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Tennis • Ricky’s Preview And Predictions For Day 3 At The Cincinnati Masters, Including Sascha Zverev vs. Andy Murray

By Ricky Dimon

It will be another jam-packed day at the Western & Southern Open on Monday. The first round will have concluded and only a few of the second-round matches will have been completed prior to Monday’s festivities. Novak Djokovic is kicking off his campaign as the top seed, while Andy Murray is back in action.

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

(5) Alexander Zverev vs. (WC) Andy Murray

Zverev and Murray will be facing each other for just the second time in their careers when they clash in round two of the Cincinnati Masters on Monday. Their only previous meeting came four years ago at the Australian Open, where Murray cruised 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. Zverev, of course, is a much different player now. The 23-year-old German is up to No. 7 in the world and has won three Masters 1000 titles (and a year-end championship, as well). Zverev was decent in exhibition events during the coronavirus hiatus, compiling a 3-3 record on the ill-fated Adria Tour and a 3-0 record at UTS.

Murray played in the Battle of the Brits last month and went 2-2, losing only in tiebreakers for the third set against both Kyle Edmund and Dan Evans. The 33-year-old Scot opened at this event on Saturday with a 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-1 victory over Frances Tiafoe that required two hours and 28 minutes. It was not a high-quality match and given the fact that Murray is always a question mark from a physical standpoint these days, it remains to be seen how he will recover. This is a winnable match for the three-time slam winner if Zverev serves poorly, but otherwise the edge goes to a more physically fit favorite.

Pick: Zverev in 3

(12) Denis Shapovalov vs. Jan-Lennard Struff

This matchup may not involve any top-10 players, but it could be the most intriguing of the entire second round. Shapovalov is one of the game’s brightest rising stars, while Struff has been in the best form of his life over the past 16 months or so. Both men played awesome tennis on Saturday, when Shapovalov soared past Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-3 and Struff dominated Alex de Minaur 6-2, 6-4.

Struff’s win over de Minaur is arguably more impressive, as Cilic has been struggling for more than a year now and Shapovalov was a heavy favorite in that one. This particular head-to-head matchup also favors the big-hitting German, who has won three of his four previous meetings with Shapovalov. In fact, Struff has won three in a row at Shapovalov’s expense–all in 2019. Don’t be surprised if another minor upset takes place.

Pick: Struff in 3

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (Q) Ricardas Berankis

Djokovic’s year has been a tumultuous one. Recent controversies include the coronavirus-plagued Adria Tour and anti-vaccination comments. As for his on-court exploits prior to the hiatus, the top-ranked Serb could have lost to Dominic Thiem in a five-set Australian Open final and should have lost to Gael Monfils in straight sets at the Dubai Duty Free Championships.

Up first for Djokovic on Monday is a second career contest against Berankis, who got blown out 6-1, 6-2, 6-2 in round one of the 2013 U.S. Open. The 72nd-ranked Lithuanian already has three matches under his belt this time around, however. After successfully qualifying for the Cincinnati main draw, Berankis battled to a 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 win over Tommy Paul on Saturday. Djokovic will almost certainly win this one, but he may not be overly dominant this week for various reasons and Berankis has plenty of confidence. This could be somewhat competitive.

Pick: Djokovic in 2 losing 8-10 games

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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