Round 1 of the ATP Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati is complete, with a couple of surprises, including the early exit of Montreal champion Pablo Carreno Busta. That was perhaps overshadowed by an upset featuring a player we recently highlighted as a future star, Ben Shelton, who overcame Lorenzo Sonego while yet sitting outside the top 200. The Round of 16 has a bunch of exciting matchups, and we do our best to call the matches. 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 4 Predictions
Casper Ruud vs Ben Shelton
Head-to-head: first meeting
Emerging talent Ben Shelton catches a rough draw after looking good against Lorenzo Sonego, who represented the 19 year-old Shelton’s second win on the tour. Ruud is playing exceptional, although he prefers clay, and has a 12-5 record on hard court this year, while hitting his career-high of #5 in the world. I expect these last few weeks will become the “Ben Shelton moment” in the future, where we look back and say “That’s when we first heard of this guy.” But it’s reasonable to expect that he needs a little more time before he’s beating the top 5.
Prediction: Ruud in 2
Jannik Sinner vs Miomir Kecmanovic
Head-to-head: Sinner 2-0
Kecmanovic has been given a tall task in Cincinnati, first drawing Pablo Carreno Busta right after the Spaniard’s finals victory in Montreal, and now getting an in-form Jannik Sinner. Sinner was knocked out quick by Carreno Busta in Montreal, but is coming off of an Umag title and the quarters at Wimbledon, and has an 18-4 record on hard court this year. Kecmanovic has had a good season, and I expect him to put up a fight, but Sinner has a more consistently high level, and he won their two previous hard court matchups.
Prediction: Sinner in 3
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Filip Krajinovic
Head-to-head: Tsitsipas 2-1
Tsitsipas has played just one match in the last six weeks, a loss to Jack Draper in Montreal. Otherwise he has won 42 matches on the year and two titles, and was also a semifinalist in Cincinnati the last two years. That’s a formidable resume, if we consider Tsitsipas to be well-rested here rather than rusty, and it’s unfortunate for Krajinovic that he has to face another top player. Five of the Serb’s last six losses have been to top players, but otherwise he’s played pretty well, including a finals appearance in London a couple months ago. I don’t think he’ll take this one, but he’s played well enough—and Tsitsipas has played too little recently—for me to call this in two.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 3
Nick Kyrgios vs Taylor Fritz
Head-to-head: first meeting
Kyrgios should be at least somewhat mentally and physically rested after being knocked out of Montreal by Hubert Hurkacz, and he beat the feisty Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in straight sets to move on to Round 2 here. I would pick him over just about anyone in the world right now, although it’s not an easy call against Fritz. The American has a very high level when his serve is working, and destroyed Sebastian Baez in Round 1, although he hasn’t beaten a Top 20 player since Indian Wells. Kyrgios is at that level, and it will take Fritz’s best (and no injuries) to move on. I expect the Aussie to prevail, but this could be a really great match.
Prediction: Kyrgios in 3
Main Photo from Getty.