Ricky’s picks for Day 3 at the Australian Open, including Federer vs. Rubin and Kyrgios vs. Seppi
By Ricky Dimon
The second round of the Australian Open gets underway on Wednesday, when Roger Federer will be back in action against American qualifier Noah Rubin. Nick Kyrgios, Stan Wawrinka, and Tomas Berdych are also among the contingent of stars taking the court. Ricky previews and predicts some of the most intriguing Day 3 matchups.
(Q) Noah Rubin vs. (17) Roger Federer
Federer defeated Jurgen Melzer 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday, a decent result for his first official match since Wimbledon last summer. Overall, the 35-year-old Swiss has four matches under his belt this season; he compiled a 2-1 record in singles at the Hopman Cup. Up next for the four-time Australian Open champion is a first-ever meeting with Rubin. The 20-year-old, whom Federer has admitted to know almost nothing about, earned his third career ATP-level victory–and second at the Aussie Open–by beating fellow American Bjorn Fratangelo 6-7(4), 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 6-2, 6-2 in round one. A five-setter in his legs and Federer on the other side of the net is not a good recipe for the underdog.
Pick: Federer in 3
Andreas Seppi vs. (14) Nick Kyrgios
These two met in the fourth round of the 2015 Aussie Open and it was one that won’t soon be forgotten. Just 19 years old at that time, Kyrgios recovered from two sets down to score an epic 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(5), 8-6 win. Unless the Aussie’s knee injury flares up again like it did at the Hopman Cup, there is no reason to think this one will be so complicated. He thoroughly thrashed Gastao Elias 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 on Monday and Seppi, despite a decent four-set victory over Paul-Henri Mathieu, is past his prime.
Pick: Kyrgios in 3
(4) Stan Wawrinka vs. Steve Johnson
Their only previous meeting came two years ago at the French Open, where Wawrinka rolled 6-4, 6-3, 6-2. A hard court should be far more advantageous for Johnson, who is coming off a semifinal showing in Auckland and an easy first-round defeat of Federico Delbonis. Wawrinka, on the other hand, needed five sets to get past Martin Klizan. Traditionally, though, the Swiss is more dominant than that Down Under. He reached the quarterfinals in 2011, won it in 2014, and advanced to the semis in 2015. He has lost prior to the fourth round only once in his last six appearances.
Pick: Wawrinka in 4
(10) Tomas Berdych vs. Ryan Harrison
Harrison was the victim of rough draw after rough draw at Grand Slams in the early stages of his career. But a rough draw this is not. The American hammered Nicolas Mahut in his first-rounder on Monday and now faces an opponent who is dangerously close to nose-diving out of the top 10. Harrison dropped their only previous contest, but it was via an encouraging 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4 scoreline last summer at the Rogers Cup. Expect something similar in this one, with the underdog putting up a commendable fight before Berdych’s experience makes the difference.
Pick: Berdych in 5
Karen Khachanov vs. (23) Jack Sock
Sock is off to an ideal start to 2017. He went 3-1 in singles at the Hopman Cup and then won his second career ATP title in Auckland. The 24-year-old had underwhelmed at majors until last summer’s U.S. Open, where he upset Marin Cilic before falling to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Interestingly, Sock’s road to the Australian Open quarters is the same–but in reverse order: Tsonga in round three and Cilic in round four. Of course, he first has to get past Khachanov. The 20-year-old Russian is a highly-touted up-and-comer who captured an ATP title last fall Chengdu. Huge baseline hitting is sure to be on display from both men in this one, but it’s Sock who has been here before.
Pick: Sock in 4
(19) John Isner vs. Mischa Zverev
This matchup is nowhere near as favorable for Isner as his 2-0 head-to-head series lead indicates. Their first encounter can be discounted because it came back in 2009. They just recently squared off at the Paris Masters, where Isner won 7-6(8), 6-4 on his way to the final. But Zverev had played a ton of tennis heading into that tournament and must have been fatigued. It was also on a relatively fast indoor hard court. This time around Isner will have to deal with oppressive heat, which he has never liked. The American has also never liked playing left-handers, his two victories ver Zverev notwithstanding.
Pick: Zverev in 4