator’s perspective, this is a great matchup. For an analyst, it’s a bit of a nightmare. Mackie’s backhand is nowhere near as good as Kei’s, but he’s a bit younger and has been playing his best tennis this year so he has a minor advantage in perceived form coming into this event. On the other hand, Nishikori’s serve and forehand may be a liability against the top 10, but McDonald isn’t going to overwhelm his defenses too often. Mental and physical stamina are likely to be important here, and Goffin was a decent warmup for the type of long rallies they’re going to play. McDonald beat Nishikori in a three setter just a few weeks ago in Washington, and I would say that makes this as even a 2nd round match as you’re going to find. Oddsmakers set this at -175 for Nishikori which might be more about expected investment than the outcome. With the H2H at 1-1 lifetime, this is an important match, and for McDonald who is entering that Norrie stage where he has a lot of wins but is still being regarded as a 2nd tier player. A win here removes this in my mind, which is good because there is not much room in the brain of a turtle. Despite his stellar play and his win, this is a major heat check for McDonald. Nishikori in 5.
Karatsev vs Thompson :
I’m sorry Steve Johnson, I’ve had some time to think it over, and Jordan Thompson has the best bad moustache on tour. It consistently makes me chuckle, and now I get to watch it for more rounds than usual. Mager plays such a big and classy offense that he was a threat in his match against Thompson, but he needs a bit too much time and the USO courts are playing hyper fast right now. The best thing about Thompson is how he keeps his strategy simple. His own mobility could lead him to turn into a pusher but he always looks to move the ball to the open court. This will be useful against Karatsev, but he is a whole different type of offensive talent than Mager. Karatsev has the offensive prowess to elevate him enough to compete with the top players in tennis, but his movement and defense are still tour level. This was evident when he got in trouble against Jaume Munar in the first round. Karatsev was able to turn things around and when he did have opportunities to close out, it was done promptly. Munar should be happy with the performance, but the lack of an offensive serve is something he’ll need to sort out to move his hardcourt game anywhere near the level he can play on clay. In this match I would expect to see a very similar scoreline, but Thompson is a bit more dangerous since he is very comfortable on hardcourt. He’ll defend and extend rallies, but Karatsev should have the upper hand as far as holding serve. Aslan is actually a tremendous returner since he stands in and blocks the ball rather than standing back and letting serves get high on him like, for some reason, most of the tour. It feels bad to get the ball bounced off you or make errors, but if you don’t apply pressure to your opponents serves you wind up in the type of match Fucsovics did today. Karatsev is really struggling to find that peak form he had earlier in the season, so Thompson will be a threat, but Aslan has the better game for these courts. Karatsev in 4.
Brooksby vs Fritz/De Minaur to be added in tomorrow :
Fritz vs Brooksby : This will be quick since I spaced on writing it earlier. I lean Brooksby in this match. He was slated as a favorite against Mikael Ymer who just made the finals of a tournament the week before. Fair enough, but it’s a pretty confident position for an untested offensive talent against one of the tour’s fastest and best defenders. Brooksby came through with somewhat flying colors, and I think the best part about his game is how good he is from the baseline for a server. Why I don’t think this is a walkover is how well Fritz hit his backhand the other night against De Minaur. He always serves fairly well, and his forehand is a bit wild but big enough that with time, he is a top 30 player. I am a known Fritz doubter, and I have to factor this into my analysis here. I don’t like to admit when Fritz is playing well, but I do have to point out that he beat De Minaur who has not looked anything like himself since having Covid. He has the same forlorn exhausted look to him as Goffin, and he doesn’t seem to be getting to the ball as quickly or serving to any effect right now. The oddsmakers have already removed all the cushion from the price here, making this even odds, but I still think it’s a pretty clear indication that Brooksby will have a strong chance here. It reminds me a tiny bit of the Gauff Stephens matchup, because if Fritz plays solid Brooksby may try to force the issue a bit and make errors. Brooksby is likely to hold serve well though and this was a major issue for De Minaur in round one. Brooksby in 4, but I’d expect some tiebreakers here.
Hurkacz vs Seppi :
Hurkacz was one of the only players who had an uneventful match today. Gerasimov brought his usual skillful serving game, but Hurkacz’s height (similar Cilic) makes him a more frustrating returner than he should be. He’s very good about blocking on the backhand side and he’s starting to take care of his own service games much better than the past few seasons.
