New York R2 previews and predictions: Harrison vs. Karlovic, Sela vs. Tiafoe

Ryan Harrison will be back on the court following a contentious affair with Donald Young when he goes up against Ivo Karlovic on Thursday in New York. Dudi Sela and Frances Tiafoe are also aiming for a place in the quarterfinals of this inaugural event.

(6) Ryan Harrison vs. Ivo Karlovic

Harrison’s virtual title defense (he triumphed this same week last year in Memphis before that tournament sold its rights to New York) got off to a victorious but also controversial start on Monday. The 44th-ranked American battled past countryman Donald Young 6-3, 7-6(4), but not before a heated exchange between the two players that Young later alleged to include some racially-charged comments made by Harrison. Whatever the case (Harrison has denied anything racial in nature), the No. 6 seed is through to the second round to maintain his fine form this season. He finished runner-up in Sydney and reached the last 32 at the Australian Open (lost to eventual runner-up Marin Cilic), so his record stands at an impressive 7-2.

Up next for Harrison on Thursday is a second career meeting with Karlovic, who lost their only previous encounter 4-6, 7-6(0), 7-6(4) on the hard courts of Acapulco in 2015. Three years later, the 6’11” Croat is still plugging away at 38. Physical problems have been an issue for Karlovic, but he still finds himself inside the top 100 at No. 89 in the world. He is a decent 4-2 in 2018 with a third-round performance Down Under, where he played a pair of five-set marathons (beat Yuichi Sugita, lost to Andreas Seppi). Typical Karlovic matches were also on display last week in Quito, where he defeated Ernesto Escobedo in a third-set tiebreaker and then fell to Corentin Moutet in a third-set ‘breaker. Harrison has always done well at home on American hard courts and he should be able to get enough returns in play to eventually break down Karlovic.

Pick: Harrison in 3

Frances Tiafoe vs. Dudi Sela

Struggling to make the transition from the Challenger circuit to the main tour, Tiafoe is 10-31 lifetime at the ATP level. A lot of that can be chalked up to bad draws for the 20-year-old American, but he benefited from a favorable one against an opponent who was playing his first career ATP match on Monday. Tiafoe faced 18-year-old countryman and Australian Open junior champion Sebastian Korda, who provided a tough test but eventually succumbed 4-6, 6-4, 6-2. The world No. 98 is now 1-2 this season following first-round losses in Brisbane (Matthew Ebden) and Melbourne (Juan Martin Del Potro) and he is also just 1-2 on the Challenger Tour.

Sela booked his spot in this first-ever showdown between the two competitors with a 6-4, 6-4 defeat of No. 8 seed Nikoloz Basilashvili on Monday. The 100th-ranked Israeli had previously been 0-2 at the ATP level in 2018, with final-set losses to Fernando Verdasco (Doha) and Harrison (Australian Open). Sela generally fares well on somewhat fast surfaces, as he can use opponents’ pace against them without having to generate his own–a department in which he struggles. Tiafoe’s power game and relative one-dimensionality at this point in his young career should play into Sela’s hands.

Pick: Sela in 3

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