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Ricky’s preview and picks for Wednesday in Cincinnati, including Nadal vs. Coric

Borna Coric takes on Rafael Nadal in Cincinnati Wednesday night.

By Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal will begin his week in Cincinnati when he takes the court against Borna Coric on Wednesday. Second-round action is also wrapping up with a showdown between Felix Auger-Aliassime and recent Atlanta champion Alex de Minaur.

Here are my previews and picks for the matchups.

(PR) Borna Coric vs. (2) Rafael Nadal

Because of another injury, this one an abdominal, Nadal has not played since the quarterfinals of Wimbledon. The 36-year-old Spaniard beat Taylor Fritz in a five-set thriller but then withdrew from his scheduled semifinal against Nick Kyrgios. It was no surprise that Nadal pulled out of the Montreal Masters, as well, since at this stage of his career he was never going to play back-to-back hard-court tournaments right before the U.S. Open.

As such, there should be little to no concern about Nadal’s physical state; he would not even play one event prior to a Grand Slam if he wasn’t 100 percent. That could be bad news for Coric, who will be facing Nadal for the fifth time on Wednesday night. Surprisingly, the head-to-head series is tied up at two wins apiece. However, the 152nd-ranked Croat has played sparingly in 2022 because of his own injury issues. He is just 5-8 for the season after defeating qualifier Lorenzo Musetti 7-6(2), 6-3 in round one. Anything other than a straight-set win for Nadal would be alarming.

Pick: Nadal in 2

Alex de Minaur in action.

(7) Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Alex de Minaur

Auger-Aliassime and De Minaur will be squaring off for the first time in their careers at the ATP level. They have met twice before at Challenger tournaments, with Auger-Aliassime winning 7-5, 6-3 on an indoor hard court in 2018 before De Minaur prevailed 3-6, 6-1, 6-2 on clay one year later.

This may be the toughest second-round match to call–it could also be one of the best–but an edge in current form goes to De Minaur. The 20th-ranked Aussie triumphed in Atlanta last month and beat Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov in Montreal before falling to a red-hot Nick Kyrgios. Auger-Aliassime is just 4-5 in his last nine matches dating back to Halle. Although the ninth-ranked Canadian reached the quarterfinals at home last week, his run ended with a disastrous 6-1, 6-2 loss to Casper Ruud. With Auger-Aliassime playing inconsistent tennis from the back of the court, De Minaur will likely get too many balls back in play.

Pick: De Minaur in 3

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