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Tennis • Ricky’s Preview And Picks For Day 2 of the U.S. Open, Including Murray vs. Nishioka

By Ricky Dimon

First-round action at the U.S. Open wraps up on Tuesday, when the bottom half of the men’s draw takes the court. That includes Andy Murray, who is getting Arthur Ashe Stadium treatment for his match against Yoshihito Nishioka. Grigor Dimitrov, Tommy Paul, Karen Khachanov, and Jannik Sinner will also be a part of the proceedings.

Ricky takes a look at three of the most intriguing Day 2 matchups and makes his predictions.

Andy Murray vs. Yoshihito Nishioka

Murray is set for his first Grand Slam since the 2019 Australian Open, where he temporarily “retired” before returning later that season following hip surgery. It goes without saying that the three-time major champion is a question mark right now when it comes to a best-of-five situation. For the most part, though, his health has been good in brief tennis appearances. Murray is coming off an encouraging third-round performance at the Cincinnati Masters, beating Frances Tiafoe and Alexander Zverev in three sets before falling to eventual runner-up Milos Raonic.

This marks the first-ever meeting between Murray and Nishioka. The world No. 49 from Japan reached the third round of the 2020 Australian Open and finished runner-up in Delray Beach, so he was in fine form prior to the hiatus. But he did not play in New York last week; thus this is his first match in more than six months. That should give Murray an advantage, and the 33-year-old is playing well enough at the moment to capitalize.

Pick: Murray in 4

(14) Grigor Dimitrov vs. Tommy Paul

It will be a rematch of a 2020 Australian Open thriller when Dimitrov and Paul meet again on Tuesday. In the second round Down Under, Paul prevailed 6-4, 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-7(3), 7-6(3) for the best Grand Slam result of his young career. The 58th ranked American is a solid 9-6 on the main tour this season, but he lost to Ricardas Berankis 6-7(4), 6-4, 7-5 in his Cincinnati opener last week.

Dimitrov was a question mark to even play in the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center bubble, as he had the coronavirus this summer and did not look physically fit at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown earlier this month. Nonetheless, the 20th-ranked Bulgarian did well to win a match at the Masters 1000 event (beat Ugo Humbert 6-3, 6-4) but then fell to Marton Fucsovics. In what is likely to be another competitive contest, Paul would probably have the edge from a physical standpoint in the latter stages.

Pick: Paul in 5

Jannik Sinner vs. (11) Karen Khachanov

Khachanov and Sinner are also going head-to-head in what will be a contest with much bigger serving and much shorter points. It is another rough draw for Sinner in his second trip to Flushing Meadows, having lost to Stan Wawrinka right off the bat last season. The coronavirus hiatus did not come at a good time for the 19-year-old Italian, who was one of 2019’s breakout stars on tour. He returned at the Cincinnati Masters and suffered a bad loss to Salvatore Caruso in the first round of qualifying.

Khachanov’s first slam appearance of 2020 was a wild one, ending with two consecutive final-set tiebreakers. The 16th-ranked Russian outlasted Mikael Ymer in round two and then succumbed to Nick Kyrgios in perhaps the most entertaining match of this abbreviated year. Khachanov is coming off a third-round showing in “Cincinnati,” where he beat Alexander Bublik and Pablo Carreno Busta in straight sets and then lost to Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. Based on current form and experience at majors, Khachanov should have the edge.

Pick: Khachanov in 4

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.