On the other side of the stadium, Fucsovics and Seppi played a matchthat was as entertaining as it was difficult to watch. After going down two sets to one, Fucsovics won a dominant 4th set 6-2. He had some looks in the fifth, but Seppi is just a very similar player to him from the baseline and didn’t give him much. By the 5th both had devolved into a bit of pushing, and the tiebreaker was one of the best moments of the day. Fucsovics went up 4-1 and 6-4 but just couldn’t generate any offense when he tried. Seppi’s own service offerings from there were largely unreturned, while Fucsovics had great difficulty getting Seppi to make a single error. I would say that Seppi returned 95% of the serves in the tiebreaker, and despite making some errors in long rallies which kept Fucsovics around, he was the player more composed towards the end. And the end, was a 15-13 tiebreaker which saw both players wind up with around 6 match points each. I’m not sure what’s left in Seppi after that match, but Fucsovics even looked tired towards the end and he is so musclebound that his face contains only one experssion.
Hurkacz should win this going away, but Seppi represents a solid test of his baseline ability. The thing lacking for Fucsovics to put away the match was cheap service points though, and it is likely that Hurkacz will have those despite Seppi’s solid backhand returning. Today and last night I got to watch Seppi and RBA basically negate a solid service game by just sitting on the T serve. It’s something some of the younger players can learn from. I think Hurkacz’s play this year has been good enough that he pushes through here. Seppi is likely to be a bit fatigued, and he will struggle to hold serve against a more offensive returner. Hurkacz in 4.
Kudla vs Otte :
Dennis Kudla and Djere had a fine match but Kudla is just a bit more comfortable on a fast hardcourt. He has better variety on his backhand and his serve was much more reliable. His next opponent played one of the most ridiculously entertaining matches of the day. Oscar Otte (who my brain insists is named Otto Otte) and Lorenzo Sonego swung for the fences for the entire match, and the result was some really wild swings of momentum. Otte was down 5-0 in the opening set tiebreak and I turned it off. The next score was 5-5. I had taken the over 37 in this match and felt Otte needed the first set. Down 5-2 in the second, I felt things were over. Nope. Otte managed to reel off the next 4 games in a row. I cannot say enough about the mental fortitude he has shown in majors this year, and the Zverev match is less an outlier now and more one that Zverev was lucky to win.
For this one, the real question is how much he has left in the tank. Kudla is a grinder and will challenge Otte’s movement in a way that Sonego didn’t. Sonego’s offense is so big that Otte often didn’t need to chase down a second ball, but Kudla is more likely to work the point and take Otte’s legs out from under him. The flipside of the equation is that Kudla won’t have a lot of looks in Otte’s service games. He was very good at saving break points against Sonego and as a serve and volleyer it may break the rhythm of Kudla. As fast as the courts are playing, I think Otte is a small favorite here. Otte in 4.
Pospisil vs Ivashka :
Vasek Pospisil and Fognini put on a great show. Idk why I feel like Fognini goes to the local rec center and beats kids at table tennis, but I do. Idk why I feel like Pospisil drives a unicycle, but I also do. Pospisil started off this match as he did the rest of his season, poorly. 3/5 has room for a player to play themselves into shape though, and that’s what happened here. Pospisil’s awkward yet aggressive style seems to really irritate Fognini, and they both had equal chances in the fifth but Pospisil seemed to have a bit more commitment.
Ivashka has somehow become one of the best producers on tour, and he had an extremely long first set with Sandgren but pulled away from there. I don’t want to say he’s a lock here, because Pospisil’s serve has dethroned a number of solid players, but Ivashka will be able to win baseline rallies and Pospisil makes enough errors that he needs to assume the servebot role in this one. I suspect he’ll win one of the first two sets, but that Ivashka will be able to find his backhand and expose his movement. Ivashka in 4-5.
Moutet vs Berretini :
There are no good first rounds in a major but Berretini had one of the tougher ones. In the midst of a ton of 5 setters and upsets, Berretini dismissed a very scary Jeremy Chardy. The fast courts had Chardy’s serve nearly unreturnable at times, and Chardy had a lead in both of the first two tiebreakers. Berretini’s career has been based on winning points in the key moments though, and although being clutch sounds like an intangible thing or a results-oriented thing, he really does have the ability to elevate his game without forcing shots. Moutet had a good draw here, playing Travaglia who has been struggling to find his best form. Against Berretini, he’ll have the same formula of moving his opponent and attacking the backhand but Berretini is way more dominant on serve than Travaglia and Moutet’s own serving game is not nearly as good as Chardy’s. Berretini may drop a set here since Moutet is lefty and will be able to attack his slice backhand, but Berretini should move on. Berretini in 4.
