Spain’s Rafael Nadal will be in action  against Aussie John Millman Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, at the U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  
Spain’s Rafael Nadal will be in action against Aussie John Millman Tuesday, Aug. 27, 2019, at the U.S. Open. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)  |Associated Press

U.S. Open 1st round Tuesday: Abrams picks Thiem vs Fabbiano, Nadal vs Millman, Isner vs Garcia-Lopez, Zverev vs Albot, Paire vs Schnur, more

Matches start at 11 am EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

2019 U.S. Open

Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY

Men’s First Round picks

Tuesday, August 27, 2019

(Times are approximate)

Dominic Thiem over Thomas Fabbiano, 1:15 pm EDT

Thiem, the 4th seed here, should roll over Italian Thomas Fabbiano. Fabbiano had a 6-8 week stretch leading into the summer when he was playing lights out tennis, but that period is over, and Thiem, a clay court connoisseur, shouldn’t have much trouble moving on even on the hard courts here.

Rafa Nadal over John Millman, 7 pm EDT

John Millman’s claim to fame remains his Round of 16 win last September over Roger Federer in the Big Apple. He’s not done much since, in terms of making any other statement wins, and he won’t get one here in his first round match-up with Rafa. Expect Rafa to roll, and Millman’s ranking to tank after not being able to replace his quarterfinal ranking points from last year.

John Isner over Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, 12:15 pm EDT

It’s been eleven years since Garcia-Lopez, the 36-year-old Spaniard that kept Yankee Tommy Paul out of the main draw, beat John Isner. I’m not saying it’ll be another 11 years before the Spaniard beats Isner again, but it won’t be today.

Sascha Zverev over Radu Albot, 1:30 pm EDT

After Radu Albot won Delray Beach in March, I expected to see him make deep runs in tough tournaments, but he didn’t. He’s solid enough, just not great, nor is he terribly exciting to watch. He should be the perfect sparring partner for Sascha Zverev if the German wants to finally make a deep run in a Grand Slam event. He sure has the talent to do so, but no one, least of all Zverev, is sure of the timing.

Marin Cilic over Martin Klizan, 12:15 pm EDT

Marin Cilic beat Martin Klizan three times in 2012 just before Marin Cilic became MARIN CILIC. They didn’t play again until this year when Cilic (with lowercase letters, again) took out the Slovakian in a close match in Spain. I expect more of the same here.

Jo-Willie Tsonga over Tennys Sandgren, 2:15 pm EDT

Seven months ago Tennys Sandgren was ranked #41, and was getting seeded in some Masters 250 and 500 tournaments. Now, at #72, Sandgren has appeared to have taken a step backward. Tsonga also is not what he was, particularly in 2012 when the charismatic Frenchman who resembles Muhammad Ali was ranked #5. Now, at age 34, he’s ranked #65, and seems to suffer more than his fair share of injuries. Yet, he’s 23-14 for 2019, which, any way you look at it, is pretty good. Tsonga should roll as long as he’s healthy.

Hyeon Chung over Ernesto Escobedo, 1:30 pm EDT

Hyeon Chung got to the semis of the 2018 Australian Open, which upped his ranking to #19, and got him into all the tournaments he wanted to play last year. Unfortunately, the South Korean who plays with squash goggles, endured blisters on his feet and an ankle injury that kept him from playing a full schedule, and then had a back injury when he tried to come back this year. With his ranking at #170 right now, Chung had to qualify for the Open, and drew American wild card Ernesto Escobedo, a 23-year-old Californian who is more of a journeyman and a Challenger player than anything else. Chung, if healthy, should have little trouble. Let’s see if Escobedo loses in three or four.

Benoit Paire over Brayden Schnur, 3:30 pm EDT

Benoit Paire, the 30-year-old Frenchman who is 6’5”, has had a darn good year for him, and has raised his ranking from #52 at the end of 2018 to #26. This year he’s won two tournaments, was a finalist at a third, and has shown the ability to win matches when he hunkers down and chooses to compete. He’s also shown a bit of a vile temper, especially when he matches up with Nick Kyrgios, a match that we unfortunately will not be lucky enough to see in New York City. Paire should jump all over Brayden Schnur, a 24-year-old Canadian, who, after FA2, Shapavalov, and Raonic is a Canadian afterthought. If Schnur played mixed doubles with countrywoman Genie Bouchard, I’d watch that.


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