US Open Round 1

by Matt Porter
August 26th 2019, 9:58am

The US Open gets underway on Monday and we have some terrific first-round matches to look forward to as we start the week.

Tennys Sandgren v Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

We’ll start our previews with what looks like an exciting match as Tennys Sandgren takes on Jo Wilfried Tsonga.

Match Winner

The American is one of the most popular players on the tour and has the ability and energy to excite the crowd, he’ll likely be moved to a show court for this and will hope to put on a good performance.

He went into Cincinnati hoping for a long run but came down at the opening hurdle losing a terrible match to Ivo Karlovic after being well ahead in the deciding set tiebreaker.

Winston Salem has been better for him though and he had one of the biggest wins of his career when he defeated Andy Murray in straight sets and although it was only the second match of the Scot’s comeback it was impressive how often the American broke his serve.

Tennys Sandgren

After advancing in that he looked a bit out of his depth against Denis Shapovalov going down in straight sets but his opponent that night played the sort of match that would have beaten anybody except the elite group of players on the tour.

He has shocked before in a big tournament, last year he advanced to the last eight of the Australian Open and if he can repeat that form will do well here.

Jo Wilfried Tsonga is in the late stages of his career but he’s still a huge threat to anyone and possesses a big service and baseline game that often gets results on these courts.

He got to the third round at Wimbledon before running into an in-form Rafael Nadal and losing without much of a fight.

He hasn’t played since Montreal where he suffered a pretty poor lost to Jan Lennard Struff in straight sets and appears to have gone away since then to try and work on his game before turning up this week.

Slams haven’t been very fruitful for him at all this season and he comes here more in hope than expectation.

No head to head between the players but on paper, this looks like the sort of contest that could be decided by a couple of breakers, whoever serves better may well take it.

Our Pick

Tennys Sandgren to win the match pays out at +230 with Fanduel.

The young American player is still trying to reach his potential on the tour but he has already shown in his short career that he is capable of big things, he has reached the latter stages of a big tournament in Australia last year on similar courts to these.

Jo Wilfried Tsonga has had a fine career but looks way past his best now and the value bet here looks to be with Tennys Sandgren with big odds on offer for him to win the match.

Steve Johnson v Nick Kyrgios

One of the most interesting matches in the opening round of the US Open will be American Steve Johnson taking on the controversial Australian Nick Kyrgios.

Match Winner

As always a big crowd will be on hand as anything can happen when this player takes to the court, the action for the day gets underway at 11am Eastern.

Steve Johnson arrives here with some decent victories in recent weeks and looks to be back playing some of his best tennis.

He had a long run at the Winston Salem tournament last week before losing an extremely bizarre last four-match when he was in cruise control, having won the first set 6-1 he somehow then managed to lose the next 12 games in a row in what turned out to be quite an embarrassing loss. 

He was clearly suffering with fatigue though and not having to play on Saturday might actually now be a bonus for him.

The run was needed though as he missed the tournament in Cincinnati and went out in Vancouver at the opening stage.

He did win the Aptos Challenger earlier this month, defeating Dominic Koepfer in the final in straight sets.

What more can we say about Nick Kyrgios? He’s an enigma that divides the sport and whilst entertaining many feel now is the time for tennis to actually take strong action against the individual who is never out of the news.

He lost in the first round of the Canadian Open to Kyle Edmund and won only one match last week as he went down to Karen Khachanov in Cincinnati.

Nick Kyrgios Cincinnati

He left the court to smash two racquets in a bad-tempered match and the governing body had to act and he was fined $113,000 for five separate incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct.

The ATP says it is also considering additional action, which could result in further fines and even a suspension after this tournament has finished.

He is becoming more famous for his antics off the court than on it and if he isn’t on his best behaviour at Flushing Meadows serious sanctions will surely follow.

The American leads the head to head by 1-0 but that was over two years ago and the Australian retired in that match after losing the first set.

Both of these players have big first serves and the match-winner could come down to who makes the most of the few breakpoints that will be available, the tiebreak could also be crucial.

Our Pick

Steve Johnson to win the match pays out at +174 with Fanduel.

Nick Kyrgios is never the most reliable player to back on the tour and no one knows what shape his mental state will be in after his litany of fines at the Cincinnati tournament last week.

Steve Johnson is in pretty decent form at this point in time and if the Australian is below par in this match he won’t get away with it, take the American to win at very generous odds.

