The countdown to the US Open continues and the Winstom-Salem Open is the last chance for players to fine tune their games and improve their ranking heading into the final major of the season. We have been thrown the perfect curve ball on the way to Flushing Meadows will world number one Nocak Djokovic finally showing some chinks in his armour. It doesn’t spot there though. Andy Murray, his closest rival and man challenging for top spot in the rankings, looked fatigued against Marin Cilic in the final of the Cincinnati Masters. The Croat was able to domnate their encounter to claim his first Masters 1000 title. He is also a former US Open champion so the draw has definitely opened up heading to New York.
This week more than 10 of the top 50 ranked players have made their way to North Carolina including defending champion Kevin Anderson. This court has always been very well suited to players who play an aggressive style of tennis and are winning to come in behind big serves. Recent winners include John Isner and Lukas Rosol while Berdych, Monfils and Janowicz have all been finalists. The Wolf has marked Kevin Anderson and Steve Johnson as the two men to beat. There will also be interest will Aussies Millman and Kokkinakis in the draw.
James Duckworth v Mikhail Youzhny
It’s been a tough road for James Duckworth as he struggles to climb the rankings. As a result he has been forced to go through the qualifiers for most ATP tour level events. Prior to his first round win in Washington he had lost in the opening round on three consecutive occasions on the main tour and had lost 7 straight matches across all levels. He doesn’t have the arsenal to take the game away form Youzhny and the experienced will no doubt wear down his game and expose his weaknesses. The Wolf is expecting Youzhy to employ the slice backhand on a regular basis – a shot that Duckworth has traditionally struggled to cope with.
Tip: Sets Youzhny 2-0 ($2.00)
Taylor Fritz v Frances Tiafoe
This could very well be a battle that we see a lot more of in the years to come with two American teenagers facing off. Fritz has made the bigger splash with his finals appearance in Memphis earlier this year but his form has tailed off since. The same cannot be said about Tiafoe who is the form player on the Challenger Tour. In the last two months he made the finals in Winnetka and Lexington before a title winning run in Granby last week. He also won the pairs only meeting in Indian Wells earlier this year. Both men build their game around the serve but The Wolf says Tiafoe will have a distinct edge in baseline exchanges. He also has a very awkward style which will be tricky for Fritz to break down. Tiafoe hits with extreme spin on the forehand and his loopoing ball will no doubt test Fritz who plays a traditional style and likes to swing from the hip. As the outsider Tiafoe is the value bet here.
Tip: Tiafoe WIN ($2.00)
Winston Salem – 1st Round Tips
|Schwartzman v Kukushkin||Kukushkin -3.5 ($2.00)|
|Dzumhur v Garcia-Lopez||Dzumhur +2.5 ($1.83)|
|Estrella v Rosol||Rosol WIN ($1.50)|
|Duckworth v Youzhny||Sets Youzhny 2-0 ($2.00)|
|Edmund v Ram||Over 22.5 games ($1.80)|
|Fritz v Tiafoe||Tiafoe WIN ($2.00)|
|Young v Herbert||Number of Sets – 3 Sets ($2.15)|