All third round matches will be played on Thursday at the 2019 Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. World No.1 Novak Djokovic will play Pablo Carreno Busta for a quarterfinal berth, among other matches. (We’re also predicting the rest of Thursday’s matches.) Who will prevail?
ATP Cincinnati Thursday Predictions
Lucas Pouille vs Karen Khachanov
Head-to-head: Khachanov 2-1
Khachanov is coming from a great Montreal campaign where he reached the semifinals, beating Stan Wawrinka, Felix Auger-Aliassime, and Alexander Zverev along the way. In his opening match in Cincinnati, the Russian drew Nick Kyrgios and won 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 in a weird match where–after the Russian failed to serve out the first set–the Australian was heard saying that had Khachanov held that game, he would have retired due to calf pain–among plenty more insanity.
Pouille hasn’t done much since reaching the Australian Open semifinal back in January. However, he can take control of the match and catch fire out of nowhere. So far he has advanced with routine wins over Denis Kudla and Denis Shapovalov. However, he will face a big step up in competition here.
Both play a similar, attacking baseline style. In that kind of matchup, on current form, Khachanov should be the one to hit the ball harder and better.
Prediction: Khachanov in 3
Miomir Kecmanovic vs Roberto Bautista Agut
Head-to-head: First meeting
It’s been a brilliant year for the 19-year-old Serbian. After reaching the quarterfinals at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (lost to Raonic), Kecmanovic also managed to get to his maiden ATP final at Antalya. There are four matches under his belt here in Cincinnati already. He defeated Antoine Hoang and Feliciano Lopez to come out of the qualifying draw, and then upset both Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev to reach the third round.
It doesn’t get easier for Miomir Kecmanovic as he will need to play a recent Wimbledon semifinalist and Australian Open quarterfinalist Bautista Agut. The Spaniard is playing stellar tennis this season and he had a good run to the quarterfinals in Montreal (defeated Tomic, Schwartzman, Gasquet, lost to Monfils). You gotta do a lot more than just keep the ball in the rallies to win against Bautista Agut, and Kecmanovic’s lack of weapons will show.
Prediction: Bautista Agut in 2
David Goffin vs Adrian Mannarino
Head-to-head: Goffin 4-1
The Frenchman took the pair’s last meeting two months ago at the Libema Open (grass court), but Goffin has a perfect record against his three-years-older opponent on hard courts. Aside from the aforementioned Wimbledon warm-up event, Mannarino’s year has been pretty disastrous, but he’s putting it back together with good results on the U.S. hard court swing. After reaching the third round in Montreal, the Frenchman lost just nine games dispatching Christian Garin and Mikhail Kukushkin to set up a meeting with David Goffin in the Round of 16 here.
Goffin had a great grass-court season, reaching the finals in Halle and a quarterfinal at Wimbledon. But he has struggled to make an impact in his first two American hard court tournaments, dropping his opening matches to Yoshihito Nishioka and Guido Pella. In Cincinnati so far, the Belgian has avenged the Pella loss and beaten Taylor Fritz in a tight three-setter. Having lost just one set in their four previous meetings on this surface, Goffin will enter this match with plenty of confidence. With his aggressive, crisp, on-the-rise ball-striking, the Belgian has all the tools to dismantle Mannarino’s tricky game.
Prediction: Goffin in 3
Novak Djokovic vs Pablo Carreno Busta
Head-to-head: Djokovic 2-0
The Spaniard qualified for the tournament before topping Gilles Simon and John Isner in a dramatic deciding tie-break. Cincinnati is just his third hard court tournament this year, first after the Australian Open, as he missed the Sunshine Double due to injury. Carreno Busta has played Djokovic twice, both times in the round of 16 at a Masters 1000 event in Monte Carlo.
The World No.1 is playing his first event since capturing a fifth Wimbledon title a month ago. On Tuesday, the Serbian dismantled Sam Querrey, 7-5 6-1, winning 37% of first serve return points. It will be a different match against Carreno Busta, who plays a somewhat similar style to Djokovic. The Spaniard is at his best in extended rallies. To even keep it close against the 16-time Grand Slam champion, the Spaniard will have to leave his comfort zone. However, over a longer period of games, Carreno Busta just doesn’t possess enough firepower to trouble the defending champion
Prediction: Djokovic in 2
Main Photo from Getty.
Disagree with our ATP Cincinnati Thursday Predictions? As always, feel free to leave your thoughts in the comments.