U.S. Open Day 3 expert picks

A two-team panel makes its picks for four men’s singles matches on the third day of action at the U.S. Open.

James Blake vs. (Q) Ivo Karlovic

Steen Kirby (Tennis East Coast) – Blake will call it a career after the U.S. Open and the streaky, aggressive American veteran has a tough ask to get out of the first round. He has a losing H2H record against Karlovic. The veteran qualifier has looked healthy and of course served well throughout the qualies, but his health can still be a wild card. Blake tends to struggle with big servers and though the crowd will be inspired and trying to push Blake forward, Karlovic may be too tough–especially in tiebreaks. Karlovic 7-6, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6.

Ricky Dimon – Does the J-Block still exist? Even if not, Blake will have even more crowd support than usual in New York since he is retiring from tennis after this tournament. The 33-year-old is 25-12 lifetime at the U.S. Open with two quarterfinal appearances and a whole host of memorable matches. It’s safe to say that he will be inspired to make another run. Karlovic is a tough first-round opponent and he is a stellar 6-3 in nine meetings against Blake. This really should not be that bad of a matchup, however, for the American. He plays go-for-broke tennis that should pay off with at least a few breaks every match–even against Karlovic. If Blake can take care of his serve, his farewell tour should get off to a good start. Blake 7-6, 6-7, 6-4, 7-6.

Lleyton Hewitt vs. (WC) Brian Baker

Steen – Hewitt has shown he still has plenty left in the tank for a good showing in a slam and he will be motivated to set up a likely meeting with Juan Martin Del Potro, an opponent he beat in their last meeting. With another player of his generation (Blake) calling it a career, Hewitt is part of a dwindling breed of players that formerly used to make deep runs at the U.S. Open. Baker, meanwhile, seems happy just to be back playing without injury, and the American comeback kid will try to do it again. He has been so-so in his return from his latest knee issue, as he played a Challenger and Cincinnati this summer, going 2-2. Still, he does not yet appear to be at the level of Hewitt and matchup-wise an opponent who will make him move and be aggressive is not the best thing for Baker. Hewitt 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

Ricky – Who’s gonna need a wheelchair first? Okay that’s mean, because these guys are absolute warriors. It’s amazing they are both still on tour given how much they’ve been though on the injury front. Hewitt is actually a decent 19-14 this season but he has not played since a first-round D.C. loss to Ryan Harrison. Baker broke out last summer but got injured again in Australia. A nice Cincinnati win over Denis Istomin–who beat Nicolas Almagro on Tuesday–suggests the American is at least close to 100 percent. Hewitt, however, has too much experience and probably has slightly too much left in the tank. Hewitt 6-3, 3-6, 6-4, 6-2.

David Goffin vs. Alexandr Dolgopolov

Steen – This match features a couple of woefully inconsistent and underwhelming players this year, but talented shot-makers they are. Goffin has actually been playing quite well this summer compared to the start of his year, though his ranking dropped low enough that he needed a few withdrawals to get into the main draw off the alternate list. Dolgopolov, meanwhile, has been atrocious all year but comes in off a semifinal in Winston-Salem. You literally never know what you are going to get with him, and if he happens to come out keeping the ball in the court, he has the talent to win this in straights. But that isn’t likely. Goffin 4-6, 6-4, 7-6, 6-2.

Ricky – This match may be the toughest of the entire first round to call. Both players are in the midst of disappointing years but apparently heating up in time for the last Grand Slam: Dolgopolov with a semifinal in Winston-Salem and Goffin with successful qualification in Montreal, Cincinnati (third round), and Winston-Salem. Dolgopolov is the more talented of the two, but Gilbert’s Syndrome and a generally wacky style of play make him unpredictable every time he takes the court. Goffin’s game is more consistent, but his results are similarly all over the place. If the Ukrainian is having a decent to good day, he should survive. But that’s a big “if.” Dolgopolov 3-6, 7-6, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Daniel Brands vs. (17) Kevin Anderson

Steen – Anderson made the final in Atlanta and is a dark horse pick for many this week given his good hard-court game, the solid year he has had, and his ever-present serve. Brands has not played any hard-court tournaments this summer and comes in cold, though he did show a decent enough hard-court game this past spring. This one could be close, but the form edge goes to the South African. Anderson 6-4, 7-6, 7-6.

