- Fabio Fognini vs. Denis Shapovalov
Fabio Fognini looked sharp last week in Montreal when he faced Rafa Nadal in the quarterfinals ultimately losing 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. While he can be proud of how he played in the first set, in the second set he started to lose steam, while Rafa began to settle in. Fognini will look to draw upon his successful week in Canada and continue one of his most successful seasons to date.
He will be facing Canadian upstart, Denis Shapovalov, who fell in the second round last week against world #4, Dominic Thiem, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Perhaps feeling the pressure of the biggest tournament in his home country, Shapovalov will be looking to post a good result before the US Open in a few weeks.
This is Fognini match to lose. He seems to keep getting better with every match he plays this hard court season. Coming up just short of eventual champion Rafa Nadal last week in Montreal, he will be hoping that he can replicate the same form in Cincinnati this week. On the other side of the court, Denis Shapovalov will look to restart after a disappointing season overall and try to earn some ranking points to earn a seeding at this years US Open. While this should be an entertaining match, Fognini should prevail in two tight sets.
Fognini in two.
2. Andy Murray vs. Richard Gasquet
This match is one that many fans are looking forward too, as Andy Murray is making his singles comeback since his injury earlier this year in Australia. Murray currently sits at #325 in the current world rankings, and myself and so many others are hoping that he can get back into the top tier of tennis soon. He is hoping to get a few hard court matches in before this years US Open in a few weeks.
On the other side of the net will be another tennis veteran, Richard Gasquet, who has been on a comeback tour since Madrid earlier this year. While he has yet to make a final in 2019, he will be satisfied with his results this past week in Montreal, where he beat world #6 Kei Nishikori 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) in the second round before losing to Bautista Agut in the third round 7-5, 7-5.
While Andy Murray did have doubles success in an ATP 500 event in London earlier this year, many of us are wondering where his match fitness level is at after so many months off. Gasquet on the other hand is hoping for a win over such an accomplished player to build his confidence, as he has not had the results he would have liked post-injury. Given Murray’s long length of absence since last playing, I am hopeful that he is match ready and prepared to fight, thus giving him the edge over Gasquet. Murray will take this match in two tight sets.
Murray in two tight sets.
3. Reilly Opelka vs. Borna Coric
Reilly Opelka is having a great season compared to 2018. He took the title earlier this year in New York, which has helped his confidence and will be excited to be playing so close to home, as he grew up in nearby Michigan. He made the semi-finals in Atlanta a few weeks ago ultimately falling to eventual champion Alex De Minaur 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-3.
The 2014 ATP Newcomer of the Year, Borna Coric is eagerly searching for his first title of 2019. Coming off a disappointing performance in Montreal, where he lost to fellow Mannarino in the second round 6-2,6-1, he will be looking to post a big result before the US Open. Coric has nearly a thousand points to defend during the rest of the year and a big result in Cincinnati will take some pressure off for the US Open.
Opelka will be hoping that his big weapon, his serve, is ready to fight. Coric is rated #40 of all returners this season, while Opelka is averaging 21 aces a match, just behind John Isner. While this is a hard match to predict, one thing can be assured, a couple of set tiebreaks. In the end, however, Reilly Opelka will be looking to impress his hometown midwest crowd and take this in three tight sets.
Opelka in 3 close sets.
Honorable Mention: Stan Wawrinka vs. Grigor Dimitrov
Meeting for the fourth time in the last 12 months, these two are very familiar with each other’s game. Dimitrov will be looking for revenge as he lost to Wawrinka just last week in Montreal in the first round 6-4, 6-4. The former 2017 Cincinnati champion, Dimitrov, is looking for anything to grab onto, as he has seen is ranking decline this year. Wawrinka on the other hand is happy to be playing healthy again and continue to post good results that saw him make it to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros this year. In the end, Wawrinka will get another victory over Dimitrov in three competitive sets.
Wawrinka in three.