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Tennis News • Ricky’s First-Round Matches To Watch At The U.S. Open, Including Khachanov vs. Sinner and Venus vs. Muchova

By Ricky Dimon

The U.S. Open draws are out and play begins this coming Monday, so it’s time to dissect some of the first-round matchups. With almost every player rusty to some sort of degree following a five-month hiatus due to the coronavirus, upsets could come early and often in New York. Seeded players will have to be on a red alert right from the start.

Ricky takes a look at some of the best opening matchups on both the men’s and women’s sides.

Men’s

(5) Alexander Zverev vs. Kevin Anderson
 – One of these guys is a two-time Grand Slam finalist. And it isn’t the No. 7 player in the world. Anderson has made it to the final hurdle at both the U.S. Open and Wimbledon, but he is no longer at his peak due to various injuries. With what should be enough time off to recover from two matches at the Cincinnati Masters, Anderson has the potential to pull off an upset.

(7) David Goffin vs. Reilly Opelka – If Opelka is healthy, this could be the most intriguing matchup of the entire first round. It features a wonderful contrast in styles between the big-serving American and the counter-punching Belgian. But that is a big “if.” Opelka retired from his Cincinnati quarterfinal contest against Stefanos Tsitsipas due to a knee injury. 

(11) Karen Khachanov vs. Jannik Sinner
 – If you like huge forehands, this is the matchup for you. Both guys are young (albeit Sinner a lot younger) and they bludgeon forehands with reckless abandon. Can the Italian regain momentum that he had prior to the hiatus? An early loss at the Cincinnati Masters does not bode well, but he can heat up again at any moment.

(14) Grigor Dimitrov vs. Tommy Paul
 – This is a rematch of a second-round battle at this year’s Australian Open, won by Paul in five sets. Dimitrov dealt with a bad case of Covid-19 earlier this summer and was thought to possibly be withdrawing from both Cincinnati and the U.S. Open. But the Bulgarian is back, and he at least managed to advance one round last week.

Women’s

(14) Anett Kontaveit vs. Danielle Collins
 – Collins went all the way to the semifinals at the 2019 Australian Open. She is a fiery competitor who loves the big matches and the big moments. Not having fans isn’t ideal for the American, but if there is anyone who can fire herself without any help it’s Collins. Kontaveit played well this past week and will be a tough out.

(17) Angelique Kerber vs. Ajla Tomljanovic – Tomljanovic appeared to be in great form earlier this season before the stoppage. She also played some exhibition matches in Florida and continued to look good. Kerber has not been at her Grand Slam-winning best of late and she also didn’t play the Cincinnati event. Is an upset in the cards?

(20) Karolina Muchova vs. Venus Williams
 – As an unseeded player, Venus was always going to be at the mercy of the draw. Her opening-round match is winnable, but it is not going to be easy. Muchova made a run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals last summer, so she is not afraid of the big stage. Venus also won’t like the fact that there will be no crowd.

(31) Anastasija Sevastova vs. Coco Gauff
 – Will Gauff be helped or be hurt by the lack of fans? Nobody is getting more hyped by the crowd than Gauff these days, but at the same time there may feel like less pressure without any of the American faithful screaming their support at her between every point. Sevastova always plays well in New York, so this could be a tough one.

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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