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Ricky’s U.S. Open Tennis Picks & Preview For Day 2 • Djokovic, Korda, And More

By Ricky Dimon

First-round action at the 2021 U.S. Open continues on Tuesday, when Novak Djokovic will begin his quest for the final piece of the calendar-year Grand Slam. Matteo Berrettini, Taylor Fritz, and Sebastian Korda are also on the schedule.

Ricky previews some of the marquee matchups and makes his picks.

(1) Novak Djokovic vs. (Q) Holger Rune

Djokovic may have some flashbacks to the Wimbledon first round on Tuesday. The top-ranked Serb faced Jack Draper, a talented teenager (19) who could be a future star. Rune is one year younger than Draper and comes with even more hype. The Dane was No. 1 in the world in juniors at one point and captured the 2019 French Open boys title. Two consecutive clay-court Challenger titles this summer have Rune up to a career-ranking of 145th. Making a nice transition to hard courts, he qualified for the U.S. Open main draw by beating Lukas Lacko, Mitchell Krueger, and Mats Moraing.

Having already triumphed at the Australian Open, the French Open, and Wimbledon, Djokovic is going for the first calendar-year slam on the men’s side since 1969 (Rod Laver). The 34-year-old has not played since losing to Alexander Zverev and Pablo Carreno Busta at the Olympics, but that is of no concern because he is well-rested and has made it clear through both his words and his results that he is focusing only on majors at this point. Djokovic took a moment to wake up at the All-England Club and dropped the first set to Draper before cruising in four; he won’t make the same mistake again versus Rune.

Pick: Djokovic in 3

Sebastian Korda vs. Nikoloz Basilashvili

Basilashvili and Korda will also be squaring off for the first time in their careers on Tuesday. After being a complete disaster in 2020 and the first two months of 2021, Basilashvili is finally in decent form. In fact, the 39th-ranked Georgian boasts a winning record this year (23-21). To say he remains inconsistent, however, would be a gross understatement. Over his last 17 tournaments, Basilashvili has lost his opening match more than half of the time (nine).

Korda has earned 23 of his 26 career main-tour match victories this season. The 21-year-old American is up to No. 45 in the world thanks in part to a title in Parma and a run to the Wimbledon fourth round (lost to Karen Khachanov 10-8 in the fifth). Korda has lost his opening contest only once in his last seven appearances. With what is sure to be a nice crowd behind him, Korda will likely be too consistent–especially off the backhand side–for Basilashvili’s erratic ball-bashing.

Pick: Korda in 4

Other matches

McDonald over Goffin in 3 – Goffin has been dealing with so many physical issues that you have to wonder if he is even going to end up playing. McDonald’s stellar form includes a runner-up performance in Washington, D.C.

Brooksby over Ymer in 4 – Ymer did well to reach the Winston-Salem final, but he was so bad in that match that you have to wonder if something is up physically. Brooksby is playing the best tennis of his career.

Fritz over De Minaur in 5 – In a matchup between two players struggling mightily for form, I’ll lean toward the one with the bigger offensive game who can hit himself out of trouble.

Ivashka over Sandgren in 3 – Ivashka just won Winston-Salem and he was completely dominant in his last four matches. Sandgren, on the other hand, has been terrible in 2021.

Berrettini over Chardy in 4 – Chardy may be able to serve his way to a set against Berrettini, who hasn’t played a ton of tennis since Wimbledon. But the gap in talent level is pretty wide.

Harris over Khachanov in 5 – One of the day’s upset specials. Khachanov is wildly inconsistent, so this is a very winnable match for an in-form Harris. The South African has lost his opening match in just four of his last 15 tournaments.

Ricky contributes to10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.