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Alexander Zverev, of Germany, returns a shot to Frances Tiafoe, of the United States, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Alexander Zverev, of Germany, returns a shot to Frances Tiafoe, of the United States, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)|Associated Press
Tennis

U.S. Open men's 3rd round Saturday: Abrams picks Nadal vs Chung, Kyrgios vs Rublev, Zverev vs Bedene, Isner vs Cilic, Monfils vs Shapovalov

Matches start at 1:15 pm EDT

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

2019 U.S. Open

Flushing Meadows, Queens, NY

Men’s Third Round picks

Saturday, August 31, 2019

Rafa Nadal over Hyeon Chung

It’s really great to see South Korea’s Hyeon Chung back on the Tour and playing so well after three separate injuries over the past 19 months took him off the Tour entirely. If he keeps up his momentum I have no doubt that we’ll see him in the Top 25 pretty soon. His semi-final showing in the 2018 Australian Open surely shows that the man can play with the best of ‘em. But he’s 0-2 against the Iron Man from Mallorca, and Chung’s first win over Nadal won’t come here.

Nick Kyrgios over Andrey Rublev

Russia’s Andrey Rublev is coming into his own right now. He’s a very tough out because he hits his serves so darn hard, and he blasts his groundies so well that it’s tough for most players to find a weakness and attack when they’re spending most of their time defending. But he’s 0-1 against Kyrgios, and the mental patient from Down Under has way too many shots and way too many ways of attacking Rublev for the Russian to walk away with a win. You know what to expect: booming serves, drop shots, tweeners, perhaps an underhand serve or two, some unplayable angled volleys and half-volleys, a running monologue directed either at his entourage or to no one in particular, and some pretty controversial actions, all by Kyrgios. Frankly, it wouldn’t surprise me if one day Kyrgios pulls a Jim Morrison imitation and shows his ying-yang. If history is any teacher though, he’ll save that tasty bit of sportsmanship for Miami, where Morrison was said to have done it. But Kyrgios really needs to win this match, because his first two wins here just went to pay off his $113,000 fine from his outbursts in Cincinnati.

Sascha Zverev over Aljaz Bedene

Zverev hasn’t played his best tennis in New York, but he is so darn talented that he can win without his best. Usually that is what is said about champions who figure out a way to win when they’re not “on”. But Zverev isn’t a champion just yet. Still, he’s 3-0 lifetime against Bedene, and unless the German throws in a real clunker, I’d be surprised if Bedene could make this close.

Gael Monfils over Denis Shapovalov

Young Canadian Denis Shapovalov is showing some real winning form and great resolve here in the Big Apple. His first round demolition of countryman FA2 was a surprising, yet decisive win, and his second round win over Henri Laaksonen was purely workmanlike. However the Flying Frenchman, Gael Monfils, has not lost a set yet, and has looked like a combination of Superman and Flash in his two matches. This should be an incredibly entertaining athletic contest, but Monfils is both the better entertainer and the better athlete.

John Isner over Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic looked doomed Thursday night and somehow recovered and stormed back to knock out returning German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe. John Isner hasn’t dropped a set yet in a very quiet week at the Open, and his 6-3, 7-6, 7-6 second round victory over the ultra-competitive Jan-Lennard Struff was typical Isner: Stay close, hold serve, and win the tiebreakers. I expect more of the same in this match.

Diego Schwartzman over Tennys Sandgren

I love watching Diego Schwartzman, at all of 5’6” tall, chop down all the big trees put in front of him at tournaments like this. He went into his first round match against 6’3” Robin Haase 0-5 lifetime against the man from The Hague, and won the match in three straight sets, 6-0 in the third. Then he matched up against 6’5” Belarussian Egor Gerasimov and tripped up that Goliath in three straight sets also, 6-0 in the third. Schwartzman probably won’t win this third rounder against conservative Southern American (I don’t want to call him a Confederate, and I can’t call him a Yankee…) Tennys Sandgren, another giant to Schwartzman, at 6’2”, in three straight sets. Nor will the Argentine win the third set 6-0. But the diminutive Argentinean will win this match. It will give the Tennessean two things to be unhappy about: first, that he lost the match, and second, that the U.S. Open stays in New York and doesn’t get moved to the South---which is where he thinks the Open belongs, because “that’s where patriots live”.

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