US Open Men’s First Round Watchability Power Rankings

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There are plenty of dull, unappetizing matches in the first round of the US Open men’s singles draw. Fortunately, the following duels have the potential to be incredibly entertaining for one reason or another.

Again, in this article we will are not necessarily considering the quality of play, but the ability of the players to own tennis Twitter. Game on!

Adiós, Ferru

#1 Rafael Nadal vs David Ferrer

After many years of sustained excellence, a genuine gladiator is hanging up his racket. The 36-year-old Ferrer, who will likely play his final Grand Slam in New York, was awarded a terrible matchup with world No. 1 Nadal.

The Javea native is a humongous underdog against his countryman despite holding a favorable 2-0 edge on hard court Slams. In fact, Ferrer has swept the last six such sets between the two (2007 US Open R16, 2011 Australian Open QF). Times have changed. It’s hard to imagine him snagging one on Monday.

Watchability Index: 9/10 

Now or Never

#18 Jack Sock vs Guido Andreozzi

The American is ranked almost 100 spots above the Argentinian despite his despicable 5-16 record in 2018. The former 2010 boys champion can’t buy a win to save his life is currently riding a 8-match losing skid. The good news: only three of Andreozzi’s 31 wins this year have come on tour-level main draws. However, two of these victories came at the Winston-Salem Open last week. Per Oddchecker, Sock is a 2/5 favorite. I wouldn’t bet a candy bar…

Watchability Index: 6/10
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Déjà Vu

#3 Juan Martin Del Potro vs Donald Young

Can you believe these two have never faced each other as pros? Born one year apart, they dominated the junior circuit a little over a decade ago, with the American emerging victorious 7-5 7-5 in their lone encounter: the final of the 27th International Casablanca Junior Cup (Mexico, first week of 2005).

Watchability Index: 7/10 
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First of Many

#28 Denis Shapovalov vs Felix Auger-Aliassime

Likewise, these two uber-talented Canadian youngsters have never met on the tour, although they have split their two previous matches on record. Auger-Aliassime took home the 2015 College Park junior title, whereas Shapovalov earned the win at the 2017 Drummondville Challenger semifinal. Their skills are off-the-charts, so it’s easy to envision them battling for big titles in the near future. This is hands down the match of the hype.

Watchability Index: 10/10 
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One-handed Backhand Clinic

#15 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Tommy Robredo

The 36-year-old Spaniard, who could realistically be Tsitsipas’ father, is far off his peak, five years after a magical quarterfinal run in which he beat Roger Federer. An ill-timed injury derailed his progress this year after capturing a Challenger title in Lisbon (Portugal) back in May. Still, his astuteness on the court makes him a tricky R128 opponent for the rising Tsitsipas. For what it’s worth, Robredo dismantled the Greek 6-2 6-1 in Brescia (Italy) a couple of years ago.

Watchability Index: 8/10 

New York Futures

James Duckworth vs Andy Murray

A perennial feature on our Keep Getting’ Dem Checks section, Duckworth keeps making good use of the protected ranking provision. Currently ranked No. 445, the Australian has, on paper, a winnable matchup against world No. 378 Andy Murray, a fellow protected ranking user.

Back to reality. The Scottish star, who won the whole thing in 2012, should easily advance to the second round.

Watchability Index: 5/10 

#10 David Goffin vs Federico Gaio

The Italian journeyman, sitting at No. 241 in the rankings, surprised everyone when he qualified for the main draw. The 26-year-old had little to no experience at Grand Slams before. Prior to the US Open, Gaio had earned $38,496 in 2018, so he will (more than) double his yearly income even with a loss.

Fun fact: In February, Gaio entered a $15,000 Futures in Murcia (Spain) and lost to 15-year-old mega-prospect Carlos Alcaraz, unranked at the time. Six months later, the Italian will be making bank at the US Open. You cannot predict tennis.

Watchability Index: 6/10 


Yannick Hanfmann vs Philipp Kohlschreiber

#17 Lucas Pouille vs Yannick Maden

Ugo Humbert vs Collin Altamirano

#11 John Isner vs Bradley Klahn

A bunch of former NCAA stars will have their chance to shine at the US Open. Hanfmann (USC), Maden (Clemson,) and Altamirano (Virginia) will all be making either their debut or their second appearance at a Grand Slam main draw, while the 28-year-old Klahn (Stanford), having overcome many injuries, is hoping to revive his career against Isner (Georgia).

Watchability Index: 6/10 

Calendar Year Lucky-Loser-Slam

#4 Alexander Zverev vs Peter Polansky

Please, let’s all give a round of applause to Polansky! In case you didn’t know, the Canadian just made history after becoming the first player ever to earn a lucky loser spot in all four Slams during the same season. Barring a colossal upset over Zverev, he will make history again for wasting all of his second chances, since he dropped his R128 matches at the Australian Open, Roland Garros, and Wimbledon.

Watchability Index: 6/10 
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