Zverev vs Ramos :
Querrey is a fun player to watch, but he doesn’t keep the ball in the court. His backhand goes long, and his forehand goes long. You can tell he’s just not playing enough tennis to really compete at the level Zverev brings. Ramos and Pouille had a 5-set match which was a great win for ARV considering it was hardcourt but was a must-win for Pouille. He hasn’t done much this year and I didn’t expect him to be that competitive here, so to falter after getting to the end is a tough result. Zverev will have to demonstrate patience against ARV, but there aren’t many ways that Ramos can hurt him at this point. Zverev is somewhere at this moment practicing his kissing in a mirror, but no amount of self-centered behavior will keep him from winning when he actually is the better player. His history of giving up when things don’t go his way seems to be fading, and while this may take a long time, he should win this in straights. Zverev in 3.
Sock vs Bublik :
Jack Sock is back! Despite walking gingerly and looking out of breath at times, Sock’s forehand was enough to dismiss Nishioka. Nishioka seemed to struggle with the pace of the court, and Sock was able to execute his inside out forehand for clean winners most of the time. Sock being off the court for so long may have helped him a little since players will be unfamiliar with his shot patterns, and he is a very tricky opponent. Bublik leads the league in tricks though, and he won his first set today in 16 minutes. 6-0. 16 minutes. Nothing was more Bublik than coming right back and losing the second set. Still yet, nothing was more Bublik than then ending the match in two more quick sets. Bublik’s serve was very effective today and makes him a decent favorite against Sock. I want to believe that Sock will perform here, but all of his wins will be brand-new territory in his return to the tour. The good news for him is that Bublik is prone to leveling battles, and Sock’s own offense is good enough to get to tiebreakers. I would guess these two will trade early sets, and despite his inconsistency Bublik will have a good shot to win. These are tough matches to call since from a wagering standpoint, I’d be fairly uncertain about backing either player in this spot. Both are flight risks, and both are less than 100% committed to matches when things begin to go poorly. Bublik in 4-5.
Monfils vs Johnson :
Monfils’ resurgence is very welcome in a time where some of our favorite veterans have disappeared. He’ll have an edge in serving in this matchup, and an edge in movement. He’ll also have the better backhand, and the better forehand. He has more tour experience, is ranked higher, and has greater than double the vertical leap of his opponent. But does he have a moustache? Wait, does he? I actually don’t know. I feel like he doesn’t but I don’t want to google it because I’m watching Tormo drive Muchova absolutely crazy with her defensive abilities. Okay I looked. It seems like he does have kind of a goatee thing going which kinda ruins what I was going for. Thanks Monfils. Anyway, Steve Johnson got extremely lucky to get by Marterer. I often struggle to give Johnson credit, but Marterer had the lead in the two tiebreakers he lost today and had makable shots to close out as well. It’s a learning experience though and this was his best performance on the biggest stage on tour. Johnson will make things close with Monfils since he’s a bit more regimented about his shot selection, but this is one where Monfils’ best level is a cut above. If Monfils were such a reliable baller though, we’d likely be talking about the big 4 instead of the big 3. He gets too passive at times, and gets outworked in the middle stages of matches. Johnson, like many other underdogs in this round, is capable of stealing a set and is willing to play stable enough to do so. Hanging around waiting to see if someone falters is not the best plan, but Monfils will win or lose this match himself. Given his recent solid play, I think he’ll win a close one, despite being relatively unreliable. Monfils in 4.
