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Ricky’s picks for Day 1 of the US Open Tennis including Kyrgios, Kokkinakis, and Thiem

Nick Kyrgios faces buddy and doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis in his US Open opener. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

By Ricky Dimon

The US Open gets underway on Monday and there are already a couple of blockbuster matchups on the schedule. Before fellow Aussies Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis square off in the night session, Pablo Carreno will go up against 2020 champion Dominic Thiem.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the best Day 1 matchups.

(23) Nick Kyrgios vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis

Along with Serena Williams, Kyrgios and Kokkinakis will headline the night session on Day 1 of the US Open. It is a showdown between good friends and 2022 Australian Open doubles champions, who will be going head-to-head for the first time in their careers on the main tour. They have faced each other twice on the Challenger circuit, with Kyrgios winning on each occasion; 2-6, 7-6(6), 6-1 at the 2013 Sacramento event and 6-1, 6-3 a year later on the clay courts of Savannah.

Since then, Kokkinakis has been unable to fulfill his potential due to all kinds of injuries. Kyrgios has mostly been unwilling to make the most of his talent, although injuries have also been a factor. The world No. 26 went on the best run of his career earlier this summer, however, reaching the Wimbledon final and triumphing in Washington, D.C. before advancing to the Montreal quarterfinals. Kyrgios understandably ran out of steam in Cincinnati, but a couple of weeks off and the simple prospect of playing at a Grand Slam should have the 27-year-old rejuvenated and motivated. Kokkinakis is also in the midst of his most successful season so this could be competitive, but Kyrgios is the obvious choice.

Pick: Kyrgios in 4

Pablo Carreno Busta reacts.

(12) Pablo Carreno Busta vs. (WC) Dominic Thiem

The US  Open has fostered the best memories in the careers of both Carreno Busta and Thiem. Carreno Busta is a two-time semifinalist, while Thiem lifted the trophy in 2020. One of them will be out in the first round this time. Of course, that would be no surprise at all for Thiem given his current condition. The 28-year-old Austrian missed 10 months with a wrist injury and his record since returning (Challengers and ATPs) is 10-12. Thiem has at least started to play better in recent weeks, but his only good wins have come on clay over Roberto Bautista Agut and Emil Ruusuvuori.

Carreno Busta, on the other hand, has plenty of momentum behind him heading into his most successful tournament. The 14th-ranked Spaniard just captured his first Masters 1000 title in Montreal, beating Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner, and Hubert Hurkacz along the way. This is one of those cases in which head-to-head history has to be thrown out the window (Thiem is dominating it 8-1). At present time this is a terrible matchup for the former world No. 3, who will have to play a ton of long rallies and doesn’t have the confidence or consistency to do so successfully. 

Pick: Carreno Busta in 4

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