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TennisBalls News • Ricky’s picks for Day 9 of the U.S. Open: Kyrgios vs. Khachanov and Ruud vs. Berrettini

Photo Credit via Instagram – @nkyrgiosfans

By Ricky Dimon

We are into the quarterfinals of the U.S. Open, which will begin on Tuesday in the top half of the draw before the bottom-half quarters are played on Wednesday. Nick Kyrgios will try to keep his run going in Flushing Meadows at the expense of Karen Khachanov, while Casper Ruud continues his quest for the No. 1 ranking against Matteo Berrettini.

Here are my previews and picks for the two matchups.

(23) Nick Kyrgios vs. (27) Karen Khachanov

A different kind of Kyrgios has been on display dating back to the start of Wimbledon, and so far nothing has changed in New York. The 27-year-old has powered his way into the quarterfinals in impressive fashion, highlighted by a four-set defeat of world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev on Sunday night. This has come on the heels of a runner-up performance at Wimbledon, a title in Washington, D.C., and a quarterfinal appearance in Montreal.
Kyrgios’ reward for his efforts so far in New York is a quarterfinal date with Khachanov on Tuesday. They have squared off twice before and both matches were wildly entertaining. Khachanov won 6-7(3), 7-6(4), 6-2 at the 2019 Cincinnati Masters (where Kyrgios had a complete meltdown following the second set) before the Aussie prevailed 6-2, 7-6(5), 6-7(6), 6-7(7), 7-6(8) at the 2020 Australian Open. With Khachanov also looking powerful in Flushing Meadows, another fun one should be in the cards. But given Kyrgios’ form and the fact that the Russian is coming off a five-setter against Pablo Carreno Busta, Kyrgios is the pick.

Pick: Kyrgios in 4

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

(13) Matteo Berrettini vs. (5) Casper Ruud

With Medvedev’s loss to Kyrgios, there is guaranteed to be a new No. 1 in the world next week. Ruud is among those who have a chance, along with Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz. The Norwegian likely has to win the title in order to do it (although there is a scenario in which he could become No. 1 by reaching the final), but for now he has to be focused solely on the quarterfinals. Ruud has gotten this far by beating Kyle Edmund in straight sets, Tim van Rijthoven in four, Tommy Paul in five, and Corentin Moutet in four.

Up next for Ruud is a sixth contest against Berrettini, who trails the head-to-head series 3-2. They faced each other this spring in the final of a clay-court tournament in Gstaad, where Ruud lifted the trophy following a 4-6, 7-6(4), 6-2 victory. However, Berrettini dominated their only previous hard-court encounter 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 at the 2020 U.S. Open. Will the surface be the difference again on Tuesday? Maybe not. Over the past two seasons Ruud has improved dramatically on hard courts, even reaching the Miami final earlier this year. Moreover, Berrettini has not been in peak form since missing Wimbledon because of Covid-19. This should be a great match, but over the course of five sets Ruud may be able to break down the Italian with his counter-punching and consistency.

Pick: Ruud in 5

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