I’m going to go out on a limb here and guess that I’m not the only one who feels like it’s been at least a decade since Novak Djokovic outlasted Dominic Thiem in Melbourne in the first Grand Slam final of 2020 at the Australian Open.
The longest seven months of our lives has finally led us to our second Slam of this bizarre year.
This is quite a unique situation for us all, but let’s see if we can still salvage something positive out of this year with some winners on Day 2 of the US Open.
My first play on Tuesday is Iga Swiatek to get the better of Veronika Kudermetova in the women’s draw.
The talented Polish teenager advanced into the fourth round at the Australian Open, only to be defeated in three sets by Anett Kontaveit. There is no shame in that, and I like her chances of advancing that far again in this tournament, if not further!
She was beaten in Round 1 of the S&W Open last week, but I can forgive that and she will be far more focused now that Slam season is upon us at last. Kudermatova was defeated easily by Elise Mertens last week and she has never advanced past the first round of the US Open in three tries.
I don’t see that changing this year and I reckon Swiatek is too good for the Russian here. If you’re feeling brave then I wouldn’t put anyone off backing Swiatek to win 2-0, but I’ll just tip her to get the W in Round 1.
Looking at the men’s side of things, I really like the big Finnish youngster Emil Ruusuvuori. I also fancy him to advance into the next round at the expense of Aljaz Bedene.
My selection played Matteo Berrettini to a final set last week in Cincinnati (lost 7-5) and doesn’t seem to have much fear of playing established top players in general, having defeated the number two seed for this tournament Dominic Thiem around this time last year in straight sets in the Davis Cup.
He’s been dominating Challengers and I believe he beats Bedene here.
My final suggestion is Guido Pella to emerge victorious in his encounter with JJ Wolf. Wolf possesses big groundstrokes – particularly on the forehand – and a thundering serve.
He also would like this surface more than Pella probably would, and indeed, these qualities are what make him the favourite against the Argentine. However, I just can’t get away from the fact that I reckon Pella is simply a level above the young American.
Add that to the probability that Pella being a lefty could cause Wolf plenty of problems, and I can quite easily see a first round upset on the cards.
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