RICKY’S PICKS U.S. OPEN TENNIS • DAY 1 • NADAL VS. FERRER AND DIMITROV VS. WAWRINKA AND FRITZ VS. ZVEREV

Written by: on 26th August 2018
2018 US Open Tennis Championships
RICKY'S PICKS U.S. OPEN TENNIS • DAY 1 • NADAL VS. FERRER AND DIMITROV VS. WAWRINKA AND FRITZ VS. ZVEREV

epa06972646 Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal participates at the '2018 Arthur Ashe Kids Day' at the 2018 US Open Tennis Championships at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 25 August 2018. EPA-EFE/PETER FOLEY  |
Spanish tennis player Rafael Nadal participates at the ’2018 Arthur Ashe Kids Day’ at the 2018 US Open Tennis Championships at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, New York, USA, 25 August 2018.  EPA-EFE/PETER FOLEY

 

 

By Ricky Dimon

 

The season’s final major is here. U.S. Open festivities begin at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Monday, with a jam-packed schedule that includes Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer and Grigor Dimitrov vs. Stan Wawrinka.

 

Ricky previews four of Monday’s most intriguing matchups and makes his predictions.

 

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer

It will be an all-Spanish affair when Nadal Ferrer collide for the 31st time in their careers during first-round U.S. Open action on Monday night. This not the same kind of Nadal-Ferrer matchup as when they faced each other in eight title matches earlier in their careers. After all, has fallen off the pace at 36 years old and with a ranking of No. 146. The former world No. 3 is just 9-17 in 2018, including 2-9 in his last 11 matches. He has not beaten anyone ranked better than 80th since the Davis Cup quarterfinals in April and his last win over any top-30 fore has come more than a year ago at the Cincinnati Masters.

 

Nadal is dominating the head-to-head series 24-6, with half of his losses coming more than a decade ago. The two veterans have not faced each other since 2015, when the current world No. 1 survived three-setters in Monte-Carlo and on an indoor hard court at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Nadal is still soarting at 32 years old with recent titles at Roland Garros and the Cincinnati Masters plus complete ownership of the 2018 race to London.

Pick: Nadal in 3

 

Stan Wawrinka vs. (8) Grigor Dimitrov

One first-round major match apparently wasn’t enough for Dimitrov and Wawrinka, who also had to go head-to-head right away at Wimbledon earlier this summer. The Swiss prevailed 1-6, 7-6(3), 7-6(5), 6-4 and his comeback from knee issues has only taken off since then. He reached the Toronto third round and Cincinnati quarters, losing only to Nadal and Roger Federer.

 

Dimitrov has not been terrible in recent weeks, but he also hasn’t been great–certainly nowhere near the level that took him to titles at the Cincinnati Masters and at the Nitto ATP Finals in 2017. Wawrinka’s backhand will be the biggest weapon on the court in this one and it should carry him to a hard-fought win.

Pick: Wawrinka in 5

 

(28) Denis Shapovalov vs. (Q) Felix Auger-Aliassime

Even if you’re a fan of both teenagers and want to see each one go deep in the tournament, part of you had to hope this match would happen when you saw Auger-Aliassime qualify for the main draw and also realized that Shapovalov would play a qualifier in round one. And it has. Already marquee names (especially Shapovalov), the Canadian teenagers–and great friends–will make for what should be an incredible atmosphere on the Grandstand.

 

Although Shapovalov has even more experience than the one-year age difference (19 to 18) suggests, Auger-Aliassime has three matches under his belt in New York following a stellar qualifying run. Shapovalov is capable of winning this in less than five, but let’s be honest: it’s destined to go the distance.

Pick: Shapovalov in 5

 

Mischa Zverev vs. Taylor Fritz

Fritz is 0-1 lifetime on the main tour against the older Zverev brother (and for whatever it’s worth, he is a combined 0-3 against both brothers). But he is a decent 1-2 against Mischa overall, having also split a pair of hard-court Challenger contests in 2015 and 2016. The 20-year-old American has played hree straight events without losing in the first round, a stretch that includes a five-set loss to the younger Zverev in the Wimbledon second round.

 

This Zverev is an underwhelming 19-23 in 2018 and he has fourth-round points to defend in NYC. Even in last year’s U.S. Open run, the German flirted with disaster in five-setters against Thai-Son Kwiatkowski and Benoit Paire in the first two rounds. This is a nice opportunity for Fritzy.

Pick: Fritz in 5

 

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @TennGrand.

 

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