Sinner vs Svajda :
A season or two after his crushing loss (due to fatigue) against Paolo Lorenzi, Svajda returned. “This is still a kid” I said, watching the early games. “This is Cecchinato’s misses vs Cecchinato’s makes” I said, watching Marco hit elegant dropshots and lobs. “Cecchinato has a clear edge in power” I said, watching Svajda play defense from well behind the baseline. Zachary had improved several things though. One, his serve. He may be a cut behind the tour with his groundstroke power, but he has some really nice pop on his serve. Two, his speed. The kid is a kid, but he is very fast. These were the answers he needed, and Cecchinato is not the best on hardcourt, but it was a great win for Svajda. He gets a treat now in playing one of the other rising stars in tennis. Sinner looked great and served great in round one against Max Purcell, and he shouldn’t have too much trouble here. Svajda plays a somewhat straightforward game and it will feed into Sinner’s talents. Sinner also is likely to wind up much closer to the baseline than Svajda and it will allow him to create angles and earn errors. Sinner in 3.
Cressy vs Basilashvili :
Hmm. Maxime Cressy was well out of the match against PCB, but nobody told him. The 0-2 comeback feels real good, and there were a few today. Cressy is an exclusive serve-volley player, and these quick courts are a good place for it. His opponent in the next round will likely break a string or two if he gets too close to the net, as he swings as hard as anyone on tour. Basilashvili has had a very strange season, but he was lucky enough to get an injured Sebastian Korda in round one. This means we get a fresh tour level player with a ton of power against a qualifier who just played an emotionally training 5-setter. It gives a clear edge to Basil, although it may be slim in terms of scoreline since Cressy is a servebot. I’d expect a close match early with Basilashvili pulling away quickly if he wins the first set. Basilashvili in 3.
Musetti vs Opelka :
Good win for Musetti in round one, but he still doesn’t look entirely comfortable on hardcourt. Nava had bright points, but he also had chances to win, which makes Opelka a considerable favorite. These courts make Opelka’s serve absurdly good, and his ability to hit near unreturnable second serves as well means it’s going to take fatigue or a heroic effort to beat him. I don’t think Musetti’s one-hander is up to the task, since returning with a one-hander on Opelka’s kick serve is likely to leave Reilly able to move to net fairly comfortably. The -270 line for Opelka does seem a bit low to me, but Opelka is different from an Isner type in that he can still throw in a very poor service game. Will he? I’m not sure, but I also think he’s likely to hold at a strong enough clip that Musetti won’t have many chances. Opelka in 3.
Harris vs Escobedo :
I did not understand the opening line for Khachanov Harris and it made me wary of the upset. I took Harris in the first set when he went up a break, and holy magical beans was it a long and confusing sweat after that. Harris did a ton of defending in this match, and Khachanov was more than happy to supply the offense. As the match dragged on though, the errors came out. Khachanov had trouble finding length on his backhand, and Harris seemed to have an easier time holding serve. I would say that Khachanov played a bit better shot-wise in this match but Harris was more steady throughout. His speed around the court will make him a healthy favorite in this next match also.
Escobedo had some tense moments against Cuevas, but he was good from start to finish. I’m a bit surprised here to see him only +150 against Harris, since Harris just beat Khachanov who won the silver medal at the Olympics. What I’m seeing from lines this week though is a significant slant towards the American markets (players). The books, I suppose, are seeing a lot of hometown money flood in since tennis is on regular TV for once. There’s no way to be 100% unless I could actually get inside the boiler room of a sportsbook, but it makes some sense given the prices that have been offered thus far (Claire Liu at even odds with Hsieh is kinda laughable in hindsight; no disrespect to Liu, but she should have been around +200 in that match). Escobedo’s power may let him fare well against Harris’ passive baseline play, but it is a huge step up in competition from Cuevas, and I would expect Harris to continue serving well and to have a bit more consistency in the late stages. Harris in 4-5.
Carballes Baena vs Shapovalov :
Hehe. I’m not saying Tommy Paul did anything wrong, but RCB is a guy you need to beat if you’re going to stay on tour. It sets up an interesting matchup against Shapovalov, given the marathon they had at the French Open last year. The difference here is the court surface, and Shapovalov returned excellent in round one and will have a huge edge in comfort with the court. RCB doesn’t quit on anything, but he will be outgunned here. Shapovalov in 3.
Rublev vs Martinez :
These fast courts are very good for Rublev. He has good enough footwork to get off a big swing on every shot, and it’s pretty clear that big hitters are getting a huge bonus from these courts (Rune took a set off Novak Djokovic). This is a perfect match for him to test himself, since Martinez isn’t a huge offensive threat but is an excellent baseliner. If Rublev is ready to be a contender, this will end in three. Martinez went 5 with Duckworth, which is enough tennis to play him into shape, but too much to make him a real threat. Rublev in 3.
