(A Technical glitch in our byline program attributes this article to Howard Gensler, but it was written by our Tennis writer, Neal Abrams. We regret the error.)
Winston Salem Open
Winston Salem, NC
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Men’s Third Round
Denis Shapovalov over Miomir Kecmanovic
Denis Shapovalov hit groundstrokes like a tennis robot on Tuesday when he took out Tennys Sandgren. His problem was that when he came to net, and he did that pretty effectively, he missed so many volleys as to signal to the other Tour players that that is his weakness. He was up a set and 3-0, 40-love, and somehow played that second set lead into a 4-4 deadlock that he was lucky to get out of. If I were his coach I’d put him at the net and do an hour-and-a-half of two-on-ones from the baseline for the next five days until he has to play in New York. Aside from that, he looked awfully good. If Kecmanovic can’t serve him off the court, and I don’t think he can, Shapovalov should win this match and move into the quarters.
Ugo Humbert over Benoit Paire
I have a difficult time watching Benoit Paire. His form often offends my sensibilities because he stands straight up when he serves. He skips the knee bend position, and hits the serve with a straight back, which always looks unnatural. Aside from that, his two-handed backhand looks almost like a half-stroke that has been interrupted in the middle, and often results in miss-hits or worse. But he’s been playing well, so I have to keep his attack on my senses in perspective. I like Ugo Humbert, the 21-year-old who is also from France. He’s a bit inconsistent, rotating playing like a genius with playing like a child. If he’s Humbert the genius, he’ll take out the un-athletic looking Paire, with the straight collar, beard, and all.
Casper Ruud over Stevie Johnson
Every Tour player knows that to beat Stevie Johnson, you must attack his slice backhand, and then put him under pressure by making him hit that shot as a passing shot. Lucky for Stevie that he played French rookie Corentin Moutet who either didn’t know how to play the American, or just couldn’t execute that game play, and then Dan Evans who played about as bad as a Tour pro could play. Casper Ruud won’t do that. He’ll be ready, and that means the end for Johnson.
France Tiafoe over Flip Krajinovic
Flip Krajinovic was down a set and 3-2 to Thomas Berdych and the Birdman lost it. He went from dominating play to just trying to stay competitive, and the Serbian managed to win the second set 7-5 before he dominated the third set. That result was not because Krajinovic was that good, it was more because Berdych had a physical problem. Tiafoe, however, should be well rested and confident, as he only had to play a couple of games before Jeremy Chardy pulled out in their second round contest, after getting a bye. The only reason I’m picking Tiafoe is because he has to play better, or he’ll be a disaster in NYC. Not a great reason.
Andrey Rublev over Sam Querrey
Sam Querrey beat Andrey Rublev in straight sets this year at Wimbledon, but here in Winston Salem, N.C., they’re not playing on grass. Rublev has raised his game so much in the six weeks since Wimbledon (last week he beat Roger Federer in straight sets in Cincinnati) that I think the Russian should be the clear favorite here. He also had a win over Stan Wawrinka last week, and Dominic Thiem two weeks before that, so his win over Roger was not a fluke. Of course, Sam has that serve, and if he serves out of his mind, he can beat anyone. But the 21-year-old Russian is peaking at just the right time.
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