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Ricky’s picks for Day 3 of the U.S. Open, including Shelton vs. Thiem

Second-round competition at the U.S. Open gets underway on Wednesday, when Americans Tommy Paul and Ben Shelton continue their campaigns. They are in the Holger Rune section of the draw–although now it’s technically the Casper Ruud section with Rune having been ousted in round one. Thus a major opportunity has arrived for Paul, Shelton, and for really everyone else in the quarter.

Here are my previews and picks for two of the best matchups on Wednesday.

Dominic Thiem vs. Ben Shelton

Shelton and Thiem may be unseeded in New York, but this is without question Wednesday’s marquee matchup. One of the rising stars on tour, Shelton advanced to the Australian Open at the beginning of this season. The 20-year-old added another slam victory to his tally by beating Pedro Cachin in four sets on Monday.

Slam wins have been few and far between for Thiem dating back to his 2021 wrist injury. The 29-year-old finally got one in the U.S. Open first round and did no with ease, crushing Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. However, Bublik might as well have given Thiem a bye; Shelton won’t be so generous. With home-court advantage in front of the U.S. crowd and in relatively fast conditions, Shelton may have a slight edge in what will surely be a fun one.

Pick: Shelton in 5

(14) Tommy Paul vs. Roman Safiullin

Both Paul and Safiullin have already racked up success at the Grand Slam level in 2023. Paul made a run to the semifinals in Melbourne and he has been hot ever since. The 14th-ranked American upset Carlos Alcaraz en route to the Toronto semifinals and almost beat Alcaraz again in the Cincinnati third round.

Safiullin made a shocking appearance in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. The Russian didn’t do anything on hard courts prior to the U.S. Open, but he kicked off his fortnight with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 win over Marco Cecchinato. Of course, Paul is an exponentially tougher opponent. The 14th seed is red hot these days and should keep it rolling for a while in New York–perhaps even all the way to another slam semi.

Pick: Paul in 3

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