The world’s top tennis stars are in New York for the final Grand Slam of the season, the 2013 US Open and 20 men’s first round matches are on the schedule for Monday at Flushing Meadows.
Roger Federer will be in action later tonight against Grega Zemlja, as he tries to prove that reports of his demise are premature. The Swiss is clearly in decline, but he’ll have too much for Zemlja, who hasn’t been in form of late.
Also in action is number four seed David Ferrer in arguably the most intriguing match of the day against junior star Nick Kyrgios. The Australian may well have enough quality to give Ferrer a decent match when this one begins at around 10pm UK time.
David Ferrer vs Nick Kyrgios
The Spaniard has been in awful form for some time now and hasn’t looked right since the French Open final earlier this summer. His two outings during the North American hard court swing thus far were woeful, with Ferrer looking seriously out of touch and outgunned in the quicker conditions. Straight sets losses to Alex Bogomolov Jr and Dmitry Tursunov don’t make good reading and he was fortunate to win against Ryan Harrison, which perhaps tells even more of a tale. Errors have been leaking from Ferrer’s racquet, which is totally out of character. Maybe he’s finally running out of gas at 31 years of age. Kyrgios is an ebullient character, who’s not afraid of the big stage and although he’s obviously raw, he took down Radek Stepanek in straight sets at the French Open. If Ferrer doesn’t show a big improvement on what we’ve seen from him so far this summer he may be made to work very hard here. I’ll take a chance on the Aussie kid here +2.5 sets at 2.65.
Rafael Nadal vs Ryan Harrison
Rafa kicks off his US Open campaign against American youngster Harrison, who continues to find himself with terrible draws in the first round of hard court majors. Harrison’s last three first rounds have seen him face Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin Del Potro and Andy Murray. He did take a set from the latter two, but I’d be stunned if Nadal came anywhere close to losing this, I think Ryan can at least keep it tight early on using his serve as his main weapon. Rafa has been in excellent form on the US hard court swing so far, but he does tend to start slowly in hard court slams and I’m happy to take the 2.30 about the first set going over 9.5 games here. Harrison took Rafa to a tie break in the opening set of their only previous match on hard and he can do something similar again tonight.
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Thomaz Bellucci
Some matches just stand out as potential wars of attrition and this looks like one such encounter, as the Spaniard meets the hit and miss Brazilian. I was quite tempted to back Bellucci here at odds-against, but I don’t need the stress of watching what is likely to be a long, drawn-out clash. Thomaz rarely does things the easy way and generally manages to contrive defeats from winning positions, while Bautista Agut is definitely a vulnerable favourite in these conditions. The 1.87 on this one going over 39.5 games looks good to me.
Back Kyrgios +2.5 sets to beat Ferrer at 2.65
Back over 9.5 games in set one of Nadal/Harrison at 2.30
Back over 39.5 games in Bautista-Agut/Bellucci at 1.87