Tiafoe vs Pella :
Tiafoe was just good enough in his opening round, and Eubanks did his best but just doesn’t have the baseline shot tolerance to beat a top player. Stealing a set was a great sign for him, but I wouldn’t look too far into it as far as what to expect from Tiafoe in this round. This is a first round that Tiafoe would love, but Pella is in great form so this is tough. Pella had something like 21 aces by the third set, and despite Krajinovic being in a slump, he really seemed helpless to get returns in for large portions of this. Tiafoe’s forehand will be the biggest weapon on court, but where he was safe against Eubanks after dropping a set, he could be in trouble against Pella. In a second round full of dangerous “should win” situations, Tiafoe in this spot scares me. I want to keep fresh in my mind how poorly Pella has played this year, because vaulting him to “going to beat Tiafoe” after one match isn’t great, but I would expect Krajinovic to play a very close match with Tiafoe. Despite Tiafoe’s solid play and feeling comfortable at home, I would expect this one to go longer than fans are comfortable with. Pella in 5.
Bautista-Agut vs Ruusuvuori :
RBA was clinical in his dismissal of Nick Kyrgios. Nick played almost a whole game before he found something to blame for his potential loss. There is something very entertaining about watching a guy predictably implode, and even though focusing on something external often helps Kyrgios focus his energy, he wasn’t able to really get fired up. I credit this to RBA’s super composed demeanor. He didn’t blink, he didn’t complain, he didn’t engage with Nick nor the umpire. He went about his business, and he won. Kyrgios actually played pretty well in rallies, but RBA is just better at tennis. It’s a humbling thing to find players who are simply better than you and have been playing that level for longer. I’m a bit used to Kyrgios either withdrawing once he sees the loss coming, or winning. This was not a great result, and there is much talk of him dropping out of the top 100 soon, but I actually thought he was as mature as I’ve ever seen him, and learning to take losses is something that may trigger him to actually remain on tour. RBA did one key thing here which I thought was great; he sat on the T serve. The result was Nick’s normal automatic points were rallies he had to win, and despite some lengthy battles he did not really win more than 10 rallies in this match.
Ruusuvuori had a much different affair, playing the qualifier Majchrzak, whose name I think I’ve been spelling wrong (missing the h at times). They’re somewhat similar, but Ruus is further along in his career and he was dominant. This next match should see a ton of extended rallies, but RBA seems to have added impeccable serving to his repertoire this week and that should be a big key. I don’t think he can win this in straight sets as well as Ruusuvuori is playing, but in a season where RBA has looked mundane at best, Monday night was a bright point. RBA in 4.
Zapata-Miralles vs Auger-Alliassime :
Zapata-Miralles getting to the second round is pretty great for his career. It’s a big financial boost for a guy who’s mostly stuck on the challenger tour. FAA was in a giving mood also, trying to advance Donskoy to the second round but coming up short. Despite his power and serving, FAA was unable to really isolate the right strategy against Donskoy. Conversely, Donskoy played some great tennis. Donskoy has always been a tour level hitter, whose lateral movement is a bit too slow. Isolating the Donskoy backhand was FAA’s go-to, but when his feet are set Donskoy is excellent on this wing, so this was one FAA really could have lost. The level of FAA’s B game is good enough to win this one, and he will have less nerves after getting through that first round. FAA in 3.
Garin vs Laaksonen :
Garin and Gombos was a good chance for Gombos but Garin proved to be too solid from the baseline. Without big weapons or power it’s just really hard to break down Garin’s defenses. Luckily for our next hopeful, Henri Laaksonen has nothing but big serves and big power. He doesn’t play a variedgame, but these courts help his particular style. If Millman and Garin played, I’d expect Garin to be slightly better. It makes me suspect that Laaksonen, barring fatigue, may win this as well. Laaksonen in 5.
Gojowczyk vs Lajovic :
Benoit Paire played juuuuuust enough tennis to make his first round interesting, but Lajovic overwhelmed him for the three sets he won. While they were having a fairly one-sided contest, Peter Gojowczyk was tormenting Ugo Humbert. His power and serving (you’re going to get sick of me mentioning these things this week) are tour level, and his downfall is always errors. Gojo doesn’t move off the baseline, so Lajovic’s route to victory here is to keep the ball high and maintain good depth. It’s important to note that Humbert’s level was fine during his match with Gojo, but he was outplayed. This makes a win against Lajovic a real possibility. In these spots, I tend to side with the tour veteran. Lajovic has been here before, and despite Gojo having the tools to run away with some early breaks, Lajovic is likely to be less error-prone than Humbert when the match does get tight. Lajovic in 5.
