ATP Tour: US Open Ro128 Preview

Tennis Player hits ball

We preview selected round of 128 matches from the men's draw of the 2018 US Open. 

Frances Tiafoe 11/20 | Adrian Mannarino 14/10
20-year-old American Tiafoe has really been on the precipice of a major breakthrough this season. But it’s really been Stefanos Tsitsipas who has emerged from the burgeoning younger class. Tiafoe has yet to progress beyond the opening round of a US Open, but this may be his year. He reached the quarter-finals in New York before clinching the Delray Beach title. So he clearly has a preference for the American hardcourts. He reached the final 16 in Mmai, losing to last year’s US Open finalist Kevin Anderson in the process. He then reached the quarter-finals in Queens before a decent Round of 32 showing at Wimbledon. He has not really delivered on his hardcourt potential during this US Open Series. He did show some very encouraging signs in Canada. He beat Raonic before a titanic tussle with Grigor Dimitrov in the Round of 16.

Mannarino has had an interesting year that really shows how his game is massively affected by changes in surface. He started the year with a quarter-final showing in Sydney and a third Round appearance in Melbourne. He would then go on to reach the semi-finals of a fairly weak New York Open. But then his season really went into a state of freefall, losing six consecutive matches between Barcelona and the Rosmalen event. His low-key, chip and slice-based game then made a huge transition to grass. He would reach the quarter-finals of Queens before winning the Antalya Open. He would then lose to Federer in the final 16 of Wimbledon. His hardcourt season has been fairly poor, though a three-set loss to Djokovic in Cincinnati showed his more old-school approach can be successful on the harder surfaces.

Mannarino actually won their only encounter. This also happened to be on hardcourts, with Mannarino winning in straight sets in Washington in 2016. But realistically, Tiafoe has the power to potentially blow Mannarino out of the water. I think that Tiafoe is going to make his first ever second Round appearance at this year’s US Open- get on at 11/20.

Malek Jaziri 47/10 | Pablo Carreno Busta 1/8
34-year-old Tunisian journeyman Malek Jaziri is someone whose shot-making ability makes him hard to always to predict. But his potential- especially on the harder surfaces- was completely evident in an excellent outing on the Dubai hardcourts. He actually beat Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanos Tsitsipas in that event, highlighting his capacity to upset the odds. He would then go on to capture a Challenger title in Qujing before reaching the quarter-finals of the Grand Prix Hassan II Event. He then did well on clay, reaching the final 16 in Barcelona before losing the Istanbul Open Final. The grass-court season brought with it a noticeable dip in form prior to the American hardcourt season. A decent run in Cincinnati will give him some confidence as he aims to put hisgiant-killingg credentials to the test this week.

Pablo Carreno Busta’s season has thus far been the epitome of consistency. He has reached four quarter-finals this season to add to four semi-final showings. Last year’s US Open semi-finalist started the year with a decent Round of 16 showing at the Aussie Open. His beginning to the season was actually fairly routine, until a brilliant week in Miami once again underlined his ability on these American hardcourts. That was the start of three consecutive semi-final appearances. He only played Wimbledon during the grass-court season, where he disappointingly was eliminated in the opening round. Since then his form has started to reinvigorate ahead of this event. He reached the quarter-finals in Cincinnati before a semi-final last week at Winston-Salem. So things seem to be building momentum at the right time for Carreno Busta.

This will actually be the first meeting between these two, which may give Jaziri a chance of further enchanting his giant-killing status. Personally, I can’t see Carreno Busta losing this match. But it’s certainly within the realms of possibility that the enigmatic Jaziri may be able to pinch a set off the Spaniard. 24/10 for Carreno Busta to win 3 sets to 1 looks a fair price. 

Written by Damien Kayat for

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