We preview five of the most exciting matches coming your way from the thrid round of the Men's draw at the 2021 US Open.
2021 ATP Tour
Grand Slam Tennis
Men’s US Open Tennis
USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre
Selected 3rd Round Matches
Roberto Bautista Agut 87/100| Felix Auger-Aliassime 9/10
This could turn into a marathon slugfest between two excellent baseliners. Roberto Bautista Agut reached two hardcourt finals in the early parts of the season (in Montpellier and Doha). But his form since has been largely underwhelming. This week, however, he has looked like a man possessed. He thrashed Nick Kyrgios in a nasty first-round tie, losing just nine games (he remarkably out-served the Aussie with 14 aces to 12). Auger-Aliassime will be looking for another deep Grand Slam run after reaching the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. He looked nervous in his opener against Dontskoy but seemed to right the ship against Zapata Miralles. He will need to be more aggressive on return if he wishes to reach the 4th round this week.
Verdict: Bautista Agut to win at 87/100– Auger Aliassime still lacks something for me at these big occasions. He tends to play within himself and play too much percentage tennis (that’s why he is still yet to register his first ATP title).
Andrey Rublev 3/10 | Frances Tiafoe 49/20
Rublev monstered 67 winners in his 2nd round victory against Martinez, highlighting his suitability to this surface (he is a two-time US Open quarterfinalist). The Russian still hasn’t been able to translate his magnificent general tour form into elite Grand Slam success. He looked leggy entering the North American hardcourt season. But he arrived in New York off the back of a brilliant run to the final of the Western and Southern Open (he is now 6-1 in his past seven games). Tiafoe entered this year’s US Open with a disappointing 22-18 year-to-date record. He just trounced clay-court specialist Guido Pella in resounding fashion. But can he muster up the consistency to trouble the robotic brutality of Rublev?
Verdict: Rublev to win in straight sets at 27/20- I really can’t find any justification for an upset in this match. This will be the first meeting between these two and I think that Rublev will win comfortably. His relentless consistency makes him a nightmare opponent for Tiafoe.
Gael Monfils | Jannik Sinner -betting TBA
2016 US Open semi-finalist Gael Monfils has always been a fan favourite and never fails to draw the crowds. He created quite the fashion stir in his 2nd round match, with a pair of bright day-glow shorts wowing audiences. Luckily, the tennis matched his shorts and he powered into the 3rd round. The Frenchman has looked improved in recent weeks after a tough year. He narrowly lost to Isner and Rublev in Canada and Cincinnati respectively. Jannik Sinner is fast emerging as a true contender for future World Number One status. The Italian is fresh off a monumental ATP 500 victory in Washington. However, Sinner still has his struggles dominating Grand Slam matches (as evidenced by two hard-fought four set matches this week).
Verdict: Monfils to win– Even at the age of 35, Monfils won’t mind taking this match into the latter stages. His muscle memory should give him an edge against the inexperienced Sinner in the latter stages of this match.
Nikoloz Basilashvili 44/100 | Reily Opelka 7/4
As ever with Reily Opelka, it will be fascinating to see just how Basilashvili manages to counter the forthcoming service barrage. The enigmatic Georgian has become public enemy number one for the American faithful this week, seeing off both Korda and Cressy in his opening two matches (though Korda was forced to withdraw from their first-round match). Can he make it a hat-trick of American scalps? Opelka is a different animal entirely (a giraffe most likely). The huge-serving American has added substance to his belligerence this year, reaching the semi-finals in Rome and the final in Toronto.
Verdict: Opelka to win at 44/100- I think that Opelka’s humungous serve will still be the determining factor in this match. I just have the inkling that the Georgian’s solid defensive skills may still nab him one set.
Novak Djokovic | Kei Nishikori – betting TBA
Djokovic has started his quest for an iconic calendar Grand Slam in commanding fashion. There were a few signs of rustiness against teenager Holger Rune but he looked back to his best when dispatching of Griekspoor. The most trouble he faced came in the form of an unruly spectator in the 2nd set against Griekspoor. He heckled the Serb whilst preparing for an overhead. Perhaps that’s the most realistic way that Djokovic could be denied this week. Kei Nishikori is coming off of a typically arduous five-set match (these matches are exactly the sort of contests that have scuppered his career through injury). It will take a herculean effort for the Japanese to remain competitive throughout this match.
Verdict: Djokovic to win in straight sets– It was tempting to go for Djokovic in four. The Japanese has a decent enough record at Flushing Meadows. But a 17-2 head-to-head superiority for Djokovic is telling. Having said that, Nishikori did beat Djokovic in the 2014 semi-final on these very courts. But this is now and those shoulder issues concern me. Even in peak condition, Djokovic is really the superior version of Nishikori.