Alcaraz vs Rinderknech :
Rinderknech arrived about two hours late to his match, going down two sets and seeming completely spent, but he somehow turned things around. When players have been fresh this week, they’ve been really equal in ability on serve even if one is a specialist. Kecmanovic was really in a good rhythm, but once the edge came off Rinderknech looked fairly dominant. A similar thing happened in the Taberner/Van De Zandschulp match. It’s a good win for Arthur, and gives him a fun contest against a very hot player. Carlos Alcaraz and Cam Norrie was expected to be one of the most fun contests of the day, but Alcaraz just put this match away. Norrie kept reflecting his power but Alcaraz was able to find shot after shot until he had won. When he served for the set, he was even better. It makes this a match I think will also end in three sets, although Rinderknech does have a much bigger serve than Norrie. If you want to count Rinderknech out of rallies, please remember that he hung with Sinner long enough to win a match. Despite these protests though, Alcaraz looks to be reaching a new level, and hit power was too fast for Norrie so it’ll be a problem for Rinderknech as well. Alcaraz in 3-4.
Mannarino vs Tsitsipas :
Tsitsipas and Murray put on such a great show, but Tsitsipas is the wolf, and Murray has always been a boy who cries. I’m splitting metaphors, but Tsitsipas has had tons of issues with receiving coaching during matches, and leaving the court for extended breaks. Lots of players do this, but they all catch flak for it, so it’s natural that he is also. WHO AMONG US CAN CLAIM WE HAVE NOT USED THE BATHROOM OR CHANGED OUTFITS! is what some people have offered to try to defend him. I don’t see why. Criticism is often wholly rejected with whataboutisms and non-sequiturs about other qualities, but the criticism is just about one event or one pattern. Tsitsipas is not 100% a douche, and he is not 100% a cheat. He is a healthy 20% douche, and a meager 5% cheat because his dad is a pompous ass (while coaching tennis).
At the same time, Murray is a young Kyrgios as far as nothing ever being his fault while he plays. He loses a rally and yells at his box. He blamed the first set loss on his wet shoes. The shoes were completely fine until he realized he was going to lose the set. He yelled at his box, as if he isn’t a grownup with autonomy who has played thousands of tennis matches. It’s regrettable, but it is, again, 2% of Murray. People are many many things, and people are many many things temporarily in temporary situations. If Tsitsipas’ father stops coaching him during matches, this goes away. He doesn’t have to issue an apology, he just has to do better. If he has to take a long time to change his kit, he can just say that. I forgot what my point is. Oh, when two children both want something, they’re going to misbehave. Forgive them because they are children, and accept them as adults once they show you behavior that indicates that’s who they are. There is so much debate about who someone is, but no one is anything permanently, beyond their own delusional attempt to cling to such.
Mannarino and Herbert had a marathon, but Tsitsipas will be able to dominate this matchup. It may take a long time since Mannarino plays a measured game and Tsitsipas is always looking to outlast his opponent, but I would expect this to go in straights. Tsitsipas in 3.
Ruud vs Van De Zandschulp :
Ruud really has a good spot here. BVDZ is a great server and has a slick baseline game to back it up, but he had to put in a ton of effort in his win over Taberner, including battling back from a break down in the final set, and from two sets down to love. He has to be feeling a bit of fatigue, and Ruud is fresh and had a very straightforward first round against Sugita. Ruud in 3.
Bagnis vs Trungelliti :
Bagnis was the surprise of the first round for me, rolling through Taro Daniel with ease. It sets up the easiest second round he’ll ever see at a hardcourt major, but Marco Trungelliti is no slouch. Davidovich Fokina has had injury woes, but he seemed fine for his first round match. Trungelliti has been great in qualifying and now he has added a first round victory which is huge for him making his way onto the tour. This becomes a must win for him now, because you don’t get Bagnis in the second round of the US Open more than once. There has to be some residual fatigue from the 5 setter with ADF, but Trungelliti has a bigger serve and is in a good rhythm. Bagnis’ backhand is a safe target, and I expect the qualifier to win in 4. Trungelliti in 4.
