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Tennis News • Ricky’s Preview and Picks For Day 5 At The Western & Southern Open, Including Medvedev vs. Bautista Agut

We are already through to the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters, and they will take place on Wednesday. Novak Djokovic headlines the schedule, although the most enticing tussle of the day could be between Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut. Stefanos Tsitsipas, Reilly Opelka, and Jan-Lennard Struff are also part of the last eight.

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

(3) Daniil Medvedev vs. (8) Roberto Bautista Agut

Djokovic and Medvedev are on a collision course for rematch of last year’s Cincinnati semifinal showdown, won by the Russian on his way to the title. First the defending champion has to get past Bautista Agut, who leads the head-to-head series 1-0 after triumphing 6-3, 6-4 in the 2017 Chennai final. Of course, Medvedev is a much different player now. The 24-year-old is up to No. 5 in the world and he is arguably the second favorite behind Djokovic to win the U.S. Open. So far this week he has disposed of Marcos Giron and Aljaz Bedene in straight sets.

Bautista Agut is 11-3 this season, headlined by a 6-0 record at the ATP Cup that helped Spain secure a runner-up finish. The 12th-ranked Spaniard opened at this event with a straight-set defeat of Richard Gasquet before beating Karen Khachanov 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Tuesday. However, this will likely be a much tougher matchup for Bautista Agut. Both players can stay on the court all day long bunting the ball back and forth in ridiculous rallies, but Medvedev is capable of winning far more free points on serve and can finish points more effectively with his forehand.

Pick: Medvedev in 2

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. Jan-Lennard Struff

Djokovic and Struff will be going head-to-head for the fourth time in their careers when they battle for a semifinal spot at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday. All three of their previous encounters have gone Djokovic’s way, and he is 8-1 in total sets. They most recently faced each other at this year’s Australian Open, where the top-ranked Serb earned a 7-6(5), 6-2, 2-6, 6-1 victory.

The five-month coronavirus hiatus has apparently done nothing to halt either player’s momentum. Djokovic is 20-0 in 2020 following victories this week over Ricardas Berankis and Tennys Sandgren–and he looked much better against Sandgren on Tuesday than he did in his opening match. Struff, who has been playing the best tennis of his career for about 16 months now, punched his ticket to the quarters by taking out Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov, and David Goffin. As past history indicates, however, this is a terrible matchup for the 34th-ranked German–just as it is for almost everyone on tour. Even on a fast hard court, Struff’s offense will struggle to penetrate Djokovic’s defense.

Pick: Djokovic in 2

Reilly Opelka vs. (4) Stefanos Tsitsipas

Is there any better way to prepare for a meeting with Opelka than playing against John Isner? Certainly not! That is exactly what Tsitsipas did, beating Isner in a pair of tiebreakers during third-round action on Tuesday night. His reward is a first-ever matchup with perhaps the second-biggest server on tour in Opelka.

It has been an outstanding event for the 6’11” American, who booked his spot in the quarterfinals by beating Cameron Norrie, Diego Schwartzman, and Matteo Berrettini. The two most recent wins are especially impressive, but nonetheless Tsitsipas represents a steep step up in competition. Although the Greek never broke Isner’s serve, he handled it well when it mattered most in the tiebreakers and he will likely be too tough in the pressure moments against Opelka, as well.

Pick: Tsitsipas in 2

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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