There were plenty of intriguing first-round matches when the US Open draw was revealed on Thursday, led by a tantalizing clash between close friends Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis.
ATPTour.com highlights five games to watch in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
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No. 23 Nick Kyrgios vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
The “Special Ks” have been one of the most exciting doubles teams on the circuit this season. They started their season with a bang by winning the Australian Open. At the time, Kokkinakis said: “To be a Grand Slam champion with my boy, we’ve known each other since we were eight, nine years old, did serious things together, had serious experiences, but that’s unbelievable.”
Australians often refer to themselves as ‘brothers’, but only one can advance to the second round at Flushing Meadows. Their first-round clash will be their first ATP Head2Head meeting and their first match against each other since competing on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2014.
Kyrgios is one of the fittest players in the world. The 27-year-old showed the most consistency of his career to reach the final at Wimbledon, win the Washington title and advance to the quarter-finals in Montreal, where he knocked out world No. 1 Daniil Medvedev . However, no one on the Tour knows him better than Kokkinakis, who thrives on the big stages with his own aggressive game.
Kokkinakis’ resume includes a win over Roger Federer, and last year he pushed Stefanos Tsitsipas to five sets at the Australian Open. This makes for a hit showdown between the great friends.
No. 12 Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem will need to be sharp for his first US Open match since winning his first major trophy at Flushing Meadows two years ago. The Austrian will face 12th seed Pablo Carreno Busta, who recently won his maiden ATP Masters 1000 title in Montreal.
Thiem has struggled to find his best form since returning from a wrist injury in March. He has one thing on his side though: a 7-0 ATP Head2Head advantage against Carreno Busta. One such clash came at the US Open in 2016, when Thiem rallied for a four-set victory.
The form is tilting in the Spaniard’s direction after his Canadian breakthrough, and his solid baseline game will force the Austrian to deliver the spectacular winners he has so often hit throughout his career. Will Thiem be able to rely on his past to earn a first-round upset?
No. 24 Francisco Cerundolo vs. Andy Murray
A year ago, 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray suffered a heartbreaking first-round loss in New York to Tsitsipas. The Scot will have another chance to oust a top seed in the first round when he takes on 24th seed Francisco Cerundolo.
Murray showed signs of good form in Cincinnati, where he emerged victorious in a two-hour, 58-minute epic against Stan Wawrinka and pushed Cameron Norrie hard in the second round before cramps got the better of him.
But his first ATP Head2Head encounter against Cerundolo should prove tricky. Although the 24-year-old has lost three consecutive matches since reaching the semi-finals in Hamburg, the rising Argentine has already found success on hard courts. Earlier this year he rode a stunning run to the semi-finals in Miami with victories over stars such as Gael Monfils and Jannik Sinner.
No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz vs. Sebastian Baez
Last November, Carlos Alcaraz met Sebastian Baez in the semi-finals of the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals. Alcaraz was world number 32 and Baez number 111. Ten months later, the two men have come a long way. Alcaraz is the third seed at the US Open and Baez was the last player not to be seeded.
In their first encounter, Alcaraz beat Milan 4-2, 4-1, 4-2. His powerful game is capable of blowing up all opponents. Baez is very aggressive himself, however, and he will try to bring it to the Spaniard to play on his own terms.
The Argentine is 1-3 against the top 10 opponents with his win coming in the Bastad semi-final against Andrey Rublev. Can Baez pull off another big win against Alcaraz?
No. 14 Diego Schwartzman vs. Jack Sock
There are few fans in the world like those in New York at the US Open. Jack Sock, who is thrilling crowds around the world with his flashy game, will try to use it to his advantage against 14th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The duo’s only meeting was in 2017 on clay at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, where Sock won in three sets. Since then, both men have spent time in the World Top 10 and proven their ability against the best players on the Tour. Sock will try to dominate the action with his forehand and speed down the court, while Schwartzman has almost no weaknesses and will try to attack the American’s backhand.
Schwartzman is a two-time quarter-finalist at the US Open. The favorite will try to avoid an early release this edition of the last major of the year.