Nakashima vs Molcan :
This is a juicy matchup. Despite Isner serving well and having a decent summer, Nakashima was the better man in the tiebreakers. It sets up a curiously important match with Alex Molcan, who has been the hero of the challenger tour in recent months. Molcan had a tough opener with Cem Ilkel (who played his best at this event and has a bright future as well), but he pulled away as this match went on and was able to earn a spot in the second round. Oddsmakers have opened Nakashima at -333 for this one, and I strongly disagree. Molcan has been beating better players, and has had a better overall season, despite most of it being on the challenger tour. Nakashima is a supremely skillful baseliner, and has a bright future, but I don’t see how he will dismiss Molcan. Molcan being lefty makes it a wholly different matchup from Nakashima’s first round, and while he was able to hold serve fairly easily against Isner, he’ll have a much tougher time against a guy who’s a lockdown defender on clay and has the same kind of big forehand/backhand groundstrokes as Klizan. I don’t give the victory outright to Molcan, but this one should be close. Molcan in 5.
Schwartzman vs Anderson :
Interesting matchup. Nadal and Fed may be missing, but this tournament has some juicy stuff. Schwartzman was a notch better than Berankis throughout the first round, but Anderson had a really tough time. Jiri Vesely hasn’t been at his best this year, but he served extremely well, and honestly should have won. He was holding serve much easier than Anderson and there were a few amazing lunging volleys from Anderson towards the end to close the match out. On a fast hardcourt, you really think Anderson has his best shot to win, but Schwartzman has solved this sort of puzzle over and over. Schwartzman is often in the top 5 in return games won, and since Vesely was able to get to duece in a number of games, I expect Anderson to give up a handful of breaks here. On the flipside, Diego needs to be very careful about his service games as Anderson is one of the best frontrunners on tour. Should be close, but I expect Schwartzman to have a bit more in his legs. Schwartzman in 5.
Dimitrov vs Popyrin :
There is a strange mystery around Dimitrov matches. Despite being one of the best athletes on tour, he often struggles with injury. Despite being one of the top players for about a decade, he manages to lose to random names. Despite being a has-been, he manages to beat a guy like Federer on a major stage. The biggest obstacle he’ll have here is complacency. Dimitrov can defend very well, but Popyrin thrives with time. If you rush him, he makes more errors, and when he’s behind in the scoreline he tends to try to “cut the deficit with a single shot.” Dimitrov appears healthy, and that’s a big key for his chances here. He starts as the favorite, but it’s hard to know what to expect. Popyrin played well against Albot, so he feels like the more solid commodity at this point. The best Dimitrov can beat any Popyrin, but anything less than that is likely to end up in a fifth set. A season of injury withdrawals makes me worry. Popyrin in 5.
Giron vs Evans :
Giron was solid in dispatching Hoang, and Evans was similarly smooth in besting Thiago Monteiro. Despite Evans winning their previous contest 2-0, it feels like these two players are in slightly different forms now. I don’t particularly see where Giron will score a ton of points, but his own footspeed should be enough to deal with most of what Evans has to offer. Evans in 5.
Kohlschreiber vs Andujar-Alba :
His hair is made of mystical smoke. His racquet is made of poisonous caterpillars. He isn’t actually from the Amazon jungles but IT DOESN’T STOP ME FROM SAYING HE IS. Pablo Andujar is one of my favorite players. He’s incredibly steady, and doesn’t take a point off. Imagine a more free-flowing but slower RBA. His comeback against Kukushkin was a bit heartbreaking for Mikhail, but it sets up a fun contest against Kohlschreiber, who almost feels like a lucky loser. Up two sets to zero, Cilic began to struggle, and ultimately had to withdraw with an injury. Kohl played well to force that decision, and despite Andujar having a solid lead in the H2H, Kohlschreiber’s only win came in their only hardcourt meeting. It’s likely that where Kukushkin ran out of gas, Kohl’s classy baselining will be able to expose Andujar’s lack of weaponry. Kohl also served very well against Cilic, so he’s a somewhat decent favorite here. Kohlschreiber in 4.
Medvedev vs Koepfer :
Medvedev played really well against Gasquet, and Koepfer evaded the tricky Halys. Koepfer is a tricky player to beat, but Medvedev has too much defensive ability for him. Medvedev in 3.