It’s been an exciting week of tennis so far at the ATP Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and the action continues on Thursday with round of 16 action.
Who will win and who will fall short on Day 5 of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati? I givr my best guesses!
ATP Cincinnati Day 4 Predictions
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Jannik Sinner
Head to Head: 1-0 Auger-Aliassime
Felix Auger-Aliassime played very well to beat Alex De Minaur 6-3 6-2 to advance to the round of 16. Auger-Aliassime won 82% of his first-serve points and 48% of his return points in the victory. Jannik Sinner, after sneaking past Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round, had an easier time against Miomir Kecmanovic. Sinner won 94% of his first serves in the 7-5 3-1 (retirement) victory.
Auger-Aliassime leads the head to head 1-0, although their one matchup was on altitude clay, so I don’t think it has much of a bearing on this matchup. Both players have strong first serves, but Sinner’s consistency and controlled aggression from the baseline are at a higher level than Auger-Aliassime’s. While this match might be close, Sinner’s game is more reliable in the crucial moments.
Prediction: Sinner in 3
Ben Shelton vs Cameron Norrie
Head to Head: never played
While Ben Shelton has had a lot of recent success on the ATP Challenger Tour, he is now making waves on the ATP Tour, defeating Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 to advance in Cincinnati. Shelton won 82% of his service points and didn’t face a break point all match. Cameron Norrie had to rally from a set deficit against Andy Murray in the second round, but got the come-from-behind victory, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Norrie was all over Murray’s second serve, winning 27/41 second-serve return points.
These two have never played before. Shelton has a huge lefty first serve and has incredible pop on his lefty forehand. The American’s backhand is also becoming more solid over time. Norrie gets consistent depth from the baseline and has an awkward lefty game that befuddles many of his opponents. Shelton’s lefty serve out wide on the ad-side will not be as effective against Norrie’s excellent return game, which will limit Shelton’s effectiveness on-serve. In addition, while Shelton will be able to power through Norrie from the baseline at times, Norrie’s excellent speed and counterpunching around the court will wear Shelton down.
Prediction: Norrie in 3
Taylor Fritz vs Andrey Rublev
Head to Head: 3-2 Fritz
Taylor Fritz dominated a tired Nick Kyrgios in the second round, beating the Aussie 6-3, 6-2. Fritz won 86% of his first serves and didn’t even face a break point all match. Andrey Rublev won a tight second-round encounter with Fabio Fognini, edging out the victory 6-7(7) 7-6(3) 6-2. Rublev won 81% of his first-serve points and was only broken once during the match.
Fritz leads the head to head 3-2, most recently taking out the Russian in straight sets during Indian Wells. Fritz has the better serve of the two and, while his backhand has always been strong, his forehand has become more reliable in recent matches. Rublev has a big forehand but has struggled with his rally tolerance a bit in recent matches. Fritz has the more reliable baseline game right now and that will be enough for him to win this match, but barely.
Prediction: Fritz in 3
Carlos Alcaraz vs Marin Cilic
Head to Head: tied 1-1
Carlos Alcaraz comfortably defeated Mackenzie McDonald 6-3 6-2 to advance to the round of 16. Alcaraz wasn’t broken all match, winning 82% of his service points. Marin Cilic survived a tough test from Emil Ruusuvuori, defeating the Finn 6-4 6-7(5) 7-5. Cilic hit 13 aces and won 78% of his first-serve points, while also winning 56% of the points on Ruusuvuori’s second serve.
The head to head is tied 1-1, although Alcaraz won the most recent meeting in straights during this year’s Miami tournament (on hard courts). Cilic will need to win plenty of free points with his first serve because, from the baseline, Alcaraz is the much better player at this stage in Cilic’s career. Alcaraz is faster than Cilic, has a higher rally tolerance, and has better control on his groundstrokes when looking to be aggressive.
Prediction: Alcaraz in 2
Main Photo from Getty.