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Ricky’s Day 5 U.S. Open Tennis Preview and Picks, Including Keys vs. Kenin, Others Playing Goffin, Nishikori, Careno Busta

By Ricky Dimon

Third-round action begins at the U.S. Open on Friday, when an intriguing schedule on both men’s and women’s sides takes center stage. An all-American showdown between Madison Keys and Sofia Kenin is on the schedule, while Kei Nishikori may have a tough one on his hands against Alex de Minaur.

Ricky previews four of the best matchups and makes his predictions:

(10) Madison Keys vs. (20) Sofia Kenin

You have to like Keys’ chances at this U.S. Open–not just on Friday but also to go a long, long way. The ninth-ranked American captured the Cincinnati title earlier this month and nowhere is she better than she is in New York. Keys finished runner-up at the U.S. Open in 2017 and reached the semifinals last year. Based on her current form–Cincinnati plus two easy straight-set wins so far–she could be the last woman standing on championship weekend. Kenin is also playing well right now, but she lost to Keys 7-5, 6-4 in the Cincinnati semis. The 20-year-old does not have as much Grand Slam experience as he compatriot, so this may be an even tougher test than the one that was on her plate a few weeks ago in Cincy.

Pick: Keys in 3

(7) Kei Nishikori vs. Alex de Minaur

The ranking discrepancy is large, with Nishikori at No. 7 and de Minaur at 38th. But don’t let that fool you; this one will be an absolute battle. Nishikori is not at his very best right now, coming off immediate losses in both Montreal and Cincinnati. The Japanese star also needed four tight sets to defeat world No. 108 Bradley Klahn on Wednesday afternoon. De Minaur played his second-round match on Thursday due to the rainout, making it important for him to get off the court quickly and conserve energy. That is exactly what he did in a straight-set rout of Christian Garin. The 20-year-old Aussie won an event in Atlanta last month, so he is supremely confident on hard courts at the moment. De Minaur will give Nishikori everything he can handle–and more.

Pick: De Minaur in 5

(17) Nikoloz Basilashvili vs. (Q) Dominik Koepfer

Koepfer had won only two ATP-level matches in his entire career heading into this tournament. Since qualifying for the main draw, he has doubled that total by improbably reaching the third round. The former Tulane University standout benefited from Fabio Fognini’s ouster in round one, so he has not yet faced a seeded opponent. That will change on Friday, when he runs into fellow German Basilashvili. The world No. 18 delivered his best-ever Grand Slam performance last summer in New York City (fourth round), so he knows what he is doing on the big stage. Basilashvili also captured a significant title in Hamburg last month, giving him even more confidence. Koepfer has never been in this kind of situation, so it would be a tough ask for him to pull off an upset.

Pick: Basilashvili in 4

(15) David Goffin vs. Pablo Carreno Busta

Goffin dropped one set to Corentin Moutet in the first round, but he has otherwise been taking people to the absolute woodshed. The Belgian won his other three sets against Moutet 6-3, 6-4, 6-0 and then clobbered Gregoire Barrere 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday. Goffin is coming off a runner-up performance at a huge tournament in Cincinnati, so his confidence is sky-high these days. Carreno Busta is another guy who is rounding back into form following some minor physical problems, but he is not quite as close to returning to his glory days as Goffin.

Pick: Goffin in 4

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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