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Ricky’s Tennis Preview And Picks For The Western & Southern Open In New York City

By Ricky Dimon

Western & Southern Open
Where: Flushing, New York
Surface: Hard
Points: 1000
Prize money: $4,222,190
No. 1 seed: Novak Djokovic
Defending champion: Daniil Medvedev

Men’s tennis officially returns for the first time since late February with the Western & Southern Open, where the main draw begins on Saturday and runs through next Friday. 

Despite obvious health and travel concerns due to the coronavirus pandemic, a strong field is on hand for this Masters 1000 event that has relocated from Cincinnati to the site of the U.S. Open in New York. Rafael Nadal and some other players who would have been seeded are missing, but the draw is headlined by Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, and many more.

Now, what can we expect inside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center bubble?

Well, the unexpected would be one thing to expect. Although plenty of players have tried to remain sharp at various exhibition events around the world, this is still the first real tournament for any man in more than five months. Who knows how each one is going to respond?

Djokovic is the clear favorite on paper, of course, but his hiatus was plagued by controversy. While everyone is a physical question mark right now, the top-ranked Serb has some answering to do on the mental side of things as well. Medvedev, who has always played Djokovic tough, won this tournament last year and could take advantage in the top half of the bracket. Thiem, who played 28 exhibition matches during the hiatus, seems to have figured out his game on hard courts with two huge runner-up finishes in the past nine months (Nitto ATP Finals and Australian Open). He cannot be discounted from “Cincinnati” title contention.

First-round matchups to watch include Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili, Denis Shapovalov vs. Marin Cilic, Alex de Minaur vs. Jan-Lennard Struff, Borna Coric vs. Benoit Paire, Karen Khachanov vs. Alexander Bublik, John Isner vs. Hubert Hurkacz, Kyle Edmund vs. Kevin Anderson, Andy Murray vs. Frances Tiafoe, Milos Raonic vs. Sam Querrey, and Andrey Rublev vs. Dan Evans.

The Murray-Tiafoe winner will face Zverev in round two.

First-round upset alert: (Q) Aljaz Bedene over (13) Cristian Garin. Garin was actually in position to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals when the tour was halted, but that was due to his usual success on clay (titles in Cordoba and Rio de Janeiro). However, the Chilean has never been able to do much on any other surface. Bedene reached quarterfinals on the hard courts of Doha and Rotterdam and he already has two matches under his belt at the BJKNTC (qualifying wins over Denis Kudla and Dennis Novak). 

Quarterfinal picks: Novak Djokovic over Alex de Minaur, Daniil Medvedev over Karen Khachanov, John Isner over Matteo Berrettini, and Dominic Thiem over Andrey Rublev

Semifinal picks: Medevedev over Djokovic and Thiem over Isner

Final pick: Thiem over Medvedev

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.