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Ricky’s Preview And Picks For Day 2 In Cincy Tennis • Tsitsipas, John Isner, Rublev • ATP Players

By Ricky Dimon

It will be a big day at the Western & Southern Open on Sunday, as the first round concludes while the second round begins. Stefanos Tsitsipas and David Goffin are the two top-eight seeds who will be in action. Andrey Rublev and Dan Evans are also part of the schedule.

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

Dan Evans vs. (10) Andrey Rublev

Even though it feels like the season was just getting started when the coronavirus pandemic halted tennis for five months, Rublev and Evans have already squared off twice in 2020. They will make it three times on Sunday. With both men in stellar form at the time, they split a pair of meetings in Adelaide and Dubai (Rublev won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 before Evans prevailed 6-2, 7-6(9)). They have also split a pair of Challenger Tour encounters, so the overall head-to-head series stands at 2-2.

For Rublev, especially, the 2020 campaign was shaping up to be an awesome one. The 14th-ranked Russian is sporting a 15-3 record with consecutive titles in Doha and Adelaide plus a fourth-round appearance at the Australian Open. Evans is 11-5 on the main tour and he also won the Battle of the Brits exhibition last month. This should be a great one, but Rublev’s superior firepower will likely be the difference on a quick court and he generally thrives during the American hard-court summer (the 2017 U.S. Open quarterfinalist upset Roger Federer en route to the Cincinnati quarters last year).

Pick: Rublev in 3

(PR) Kevin Anderson vs. (4) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Anderson was one of the bigger winners on Day 1 of main-draw competition, when he overcame Kyle Edmund 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3. The hiatus actually came at a good time for the 6’8” South African, who had been just 3-3 on the year and continuing to struggle with physical problems. Of course, he will have to do a lot more than beat Edmund in order to prove that he is close to returning to the form that once carried him to two Grand Slam finals.

Tsitsipas played in the first Ultimate Tennis Showdown and reached the final before losing to Matteo Berrettini in a sudden-death situation. Exhibitions obviously don’t mean a whole lot, but the Greek at least managed to make the final in a very strong field. Hey, it’s something! It’s more than most other players had during the five-month break. At this point in their respective careers, Tsitsipas is simply a more consistent and more reliable performer.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 2

(16) John Isner vs. Hubert Hurkacz

Isner and Hurkacz will be going head-to-head for the second time in their careers on Sunday. Their only previous showdown came last summer on the hard courts of Washington, where Isner cruised 6-4, 6-4. As that result indicates, this is the 6’10” American’s favorite time of year. He is a five-time champion in Atlanta, a former Cincinnati runner-up, and a former U.S. Open quarterfinalist. Isner will find himself on the new Grandstand for this match, and he has already played on it almost 10 times in its four-year history.

Hurkacz went a decent 6-3 in nine exhibition matches during the hiatus, although he was arguably the favorite in all nine). The 29th-ranked Pole never really got going in the early stages of this season, losing four of his last five matches dating back to the Aussie Open second round. In this battle between Cincinnati doubles partners (they dominated their opening match on Saturday), conditions should give Isner an edge.

Pick: Isner in 3

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

Editors note • We wish we were seeing ball kids with gloves on as well as proper towel holders. Both players randomly throw their towels in same receptacles ? Don’t miss linesman at all. And surprised more players aren’t watching matches. Yes it’s hot but still… Kim Clijsters was a spectator at Andy Murray versus Tiafoe. And we don’t see how players can play 3/5 sets after 175  days off. They aren’t up to it. (LJ).