Day 3 will be buzzing at the ATP Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati with the return of Rafael Nadal. Nadal is the day’s headliner in his first tournament back since Wimbledon. The slate is strong throughout as well with title contenders including Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev, and Roberto Bautista Agut. It will be another great day of tennis, with all matches predicted at Last Word on Tennis, as always. We split the rest of the day’s matches between two other articles. One features Nick Kyrgios vs Taylor Fritz and the other features Andy Murray vs Cameron Norrie.
ATP Cincinnati Day 3 Predictions
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Alex de Minaur
While this is the third meeting between the pair, it is the first time they face each other since 2018. Both players have had good years and captured titles on hard courts. De Minaur has looked strong at times and made good runs but has often struggled to beat top players. Auger-Aliassime has been up and down on the year with several strong results mixed in with poor losses. He will look to recover from a poor loss last week to Casper Ruud where he managed to win just three games.
De Minaur had a tough loss in Montreal as well to Nick Kyrgios, though he had a nice run beating Grigor Dimitrov and Denis Shapovalov. De Minaur will try to use his speed to grind against the Canadian from the baseline, but Auger-Aliassime will make that difficult for him with his power from the forehand and backhand side. Auger-Aliassime will provide too much of a challenge to de Minaur who hasn’t looked quite as dangerous as he did in the past. The fast courts will play into his game and while the Australian won’t make it easy, he will pull away late to win the match.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 3
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Marcos Giron
Head-to-head: 1-0 Bautista Agut
These two are playing for the second time in as many weeks, with Bautista Agut taking the match in straight sets. Even at age 34, Bautista Agut looks just as dangerous and as physically fit as ever. He is in great form and captured the recent title on clay in Kitzbuhel and again looked strong back on hard courts in Montreal.
Giron transferred back to hard courts early but struggled at first. He lost his first two matches on the surface, though he has qualified in both Montreal and Cincinnati. Giron has improved of late but has simply not had a very good year overall. He has grinded to results in qualifying but has shown he is not quite at the level of some of the top player. Bautista Agut is the opposite, both in overall talent and form, and his physical, solid game makes him a threat to win even on bad days. Bautista Agut won last week in straight sets against Giron and once again has too many tools and physical strength for Giron to get past.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 2
Fabio Fognini vs Andrey Rublev
Head-to-head: 5-4 Rublev
While their rivalry has been competitive over their careers, Rublev has dominated the later meetings winning four straight, two of which were on hard courts. Rublev has had a solid year, capturing three titles including two on hard. He has not looked his sharpest the last few weeks, losing his last two matches both in situations where he struggled holding serve.
Fognini is not a great hard court player, and he lost the final round of qualifying here against Marcus Giron. He made the most of his Lucky Loser status by beating fellow clay-court specialist Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round. Rublev will be a much more difficult challenge, and as long as he takes care of business on serve, should be able to win easily. Rublev has won six straight sets against Fognini including four on hard, and this will be no different. Fognini will not be as big of a threat on serve as Dan Evans was last week, so Rublev will hold and power past Fognini in two convincing sets.
Prediction: Rublev in 2
Rafael Nadal vs Borna Coric
Nadal is returning to the court for the first time after pulling out of Wimbledon before his semifinal. After seeing practice videos, he seems physically fit and ready to return to the top level he has been playing at all year. Coric has good memories playing Nadal, beating his as a teenager which lead to his quick rise as a young star. Unfortunately, injuries and poor form have kept Coric from reaching the potential many thought he could get to. He has had a solid year overall after missing time due to injuries, though his best results in 2022 have come on the clay.
Coric lost badly last week in Montreal to countryman Marin Cilic, where he simply did not quite look ready yet for elite-level tennis. He was able to score a first round win here, though it came against Lorenzo Musetti who is far less dangerous on hard than clay. The only concern with Nadal is health, but at this point he likely gave himself extra rest to ensure he is fully ready to play. He had an incredible run to the Australian Open title, and will hope to get comfortable again on hard courts to take aim at the US Open. Nadal will be a bit rusty to start but will shake it off quickly and cruise to victory.
Prediction: Nadal in 2
Main Photo from Getty.