Frances Tiafoe v Ivo Karlovic

We continue our previews of the first-round matches at the US Open with another exciting contest at Flushing Meadows, it’s a battle of young and old as one of America’s hottest prospects, Francis Tiafoe takes on the big-serving Croatian Ivo Karlovic – the action gets underway at around 11am Eastern time.

Match Winner

Frances Tiafoe is finally starting to come of age with some excellent performances recently and there would be no better way to announce himself to a wider audience by having a run here over the next couple of weeks to the later stages of the tournament.

The young American has had a pretty good week at the ATP Winston Salem tournament as he continues to build his career.

Frances Tiafoe

Crucially he hasn’t exerted too much energy in the week before this and in Carolina he was the fortunate recipient of two retirements on his way to the last four.

He didn’t get his way in the semi-final match though as he lose to the big-serving Polish player Hubert Hurcakz, it was a big disappointment for him as he led by a set and a break before going to pieces for a short time in decider and that left him with far too much to do to recover.

We all know what we get with Ivo Karlovic, a huge serve and not much else but that can often be enough to see him through to the second weeks of slam tournaments, especially when the courts are playing quick.

There is no head to head between the players as they have never met but this will be an intriguing contest. A big serve against an extremely competent returner.

He has had a decent build-up to the tournament and has defeated a couple of stout professionals but it always feels like he often just doesn’t have enough to get over the line. Before that tournament, he had won his opener in Canada but was then forced to retire before his next match, so we do have lingering doubts over his fitness.

After winning as an underdog he often loses as the favourite and that happened in Cincinnati when he went down to Jan Lennard Struff in straight sets.

As always, the big Croat will be trying to take sets to the tie break where he specialises with his big serve, if he can do that he will cause problems for Tiafoe, the US player will be looking to win a very high percentage of points on the second serve.

Our Pick

Ivo Karlovic to win a set in the match pays out at +110 with Fanduel.

We fully expect Frances Tiafoe to win this but it’s always a difficult match when you play Ivo Karlovic as you won’t get many break points and the courts are rumoured to be quicker than usual this year.

This one could last a while and the best and safest bet might be for the Croat to win a set as he usually does.

Taylor Fritz v Feliciano Lopez

One of the brightest hopes in American tennis gets his US Open campaign gets underway on Monday as Taylor Fritz takes on the Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez.

Play starts at 11am Eastern, and this is a match that is well worth looking at with the buzz and excitement around the young player.

Match Winner

He got to the third round here last year and would like to go deeper this time around, he’s not a genuine contender to win at Flushing Meadows but if he can be there in the second week it could be extremely beneficial for his development.

He was the victim of a tough draw in Cincinnati as he drew David Goffin in the opener, he lost in a deciding set in a match that could easily have gone either way and the Belgian after that also reached the final of the tournament.

Taylor Fritz in Los Cabos

Form has been mixed before that as he lost in Canada to Hubert Hurcakz but reached the final in Los Cabos, defeating players of the quality of Fabio Fognini before going down to the Argentine Diego Schwartzmann.

Fritz has all the attributes to be a star but he does need to be better from the back of the court, increase his stamina and mentally prepare for the longest matches.

Arguably the biggest hope from the USA and any keen tennis fan who hasn’t seen him play should tune in to watch him.

Feliciano Lopez has had a long and fruitful career but this is surely the last time we’ll see him in New York as his struggles continue on the tennis court.

His fitness as well could be an issue here as he had to retire in against Hubert Hurcakz at Winston Salem, he had defeated Pablo Anjudar before that.

Recent form has been poor, in Cincinnati he was beaten by little known Serbian player MioMir Kecmanovic in the qualifying matches and he also went out in Canada earlier this month to John Millman of Australia, both players he would surely have beaten in the prime of his career.

The head to head between these two players is 1-0 in favour of the Spaniard but we can pay little attention to that result given it was on the grass at Wimbledon and over four years ago, both players are at a far different place now than they were back then.

A real contrast of a matchup, one player at the start of a hopeful career, the other winding down at the end of one.

Our Pick

Taylor Fritz to win the match 3-0 pays out at +120 with Fanduel.

This should be a fairly routine match for a player like Taylor Fritz these days, Feliciano Lopez is coming to the end of a great career but his recent form has been absolutely terrible, losing to players than he would have defeated fairly comfortably years ago.

The American is playing some good tennis at the minute and he should be able to win this match very easily, take him to win in straight sets.