Ivo Karlovic v Yen-Hsun Lu
A couple of retirements contributed to Ivo Karlovic’s terrible start to 2016, but there has been a change in the last few months. Since reaching the French Open Third Round and Wimbledon Second Round, Karlovic has turned things around with two title wins and reaching the Final of another tournament.
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That should give Karlovic plenty of confidence to take into this First Round match against Yen-Hsun Lu, even if the big Croatian was surprisingly beaten by Juan Monaco in Cincinnati.
His opponent has had solid successes at the Challenger level, but he has been a mixed bag of results over the summer on the hard courts. Lu did reach the Quarter Final in Winston Salem last week for a boost ahead of the US Open, but he had been just 2-4 in hard court matches since Wimbledon and I do expect Karlovic to be a little too good at key moments.
Karlovic has returned well enough to think he can pressure Lu and he will be confident he can get the better of any tie-breakers they play. Previously these players are 4-4 in tie-breakers played against one another so I wouldn’t be surprised if Lu is able to take a set in this one, but I think his serve is more likely to offer up the break points and Ivo Karlovic can come through in three or four sets.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Ivo Karlovic -1.5 Sets @ 1.92 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Feliciano Lopez v Borna Coric
This is an interesting First Round match and, I have to say, I feel Borna Coric might be a little overrated thanks to an impressive showing in Cincinnati. He had to eventually pull out of that tournament thanks to a knee injury after wins over Gilles Simon and Rafael Nadal, but I think those wins have the layers believing this will be closer than I do.
Feliciano Lopez reached the Final in Los Cabos and that comes after winning the title in Gstaad. I do think Lopez will enjoy the conditions in New York with the slightly quicker hard courts surely going to aid what is an effective serve, and Lopez did reach the Quarter Final here last year which highlights how good he can be on the surface.
As much as I do think Coric is going to be one of the top players on the ATP Tour in years to come, I am not sure he is quite there yet as he looks for the consistency to start moving up the World Rankings. The run in Cincinnati was a surprise considering the recent form Coric had displayed on the Tour, while Coric has also been defeated in the First Round at the last two Australian Open Grand Slam tournaments as well as the last US Open.
His serve can be strong at times, but Coric is never far away from throwing in a sloppy game too and I do think Lopez is going to be too strong. It might take four or even five sets, but I think Lopez will ultimately come through and also cover this small number.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Feliciano Lopez -1.5 Games @ 1.70 with Eastbridge Sports Betting Brokerage
Dominic Thiem v John Millman
This has been a career year for John Millman who has almost quadrupled the most number of wins he has had in a single season on the main Tour. You have to have a lot of respect for the way Millman has performed on the Tour as he makes use of every ounce of talent he possesses, but this is an opponent who is clearly stronger than Millman.
The Australian had a really strong run in Winston Salem last week, but he has been inconsistent on the hard courts through 2016 and was beaten in the First Round in Flushing Meadows last season. The confidence will be improved this time around and Millman has reached the Third Round at the Australian Open and Wimbledon in Grand Slam events already this season.
It hasn’t been the summer that Dominic Thiem would have expected after a really positive start to the 2016 season. The last twelve months has seen him improve markedly to the point of being a top 10 Ranked player, while Thiem has every chance of competing in the ATP World Tour Finals in November.
However he is just 1-4 on the Tour since Wimbledon and Thiem has not had a really deep run on the North American hard courts since a Quarter Final appearance in the Miami Masters in 2015. The sole victory did come against Millman though and I think the match up is one that Thiem should enjoy as he should be able to get plenty of returns in play and can use his superior groundstrokes to good effect.
In Cincinnati Thiem was a 7-5, 6-1 winner over Millman… I expect this to be a closer scoreline in the sets played, but Thiem to ultimately come through and cover this number.
HANDICAP BETTING PICK: Dominic Thiem -5.5 Games @ 1.79 with Unibet
Prices correct at time of writing.