By Jake Davies

  • Stan Wawrinka vs Grigor Dimitrov [8]
  • Rafael Nadal [1] vs David Ferrer
  • Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Venus Williams [16]
NEW YORK, UNITED STATES – We look at the three matches to watch out for on the opening day of the 2018 US Open.

 

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Stan Wawrinka vs Grigor Dimitrov [8] H2H: Dimitrov leads 4-3

In the pick of the matches on Day 1 of the US Open, three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka opens his tournament with a tasty first round encounter against Grigor Dimitrov. This will be the second grand slam in a row where the two players have been drawn against each other in the opening round, with Wawrinka picking up the victory to claim his first win in five matches in the head-to-head.

This feels like a massive tournament for Wawrinka, who claimed the US Open title two years ago, but a lot has happened in the career of Wawrinka since then, having been away from tennis for quite some time due to a knee injury.

Wawrinka has made some gradual progress in the last couple of weeks, winning big matches over Nick Kyrgios and Marton Fucsovics in Toronto before succumbing to an outstanding display of tennis from Rafael Nadal. But Wawrinka’s most notable scalp came against Kei Nishikori in the Cincinnati Masters and that has set him up for more of an optimistic showing at this year’s US Open.

The match-up against Dimitrov is a fascinating one. Two of the better one-handed backhands on tour going against each other, but two very different one-handed backhands. Wawrinka renowned for having one of the stronger and riskier one-handers on the tour, while Dimitrov’s is a lot more appealing on the eye. Wawrinka will most likely come out with the win in this one. He is not near the level he needs to be to be contesting Grand Slams, but he is in a better head space than Dimitrov, who has struggled for form since the clay season and struggles to win matches convincingly these days. Wawrinka may just hold his nerve that little bit better to claim victory.

Prediction: Wawrinka in four sets

 

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Rafael Nadal [1] vs David Ferrer H2H: Nadal leads 24-6

Rafael Nadal in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018

Rafael Nadal in the first round of Roland Garros, 2018 | (Photo by Aurelien Meunier/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal begins the defence of his title against former Top-5 and Grand Slam finalist David Ferrer. It’s a repeat of the 2013 Roland Garros final, where Ferrer made his sole Grand Slam final, but it has been a head-to-head over the years that Nadal really has dominated by winning 24 of the 30 matches they have played.

Nadal should start this campaign the right way. Ferrer is a shadow of the player he was a few years ago. The return of serve is less effective, his consistency from the baseline has diminished and it is much easier to get an unforced error from Ferrer now that his footwork is not quite as sharp as it used to be. Nadal should have the mental edge and for him to elongate the rallies long enough to grind a way past Ferrer, who could be playing his last ever Grand Slam tournament before retirement.

Prediction: Nadal in straight sets

 

Svetlana Kuznetsova vs Venus Williams [16] H2H: Tied at 5-5

Svetlana Kuznetsova - 2017 WTA Mutua Madrid Open

Svetlana Kuznetsova – 2017 WTA Mutua Madrid Open (c) Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

The biggest match in the women’s draw has to be the match featuring two of tennis’ greatest champions as Svetlana Kuznetsova takes on Venus Williams for a spot in the second round. This time last year Kuznetsova was World No.8 but due to a long-term wrist injury, she has seen her ranking fall all the way outside the World’s Top 100. The Russian surprisingly gained some form of late, winning the Washington title, which could help her along her way to beating last year’s US Open semi-finalist Venus Williams.

It is a big opportunity for both players. Williams has not played a lot of tennis this season and has not picked up big wins even in the preparation to the last Grand Slam of the year, while Kuznetsova will be the more confident of the two because of recent results going her way.

Prediction: Kuznetsova in three sets

 

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