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Tennis • Ricky’s Preview And Picks For Day 8 Of The U.S. Open, Including Thiem vs. Auger-Aliassime

By Ricky Dimon

It was a most unusual Sunday at the 2020 U.S. Open. What will Monday do for an encore?

There presumably can’t be as much off-court drama as there was throughout the first week of the tournament, but the on-court proceedings should be outstanding. The Labor Day schedule is highlighted by a showdown between Dominic Thiem and Felix Auger-Aliassime, while Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev are also in action.

Ricky makes his picks for all four men’s singles matches:

(15) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. (2) Dominic Thiem

The men’s singles title at the 2020 U.S. Open is suddenly completely up for grabs, and whoever wins this showdown between Thiem and Auger-Aliassime on Monday afternoon will be one of the top favorites. It has been an up-and-down stay in the bubble for Thiem, who lost his Cincinnati Masters opening match to Filip Krajinovic 6-2, 6-1 but has advanced at the U.S. Open with mostly routine victories over Jaume Munar, Sumit Nagal, and Marin Cilic.

This marks the first-ever meeting between Thiem and Auger-Aliassime, with the latter earning his place by erasing Corentin Moutet 6-1, 6-0, 6-4 on Saturday. However, the 21st-ranked Canadian almost didn’t make it out of the first round–outlasting Thiago Monteiro in a fourth-set tiebreaker after saving set points earlier in the fourth. His run also includes a 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 beatdown of Andy Murray. This is Auger-Aliassime’s first appearance in the second week of a major, whereas Thiem is a three-time Grand Slam finalist. The Austrian has become accustomed to this relatively fast surface with three matches under his belt and will use that to his advantage against a less experienced opponent.

Pick: Thiem in 4

Vasek Pospisil vs. (21) Alex de Minaur

de Minaur and Pospisil will be going head-to-head for the third time in their careers when they battle for a spot in the quarterfinals on Monday. The head-to-head series stands at 2-0 in favor of de Minaur, who prevailed 6-7(6), 6-2, 6-3 at the 2018 Washington, D.C. tournament and 6-4, 7-6(4) a few months later in Shanghai.

The 21-year-old Australian, who also reached this stage of the 2019 U.S. Open, has advance by taking out Andrej Martin, Richard Gasquet, and Karen Khachanov–the latter in five sets. Pospisil is also coming off a five-setter, having upset Roberto Bautista Agut on Saturday. The 94th-ranked Canadian preceded that result with wins at the expense of Philipp Kohlschreiber and Cincinnati runner-up Milos Raonic. Pospisil may be playing some of the best tennis of his career right now, but as past results suggest it has been tough for him to penetrate de Minaur’s defense. Moreover, the world No. 28 will have a better chance of recovering physically from a recent five-setter.

Pick: de Minaur in 5

Other picks:

(6) Matteo Berrettini vs. (10) Andrey Rublev – They also faced each other in the fourth round of last year’s U.S. Open; Rublev was the favorite, but Berrettini won. Now Berrettini is the favorite…but Rublev will win. The Russian is totally different player 12 months later–one of the best in the world, in fact. Rublev comes close to Berettini in the serve and forehand departments. Berrettini does not come close in the backhand and movement departments. Pick: Rublev in 4.

Frances Tiafoe vs. (3) Daniil Medvedev – Tiafoe took advantage of a fatigued Marton Fucsovics on Saturday. Yes, he played great; but playing great against Medvedev–especially under this kind of pressure–is a much different proposition. The Russian is now favored to win the U.S. Open with Djokovic out. Pick: Medvedev in 3.

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