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Tennis • Ricky’s Preview and Picks For Day 6 Of The U.S. Open, Including Thiem vs. Cilic

By Ricky Dimon

Labor Day Weekend has come. It has come without fans, but it has come nonetheless. An intriguing slate of Saturday matches will have to be enjoyed from afar…but it’s a whole lot better than nothing–which is what we got for five straight months earlier this year.

That Saturday schedule includes Dominic Thiem, Daniil Medvedev, Marin Cilic, Roberto Bautista Agut, Vasek Pospisil, and many more.

Ricky previews the action and makes his predictions.

(31) Marin Cilic vs. (2) Dominic Thiem

Thiem and Cilic will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they clash in round three of the U.S. Open on Saturday. Both of their previous encounters have gone Thiem’s way; 2-6, 7-6(4), 6-4 at the 2016 Brisbane event and 7-6(7), 6-4 at last summer’s Montreal Masters. This should be another good one, as a hard court is basically an even playing field for these two competitors. Thiem probably wouldn’t come close to losing even a set on clay, while Cilic would have to be considered the favorite on grass.

After losing right away at the Cincinnati Masters and struggling in his opening set against Jaume Munar on Tuesday, Thiem may be off to the races now. The second-seeded Austrian got a retirement from Munar after taking a two-set lead and then erased Sumit Nagal 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in round two. Cilic came back from two sets to love down against Denis Kudla before scraping past Norbert Gombos 6-3, 1-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 on Thursday. Neither one of those results is particularly encouraging, so the veteran Croat is a clear underdog in this one. Still, he is a former U.S. Open champion (2014) who remains effective on relatively quick hard courts. This won’t be entirely straightforward for Thiem.

Pick: Thiem in 4

(8) Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Vasek Pospisil

This section of the draw was thought to produce a third-round showdown between Bautista Agut (a Cincinnati semifinalist) and Milos Raonic (the Cincinnati runner-up). Instead, Raonic was stunned by Pospisil–his fellow Canadian–6-7(1), 6-3, 7-6(4), 6-3 during second-round action. Thus it will be Bautista Agut vs. Pospisil for the fourth time in their careers. The Spaniard is sweeping the head-to-head series 3-0 (6-1 in total sets), but they have not faced each other since 2015.

A resurgent Pospisil is playing the best tennis of his career, and he will have to again on Saturday because Bautista Agut is doing the same. The No. 8 seed is 14-4 in 2020, with victories this week over Tennys Sandgren and Miomor Kecmanovic. Bautista Agut’s returning ability and the fact that he can get ball after ball back in play will likely get the best of Pospisil’s big serving and net-charging tactics. The world No. 94’s serve can keep him competitive for a while, but Bautista Agut will have a clear edge as the match progress and Pospisil’s injury timeout for a side issue against Raonic is a minor cause for concern.

Pick: Bautista Agut in 4

Other matches:

(3) Daniil Medvedev vs. (WC) J.J. Wolf – The former Ohio State star has done extremely well to reach the third round…but his run will end in a hurry.

(21) Alex de Minaur vs. (11) Karen Khachanov – This could be the best match of the day. Khachanov’s firepower on a fast surface may make the small difference.

(6) Matteo Berrettini vs. (30) Casper Ruud – Berrettini hit the shot of the tournament on Thursday. He will hit way too many good shots for Ruud in this one.

Marton Fucsovics vs. Frances Tiafoe – Both guys are coming off five-set battles. Quite simply, whoever holds up the best physically will win.

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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