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Ricky’s Cincinnati Picks For Third-Round • Previews • Federer vs. Mayer • Djokovic vs. Dimitrov

Denis Shapovalov of Canada in action against Robin Haase of the Netherlands during round three of the Rogers Cup men’s tennis tournament in Toronto, Canada, 09 August 2018. EPA-EFE/WARREN TODA



By Ricky Dimon


The third-round schedule at the Western & Southern Open is not yet full, as Juan Martin Del Potro vs. Hyeon Chung got rained out on Wednesday night. But the rest of the matchups are set, including those that involve Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. Federer is facing Leonardo Mayer, while Djokovic is going up against Grigor Dimitrov.


Ricky previews three of the matchups and makes his predictions.


Leonardo Mayer vs. (2) Roger Federer

Federer did not bother playing last week in Toronto. The 20-time major champion probably figured he would get more than enough match practice for the U.S. Open this week in Cincinnati. It looks like he will be right. Federer, who is 43-8 lifetime at this event with seven titles, kicked things off with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Peter Gojowyczk on Tuesday. The 37-year-old Swiss is now 30-4 for the year, which includes titles at the Australian Open, in Rotterdam, and in Stuttgart.

Up next for Federer on Thursday is a third career meeting with Mayer, who trails the head-to-head series 2-0. The 31-year-old came amazingly close to beating Federer at the 2014 Shanghai Masters 1000, but he blew five match points and eventually lost 7-5, 3-6, 7-6(7). Mayer got blown out 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 at the 2015 U.S. Open. The 50th-ranked Argentine earned another shot at the world No. 2 by defeating Michael Mmoh in three sets and Lucas Pouille in straights, improving to 21-18 for the season. There is no reason to think he will pull off something special in this one against a well-rested Federer who obviously feels comfortable in ‘Nati.

Pick: Federer in 2


(10) Novak Djokovic vs. (5) Grigor Dimitrov

Djokovic and Dimitrov will be facing each other for the ninth time in their careers. The head-to-head series stands at a dominant 7-1 in favor of Djokovic, who is a perfect 4-0 against Dimitrov on hard courts, 8-1 in total sets during those matches, and has won five in a row overall at the Bulgarian’s expense dating back to Roland Garros in 2013. They most recently squared off earlier this summer at Queen’s Club, where the Serb coasted 6-4, 6-1.

After placing runner-up at Queen’s Club, Djokovic took his comeback to new heights in the form of his fourth Wimbledon title. The Serb endured a minor step back with an early Toronto setback against Stefanos Tsitsipas, but so far in Cincinnati he has ousted Steve Johnson and Adrian Mannarino. Dimitrov, who is the defending champion in Cincinnati, followed up a first-round bye with a 7-6(5), 7-5 defeat of Mischa Zverev on Wednesday. Still, the fifth seed is a meager 22-14 this year and his inconsistency will likely cost him against an opponent whose combination of defense and offense is just about as good as it gets.

Pick: Djokovic in 2


Milos Raonic vs. Denis Shapovalov

This is an all-unseeded affair, but it is not an unexpected one based on Rafael Nadal’s absence from the top of the bracket. Raonic ran into lucky loser Malek Jaziri instead of Nadal in the second round and prevailed 6-3, 7-5, setting up a all-Canadian contest against Shapovalov. The 27-year-old preceded that victory by getting the best of Dusan Lajovic 6-3, 6-3, helping him improve to an abbreviated 23-9 for what has been another injury-plagued year.

Shapovalov won their only previous meeting 6-4, 6-4 earlier this season on the red clay of Madrid. The 19-year-old has not done anything overly spectacular like he did at this time last year, but consistent results are allowing him to defend plenty of his points and should have him seeded for the U.S. Open. Shapovalov reached the third round in Washington, D.C. and at the Rogers Cup and he has done the same in Cincinnati with victories over Frances Tiafoe and Kyle Edmund. The pressure is once again on Raonic in this matchup against his much younger countryman, and Shapovalov’s current form is slightly superior.

Pick: Shapovalov in 3


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

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