The Western & Southern Open second round comes to a close in Cincinnati on Wednesday when those who were not fortunate enough to play their match on Tuesday do so in order to finalise the last 16 lineup.
Wednesday is a day where we get to see a number of players for the first time this week including Novak Djokovic, for whom plenty of eyes will be on as he plays on an American hard court for the first time since Covid.
There are two men’s matches on the Center Court on Wednesday, one in the day session and one in the night session. The day session clash will see the Los Cabos champion Stefanos Tsitsipas look to put his opening match defeat in Toronto behind him when he meets the rising American player Ben Shelton. Novak Djokovic will headline the evening session when he opens up the action to take on an Alejandro Davidovich Fokina who has enjoyed a few wins over the last couple of weeks and who might be dangerous with a free hit here.
Three of the men’s matches take place on the Grandstand court and they begin with the number three seed Daniil Medvedev looking to move into the round of 16. The Russian will go up against Lorenzo Musetti before the Toronto champion from last week, Jannik Sinner, begins his quest for the Canada-Cincinnati Masters 1000 double when he takes on the qualifier Dusan Lajovic. They are all from the day session and the night session sees the home player Frances Tiafoe looking to make real progress when he meets Stan Wawrinka in a marquee match.
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The other seven matches take place on Court 3 and Court 4 with Tommy Paul opening up the action on the former when he meets Ugo Humbert before Taylor Fritz goes up against Lorenzo Sonego. Borna Coric continues the defence of his title in the other match as he meets the dangerous Hubert Hurkacz. Over on Court 4, Alexander Zverev gets us up and running when he plays Yoshihito Nishioka before the qualifier Max Purcell takes on Casper Ruud. Gael Monfils and Alex de Minaur both enjoyed good weeks in Toronto last week and they face off in the third match before Holger Rune and Mackenzie McDonald close out the show.
I’ll go with a couple of bets over the course of Wednesday as we look to build on the perfect 4-0 start we have made to this tournament. The first one comes in the form of Gael Monfils to cover the handicap against Alex de Minaur. The Australian has caught fire recently, reaching the final of Los Cabos and Toronto but two weeks of constant grinding has to take its toll eventually even on him and Monfils might be the man to get the better of him. I certainly expect the Frenchman to give de Minaur a good battle anyway. Monfils won their only previous meeting which was here two years ago and did so in straight sets. The only matches de Minaur has lost in the last couple of weeks have been to Stefanos Tsitsipas and Jannik Sinner and ‘la Monf’ plays a similar energetic, clean hitting game. If Monfils can get a few clean winners away to build the confidence he could be a tough nut to crack here.
The other bet I like comes in the night session where Stan Wawrinka is a big price to beat Frances Tiafoe. I’m not sure quite how much the head-to-head in this one means given that Wawrinka is coming back to the top of the game and Tiafoe has never been ranked higher than in the last few months but the fact it is 3-0 to the Swiss, two of which were on a hard court, does feel kind of relevant to me. What is relevant is Tiafoe does not look comfortable on the court with a lead at the minute. He threw a one set lead away against Milos Raonic in Toronto last week and almost did the same against Tallon Griekspoor in the first round here. Wawrinka might be a fading force in the game but the one thing legends never lose is their ability to perform in the big pressure moments. Wawrinka clearly knows which areas of the Tiafoe game to target and he feels like a big price in a match I have down as a lot more even than the odds makers.
Back G.Monfils (+3.5 games) to beat A.de Minaur for a 3/10 stake at 1.91 with Boylesports
Back him here:
Back S.Wawrinka to beat F.Tiafoe for a 3/10 stake at 2.63 with Bet365
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