Ricky – It’s scary to think of Anderson having to go up against Tomas Berdych again, this time in the U.S. Open fourth round. But it may happen, because he should take care of Brands and both Marcos Baghdatis and Stanislas Wawrinka are beatable after that. This a good matchup for Anderson, because he and Brands have similar, big-hitting styles but Anderson can do every single thing Brands can do and he can do all of it better. It’s the same reason why the South African can never beat Berdych. Anderson 6-3, 7-6, 6-4.

18 Comments on U.S. Open Day 3 expert picks

  1. When it comes to scheduling Murray has drawn the short straw yet again 🙁
    Normally he gets the early start times (which we all know he dislikes and which also means he invariably plays at the hottest time of the day). Now he gets a night match which could well go on till near midnight even if there are no rain delays.

    Isolated thunderstorms are forecast for today.

  2. Off topic: Has anyone else seen Marion Bartoli doing a Talking Heads stint with Leconte on Eurosport?

    She’s kitted out in a dress made from what looks like white curtain lace and which is so short it barely covers her knickers. Big mistake: she has thighs the size of tree trunks.

  3. Murray didn’t even get on the court until about 10:00 pm eastern time. He won the first se easily 6-2. Llodra was up a break 3-0, but Murray got the break back. I have to believe that Murray wants to make quick work of Llodra and get out of there.

    The rain played havoc with the schedule today. They cancelled the women’s matches to try to get the men’s matches in today. I don’t know why they can’t get the first round done in two days.

    I finally got to see the latter part of Delpo’s match with GGL. That was something else! Apparently GGL kept asking for the trainer over and over again and Delpo got so mad that he confronted him directly while the trainer was working on him. The conversation was, let’s say, animated! 🙂

    JMac was all over GGL for taking too many MTO’s and abusing the rule. I didn’t think that Delpo looked that good in this match, from what I saw of it. They were showing the Venus Williams/Zheng match. Delpo came up with some big forehands to get the break back in the fourth set. Then he finally managed to get the win in the tb. He was very happy to get this first match out of the way. He will have to play much better if he is to have a chance against Djoker.

    This has been one crazy day! I was on the phone with my sister who lives in Brooklyn. She said that the forecast is iffy for the next day or two.

  4. I don’t know what I was writing about Murray’ match. The way I wrote it made it seem like he had to break Llodra in the first set. I was talking about the second set where Murray was down 3-0 and then came back strong.

    Now 5-3 in the second set. Murray serving for the set.

  5. @ed
    Loved your graphic account of matches 🙂
    Are u a night owl? 😉 Andy’s match too late/early for me but early comments seem to suggest he’s looking good. On 5 live, Martina was very complimentary. Obviously Llodra wasn’t gonna test him, but…
    Am really liking this site with excellent write ups from the Rickster,Steen and all.

  6. @ NNY
    Sorry, sorry, sorry ..too early for me! That post should’ve been addressed to you not ed! What was I thinking of? And of course ignore comments about “night owl”! Of course, perfect time for you.

    • deucey,

      Yes, my sweet one! I had no problem watching the match. I know that they cancelled Serena’s match so that they could get Murray on the court after the Delpo/GGL match was finally over. They cancelled the women’s matches in order to get all the men’s matches in after the rain delays all day.

      I think Murray looked good. He came back from an early break as I said in that second set. I think that was really it for Llodra. He had no weapons to hurt Andy. He does make it entertaining, though! He put in some trick shots near the end that even made Andy laugh – after the match! Nice interview on court post-match with Pam Shriver. Andy looked relaxed and happy. Pam told him to watch out for Llodra pranks in the locker room.

