Del Potro kicks off our US Open ATP 3 to See

 

By Jake Davies

  • The three ATP matches to look out for on Day 8 of the US Open
  • Dominic Thiem [8] vs Juan Martin Del Potro
  • Illya Marchenko vs Stan Wawrinka [3]
  • Kei Nishikori [6] vs Ivo Karlovic [21]
NEW YORK, USA – Can Juan Martin Del Potro continue his run on a wildcard as he opens the best of our picks of the R16 match-ups on Day 8 of the US Open.

 

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Dominic Thiem [8] vs Juan Martin Del Potro H2H: Del Potro leads 1-0

Monday’s schedule kicks off with Del Potro and Thiem battling away on Arthur Ashe. It will be an exhibition of two of the most explosive forehands on tour. Del Potro is renowned for the velocity of his forehand, but Thiem will give him a real run for his money in that department.

Thiem, now a Top 10 player, has flown up the rankings in 2016 by winning four of his seven ATP titles inside this year alone. One of the most exciting things about Thiem’s game is his ability to transfer good results from one court to another, which is evident by the fact that he has won titles on three different surfaces this year – grass, hard and clay.

Del Potro, who is back in a Grand Slam fourth round for the first time since Wimbledon 2013, will feel he has unfinished business at the higher echelons of the men’s game having had multiple wrist surgeries in his career – three times on the left wrist and once on the right in 2010.

These two players have played already in 2016 as Del Potro prevailed in straight sets in the Madrid Masters.

Thiem is gaining valuable experience at majors having made the semi-finals at Roland Garros. The gap between these two players could shorten with time, but I think Del Potro’s big match pedigree will count for a lot in this one.

Prediction: Del Potro in four sets.

 

Illya Marchenko vs Stan Wawrinka [3] – H2H: Wawrinka leads 1-0

Ukrainian Marchenko dealt with the pressure of finishing off an injured opponent when he faced Nick Kyrgios in the third round on his first showing on Arthur Ashe stadium. The fact that he kept the foot on the accelerator really questioned Kyrgios’ motivation of wanting to stay on the court and Marchenko got rewarded for it, as Kyrgios retired through injury.

Wawrinka will be another massive hurdle for Marchenko. Both players struggle enormously with their consistency but excel in producing the spectacular from out of nowhere. For Marchenko to win this match, he needs to play one of his better matches ever on the ATP tour. Coming into 2016, he had never won a set off a Top 10 player (0-11 in sets) and claimed his first Top 10 win by beating David Ferrer in Doha earlier this year.

This is Marchenko’s first fourth round at a major and he had previously lost in the first round of all three majors in 2016.

Wawrinka considered himself extremely lucky to come through by saving a match point against Britain’s Dan Evans, but Wawrinka really did show his champion qualities when it mattered most. Sometimes one of those matches, where a player is close to defeat, really can give a player a lift as they feel an air of invincibility. A prime example of that is when the now-retired Li Na faced match point against Lucie Safarova in the 2014 Australian Open in the third round. She eventually went on to win the whole tournament without losing a set.

Marchenko could play his part in a very exciting match, but Wawrinka has the knowhow and expertise of just what it takes to win matches at this stage of a Grand Slam, whereas Marchenko does not.

Prediction: Wawrinka in four sets.

 

Kei Nishikori [6] vs Ivo Karlovic [21] H2H: Karlovic leads 2-1

6ft 11 Karlovic takes on the diminutive Nishikori in the last of our must-watch fourth round matches. Karlovic is still getting the absolute best out of his quick fire game at the age of 37 and continues to excel on the hard and grass courts throughout the year.

Karlovic has the advantage in the previous meetings, leading 2-1, but Nishikori has faired better at the US Open in recent memory. Nishikori, a former US Open finalist in his own right, is having a phenomenal year and looks like he will successfully qualify for the World Tour Finals in London again.

It has also been a fruitful year for Karlovic. He picked up two titles in Newport and at Los Cabos, which shows he still has a lot to offer at the twilight of his career.

Karlovic has only ever won one major fourth round in his entire career between 2003 and 2016, while the Japanese star has made four grand slam quarter finals inside the last 3 years alone. I think Nishikori will get past the big serving Karlovic by picking the right opportunities to neutralise the Croatian’s serve. Nishikori is one of the best returners statistically over the course of the 2016 season on second serve return points won.

Prediction: Nishikori in 3 sets

The fourth rounds matches start with Thiem v Del Potro at 11am (4pm BST).

 

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