This article originally appeared on The Grandstand.
Second-round action will resume at the U.S. Open on Thursday, when what should be an entertaining affair takes place between Gael Monfils and Donald Young. Ricky Dimon of The Grandstand and Pete Ziebron of Tennis Acumen preview and predict four of the most intriguing matchups.
Taylor Fritz vs. (6) Dominic Thiem
Ricky: This is a marquee matchup that will get a lot of press coverage. The question is: does Fritz warrant it? Granted, he has a good excuse for being exactly 100 spots behind Thiem in the rankings (No. 108 to No. 8). He is 19 years old, whereas Thiem is 23. Fritz joked in his Wednesday interview that he is glad he does not have to face Thiem on clay. Unfortunately for the American, these courts are playing like clay. Thiem in 3: 6-3, 6-3, 7-6(6).
Pete: Thiem has significantly improved his ability to play competitive tennis on hard courts but is still seeking his first appearance beyond the round of 16 in a major outside of Roland Garros. Fritz finally won his first match at a major in his seventh attempt, defeating veteran Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets. Thiem exhibited near-flawless play on the Cincinnati hard courts two weeks ago in crushing Fabio Fognini amidst conditions that do not suit his game, as he explained to the press. With more a more favorable environment in New York, expect the Austrian to acknowledge–but yet mow dow–the young American as he has his sights on a deep run this year. Thiem in 3: 6-2 6-4 6-3.
Donald Young vs. (18) Gael Monfils
Ricky: Monfils and Young have faced each other twice before. One was a 6-1, 6-1 beatdown (in Monfils’ favor) and the other went to a final-set tiebreaker (won by Young). Expect something more in the middle this time around: competitive, but not an absolute thriller. The Frenchman is a heavy favorite, but he has taken a step back since 2016 whereas Young is playing some of the best tennis of his career. But the edge still goes to Monfils, because he put injury concerns to rest with a straight-set rout of Jeremy Chardy on Wednesday. Monfils in 4: 2-6, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4.
Pete: Monfils ripped 18 aces in a straight-set win over Chardy in the opening round, while Young found himself at a set apiece with Maximilian Marterer–a player making his debut at a major–before pulling away to begin his U.S. Open campaign in style. The American has yet to win consecutive matches on the North American hard courts in his previous four tournaments this summer, whereas Monfils seems to have put the questions about his Cincinnati withdrawal to rest. The Frenchman made quick work of his first five foes last year in New York and he may continue that same trend. Monfils in 3: 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-2.
Andrey Rublev vs. (7) Grigor Dimitrov
Ricky: This could be a situation similar to that of Thiem vs. Fritz. It’s a matchup with two on-the-rise players, but also two who are at very different points in there careers. Dimitrov has already been around for what seems like forever, while Rublev is really just starting out on tour. The Russian’s talent is undeniable, but he is not ready for the big stage against the reigning Cincinnati champion. Dimitrov in 3.
Pete: Life is good at the moment for Dimitrov, as he won the biggest tournament of his career a week and a half ago in Cincinnati. The Bulgarian has won 13 consecutive sets, counting his flawless run in Cincy as well as a straight-set victory on Wednesday. Rublev is beginning to develop on the ATP Tour, winning his first title a little more than a month ago and also notching his third win at a major this year in New York. While the young Russian will continue to show flashes of what we are likely to see in his game over the coming years, this contest will be no-contest as a determined Dimitrov continues to roll. Dimitrov in 3: 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.
Alexandr Dolgopolov vs. (15) Tomas Berdych
Ricky: Dolgopolov may be a bit distracted. The Ukrainian went through a fiery press conference on Wednesday that focused on accusations of possible match-fixing last week in Winston-Salem. There were no fixes in round one. Dolgopolov did well to battle past Winston-Salem semifinalist Jan-Lennard Struff in five sets. Berdych, meanwhile, finished off Ryan Harrison in straights. Berdych in 3: 6-3, 7-6(5), 6-1.
Pete: Even in years that he does not necessarily play his best, Berdych usually finds a way through the early rounds of a major and often plays deep into the second week. Surprisingly, it has taken Dolgopolov four years to record another win in New York; he finally advanced to the second round for the first time since 2013. However, he subsequently lost his next match that year and will do the same against Berdych. The Czech takes care of business yet again in week one, finally pulling away from Dolgopolov starting late in the third set. Berdych in 4: 7-5, 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.