      I think Andy looked a lot better and more focused than he did in Montreal or Cincy. I think Lendl has him primed and ready to go. I sensed that Andy would try to make this a short match and get off the court quickly. It was a long wait! They really needed to get Murray’s match in today no matter what.

      I also had the feeling that Rafa would get pushed back tomorrow. I see from the OOP on vb that Rafa will be the second night match! Ugh! It’s no problem for me, because it will still be early my time. But I don’t like it for Rafa. A few women’s matches pushed him back in the schedule. I find it hard to believe that they would put a Rafa/Silva match on in primetime. But today’s rain delays made it necessary.

      • Talking of Delpo-GGL. That was a revelation. Had no idea GGL could wack the ball so hard. lol. It was only delpo’s big match experience in the closing stages that got him through. You’re right. Must do better if he is to even meet Djoker, let alone beat him.

    • Come, come Deucy. Are you telling me you’re not prepared to stay up half the night to watch Andy!!!!!!

      I’m already reduced to a zombie and it’s only day 4 🙁

      Agree with NNY. Andy was impressive and looks like a man with a mission. Also he’s had a compete makeover and looked very smart in tomato-red gear! My mind get going back to the days of the ill-fitting crumpled tee-shirts two sizes too big (I swear he bought them in bulk on Stanley market), ghastly baggy shorts, cut his own hair twice a year and still sported bum fluff.

      • The tennis channel replayed the Delpo/GGL match last night. But honestly by that time I was just on overload. So I didn’t bother to see the replay. I wanted to watch other things on tv after all that tennis crammed into a few hours late in the day. Talk about sensory overload!

        I was very surprised to see GGL make the match competitive. But he was really playing some great defense and hitting his groundstrokes well. Delpo was not at his best, but hopefully this match will get him going. I thought if it went five sets, then it would be anyone’s to win. I know there was some bad blood because of all the MTO’s that GGL took in the match. JMac implied that he was simply cramping and pretended that he had a real injury. I was surprised to see Delpo going at it with him on the sidelines when he took another MTO. While the trainer was working on him, they were arguing in Spanish!

        I also agree with ed regarding Murray’s look. Beautiful red top with black shorts. Same colors as Djoker! Hmmm…

        But Andy’s outfits are so much better these days. Now I need to find out why Nike is putting Rafa in white and gray! He needs to be in bright colors.

  7. I saw all the late night matches. They switched to Blake/Karlovic sometime in the fourth set. Blake was originally up two sets in that match, but Karlovic won the next two sets. The fifth set went back and forth. First Karlovic got the break and was up 4-2, but then Blake got the break back and evened it up. It ended in a tb where Karlovic pretty much took over.

    That was an ugly way to end a career. Blake teared up as the crowd who stayed late to watch, gave him an ovation.

    I didn’t see Hewitt’s match. I know that Sloane Stephens had to play on center court after Murray. But I didn’t bother to watch. There was so much tennis crammed into the late hours of the day. Crazy!

  8. I watched Blake in the first two and part of the 3rd set but left to concentrate on Andy. A sad note to end on but he has been struggling for a long time: I’m just amazed he has lasted this long.

    Saw snatches of the Hewitt-Baker match including the final set. His celebration on winning was classic Lleyton stuff. Talk about a testimony to what orthopaedic sports surgery can achieve! Between them they must hold the record for recovering from injuries.

  9. OMG ed.,.. made of much sterner stuff than me. 😉
    Thanx so much NNY for lovely write up of Andy’s performance. 🙂

  10. So Ricky, why are you bragging that you are not going to Rafa’s matches? I strongly suggest you make time to watch Rafa, give yourself an idea of what’s in store for your tournament pick……………..

    • not bragging, just telling you.

      I will be at Isner-Monfils during the night session. Way more compelling match.

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