U.S. Open R2 previews and predictions: Isner vs. Darcis, Raonic vs. Harrison

Fellow Americans John Isner and Ryan Harrison will be aiming for third-round spots in the U.S. Open when they take the court on Wednesday. Isner is a heavy favorite over Steve Darcis, while Harrison is a big underdog against Milos Raonic.

(20) John Isner vs. (Q) Steve Darcis

Deciding sets–and especially decisive final-set tiebreakers–have been Isner’s Achilles’ heel in 2016, but might things finally turn around for him at the U.S. Open? The disturbing trend of brutal losses ended, at least temporarily, for the 6’10” American during first-round action on Monday. Isner trailed by two sets to love and by 5-3 in the fifth before storming back to beat 18-year-old compatriot Frances Tiafoe 3-6, 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-2, 7-6(3) in three hours and 27 minutes. The world No. 21 had previously been 0-6 in final-set ‘breakers this season, and that does not even include a Wimbledon loss to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (19-17 in the fifth) and a trio of double-tiebreaker setbacks (against Steve Johnson in Washington, D.C., Nick Kyrgios in Atlanta, and Milos Raonic in Cincinnati).
Isner 1
When Isner has survived five-setters in the past, they have still proven to be his undoing later in slam events due to having sapped his energy. The good news in this case, however, is that the 20th seed did not struggle physically against Tiafoe and–perhaps just as importantly–Darcis is coming off a five-setter of his own, also from two sets down. Darcis, who has never faced Isner, needed four hours and 11 minutes to overcome Jordan Thompson 5-7, 3-6, 7-6(5), 6-4, 7-5. For the 106th-ranked Belgian, it marked just his second ATP-level win of the entire year. A four-hour affair on the heels of three qualifying matches could spell doom for a player who has been constantly plagued by injuries, so Isner should have an easier day at the office than he did against Tiafoe.

Pick: Isner in 3

(Q) Ryan Harrison vs. (5) Milos Raonic

Raonic and Harrison will be squaring off for the third time in their careers on Wednesday. The head-to-head series stands at 1-1, with Harrison having prevailed 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4 five years ago at the Indian Wells Masters before Raonic got the job done 7-6(4), 6-2 in the 2012 San Jose semifinals. Harrison’s up-and-down career started going backwards soon after his upset of Raonic, but he is showing signs of a reemergence. The 24-year-old American successfully qualified and advanced to the third round in both Washington, D.C. and Toronto earlier this summer. Harrison, who will be well inside the top 100 if he takes out Raonic, opened on Monday evening with a 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-3 defeat of Adrian Mannarino.

Another straightforward first-round affair saw Raonic beat Dustin Brown 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. The sixth-ranked Canadian is an awesome 43-11 for the season, which includes a title in Brisbane, a semifinal showing at the Australian Open, runner-up finishes at Queen’s Club and Wimbledon, and a recent semifinal performance in Cincinnati (he lost to Andy Murray on all four of the aforementioned occasions). As those results indicate, it generally takes one of the best players in the world to stop Raonic. Harrison is rounding into some impressive form, but the qualifier does not have the same kind of firepower as his heavily-favored opponent.

Pick: Raonic in 3

9 Comments on U.S. Open R2 previews and predictions: Isner vs. Darcis, Raonic vs. Harrison

  1. Raonic in four and Isner in four. Crazy how Darcis got here. Thompson was up 7-5 6-3 5-4 serving for the match and Darcis broke back and of course won in five. 7-5 in that fifth set too.

  2. Thats fair enough, dont see Darcis getting a set though, also dont think as many seeds/upsets will happen today too

  3. So the question seems to be whether Isner and Raonic will win their matches in 3 or 4 sets. I went with 3 sets for each, but know they could go 4. But if either guy loses against these particular opponents, a big upset.

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