After correctly picking 19 of 21 firs round men’s matches, the going gets tougher in the Round of 64
Second Round - Men
Novak Djokovic over Jo-Willie Tsonga
It was great to see that Tsonga is back after injuries, a rehab, and a layoff. He looked awfully good beating Klizan in straight sets in Round 1, but frankly, Djokovic is just the better player. Tsonga might take a set but The Joker will move on.
Denis Shapovalov over Taro Daniel
Shapovalov, a rising Canadian star, took out the veteran Pablo Andujar in the first round with little trouble. He will roll over Daniel, a lucky winner in Round 1 when hometown favorite Kokkinakis retired from injury while leading their first round match.
David Goffin over Marius Copil
Goffin lost a total of four games in his first round win. Meanwhile, Copil, from Romania, is no Ilie Nastase. He is 0-1, career, against Gofin, and won’t take this match either.
Daniil Medvedev over Ryan Harrison
Harrison, already 26-years-old, played awfully well in his first round win over Vesely, winning in straight sets. But Medvedev looked even better, losing only four games and getting out of the 90+ degree heat quickly. Harrison will go down to the better player and join all the other Americans on the sidelines.
Fabio Fognini over Leo Mayer
Jaume Munar, from Spain, was playing top-notch tennis before he started to cramp in the Melbourne summer heat in his match against Fognini. Still, Fognini had won the first two sets in tie-breakers and seemed to have the match in hand. In the second set Fognini hit a backhand overhead for a winner that was perhaps the most athletic shot hit in the first two days of the Open. Fognini will have too many weapons and should overcome Mayer and his goofy service motion, although it will be a tough fight.
Sasha Zverev over Jeremy Chardy
Zverev looked awfully good in the first round, and I believe the 21-year-old is a legitimate contender here. At 6’6”, Sasha is as athletic as an NBA point guard and serves like Nolan Ryan used to pitch. He’ll pick apart Chardy, who spent a lot of time and energy on the court beating his compatriot Ugo Humbert in a fifth set tie-breaker in the first round.
Hyeon Chung over Pierre-Hughes Herbert
I don’t know how Chung got out of a two set to none hole against American Bradley Klahn, but he showed fortitude and fitness. Meanwhile, Herbert took apart American Sam Querrey in four sets, running away with the fourth. But Chung’s game is significantly different than Querrey’s, relying on pinpoint ground strokes, quickness, and stamina, rather than a big serve and a big forehand, and should prevail in a battle over the tough Frenchman.
Milos Raonic over Stan Wawrinka
Raonic showed how well he’s playing by taking apart the ultra-talented Nick Kyrgios in straight sets yesterday. Meanwhile, the recovering Stan Wawrinka moved on after losing the first set to Ernests Gulbis only because Gulbis’ back acted up mid-match and he couldn’t continue. Without really knowing how well Stan the Man is playing, I’m picking Raonic on the basis of his win yesterday.
Dominic Thiem over Alexei Popyrin
The dominant Austrian, who I think has an outside shot at this title, was pushed to five sets over the tough Frenchman Benoit Pare. Luckily for Thiem, the match took place under the lights when the oppressive heat and humidity had lessened considerably. He should push Popyrin a 19-year-old Australian who is 6’5”, around the court and ultimately overcome the youngster’s tough serves and announce his presence here in Melbourne.
Marin Cilic over Mack McDonald
Cilic overcame the tough Aussie Bernie Tomic in straight sets in the first round and looked close to the man who won the U.S. Open in 2014. McDonald, on the other hand, got a good win over Russian Andrey Rublev in four sets yesterday. But Cilic is just the better player and will win this match and move on.
Karen Khachanov over Yoshihito Nishioka
The 22-year-old, 6’6” Russian, Khachanov, who is eleven inches taller than Nishioka, is a legitimate contender for the title. He should take apart Nishioka, who had a really good win over American Tennys Sandgren yesterday. Khachanov is just that good.
Stefanos Tsitsipas over Viktor Troicki
This should be a very interesting match. Tsitsipas is young, hungry, talented, and very athletic. Troicki is experienced and trying to hang on as a top rate pro on the Tour. I think Tsitsipas is the better player at this time and will win in four.
Roger Federer over Daniel Evans
Fed looked like his usual self, taking the tough Denis Istomin apart in three quick sets looking as if he didn’t even break a sweat. Is it me, or do Federer’s matches look like they have been choreographed? He’ll beat Evans. Period.
Grigor Dimitrov over Pablo Cuevas
Dimitrov, the Bulgarian with all the talent in the world, has hired Andre Agassi to assist him in the mental part of the game. So far, it has worked. It should work for at least one more match, and probably more, as he should dominate the mainly clay-courter Cuevas.
Tomas Berdych over Robin Haase
This should be a slugfest, but in his straight set win over 13th seeded Kyle Edmund, Berdych showed some of the brilliance of his earlier career. He’ll need it all to overcome Haase, a tough out from The Netherlands, but I think he has it.
Alex de Minaur over Henri Laaksonen
As long as de Minaur, 19, is not tired after his run last week in Sydney and his straight set win yesterday, he should have too much game for Laaksonen. This should get de Minaur ready to take on Rafa in the next round.
Rafa Nadal over Matthew Ebden
Ebden took out the tough German Jan-Lennard Struff in four sets in his first round here to earn a quick $75,000 (Australian). That highlight should suffice for the Brit as he doesn’t stand a great chance of taking out Spain’s relentless Rafael Nadal.