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Ricky’s Picks For Day 6 Of The Australian Open Tennis, Including Nadal vs. Pablo Carreno Busta

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal will be back in action when third-round play at the Australian Open continues on Saturday. Nick Kyrgios, Karen Khachanov, David Goffin, and Andrey Rublev are also aiming for spots in the second week.

Ricky previews three of Saturday’s best matchups and makes his predictions.

(1) Rafael Nadal vs. (27) Pablo Carreno Busta

It would be an understatement to say that Carreno Busta much prefers having Nadal on the same side of the court as opposed to the opposite one. They are 8-1 together in doubles, while Nadal is dominating the singles head-to-head series 4-0. The current world No. 1 is 8-1 in total sets, but Carreno Busta’s one set came in their only previous hard-court encounter (Doha 2016).

Is there any hope for the world No. 30 from Spain this time? Probably not, but Nadal at least left the door briefly open for Federico Delbonis to steal a set in a 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-1 victory on Thursday night. Nadal preceded that result with a 6-2, 6-3, 6-0 beatdown of Hugo Dellien, while Carreno Busta has defeated both Jozef Kovalik and Peter Gojowyczk in four sets. Carreno Busta will make for some entertaining rallies, but this should be a straightforward affair for Nadal.

Pick: Nadal in 3

(11) David Goffin vs. (17) Andrey Rublev

Although he may still be lacking a signature win over one of the world’s best players, Rublev is without question the hottest player on tour heading into the third round of the Australian Open on Saturday. The Russian reeled off back-to-back titles in Doha and Adelaide, and so far in Melbourne he has dismissed Christopher O’Connell (four sets) and Yuichi Sugita (straight).

Next up for Rublev is a second career meeting with Goffin. Their only previous encounter came at the 2018 U.S. Open, where the current world No. 16 prevailed 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-3 to earn a spot in the quarterfinals at the expense of an injury-plagued opponent. Goffin has no such physical issues this time around, but blowing a two-set lead over Pierre-Hugues Herbert and getting pushed to five on Thursday night is cause for concern. Rublev’s superior firepower–and his confidence–will likely make the difference.

Pick: Rublev in 4

(23) Nick Kyrgios vs. (16) Karen Khachanov

Khachanov and Kyrgios will be squaring off for the second time in their careers. Their only previous meeting was an infamous one, and that is putting it mildly. It was the scene of arguably Kyrgios’ biggest-ever meltdown to date, and that is saying a lot. Beyond the Aussie’s shenanigans, the most importing thing for Khachanov is that he stayed composed and prevailed 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 in round two of the Cincinnati Masters last summer.

A better-behaved Kyrgios has been on top of his game so far at Melbourne Park, taking out Lorenzo Sonego in straight sets and Gilles Simon in four. He was not exactly dominant on either occasion, however. Khachanov has a new lease on life after outlasting Mikael Ymer in a fifth-set tiebreaker on Thursday. The 17th-ranked Russian struggled physically at the end, but that was really due to just one marathon point in the ‘breaker and he had previously looked fine throughout the four-hour and 34-minute struggle. This is another good opportunity for Khachanov against an opponent who is known to go off the rails whenever things aren’t easy for him.

Pick: Khachanov in 4

Editors Note: We say Krygios in 4 • And Rafa Nadal 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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