America’s No.2 Jack Sock had a promising start to the hard court swing following an early exit at Wimbledon, but he failed to capitalise on the points available at the big Masters 1000 events in Montreal and Cincinnati. Two disappointing losses in back-to-back weeks means that he is looking for a special performance and a better showing at the US Open, where he faces a very good competitor in the first round in Australia’s Jordan Thompson.
Many will remember Thompson for his exploits at Queens in the buildup to Wimbledon, where he got his first win over a World No.1, beating Andy Murray in the first round. In that match, Thompson demonstrated that if his opponent is feeling a little bit off his game and his forehand is not as solid as usual, then he will take advantage, which he definitely did against Murray.
I definitely feel this has the potential to be one of the first upsets of the tournament. Thompson has a sneaky good serve and can hold his own with a forehand of his own. Thompson also beat Sock in the Davis Cup Quarter-Final, so he has already tasted victory against the higher-ranked Sock. The US Open could be the second win for the Australian.
Prediction: Thompson in five sets
Denis Shapovalov [Q] vs Daniil Medvedev H2H: First meeting
One of the more intriguing matches of the first round encounters sees Canadian star Denis Shapovalov go up against the tall, big-serving Russian, Daniil Medvedev. In recent years, it has become the norm for ATP players to make an impact on the main tour at a much later age, but Shapovalov is making big strides and considerable improvements and movements at the tender age of 18. His career moment to date came at the Rogers Cup, where he made the semi-final in just his fifth ATP level event. It is an extraordinary achievement for someone so young.
Medvedev is a good first test for Shapovalov. The Russian reminds me a lot of Marin Cilic, but moves extremely well for his height. He also has the sheer force to take the racquet out of his opponent’s hands because of the amount of power he can generate.
I think the former Wimbledon junior champion Shapovalov will get the win. It will be interesting to see how his one-handed backhand holds up in just his second ever Grand Slam match. We all know how well he can strike the forehand.
Prediction: Shapovalov in five sets
Christopher Eubanks vs Dudi Sela H2H: First meeting
Another fine American prospect will take to the court on Day 1 of the US Open. He may be ranked outside the World’s Top 300, but Christopher Eubanks has shown some good promising signs, especially in Atlanta, where he beat fellow Americans Taylor Fritz and Jared Donaldson.
He makes the most of his height and can serve bombs, but his major weakness is his over-reliance on getting his forehand into play. Often his reluctance to hit his weaker one-handed backhand actually puts him in a disadvantageous court position for the next shot.
He can win his first round match. Dudi Sela is a seasoned professional that likes to make his opponent feel uncomfortable with his funky game-style, but Eubanks should thrive under the American spotlight.
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