US Open 2016 ATP Second Round Preview Novak Djokovic Versus Jiri Vesely

US Open

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The US Open second round gets underway on Wednesday and it is one to look forward to with some intriguing match-ups and potential sporting drama ahead. The Tennis Review previews the upcoming action featuring Novak Djokovic, Rafa Nadal, Marin Cilic, and Benoit Paire.

Novak Djokovic (1) Versus Jiri Vesely

Assessing Novak Djokovic’s form is always tough in the early rounds of a slam- the world No.1 does just what he needs to do to get through, saving his very best for the final stages.

Doing just what needed to be done is just what Djokovic did in his first round match versus Jerzy Janowicz. In a patchy performance, the top seed won the first set, dropped the second, and then lost just three more games as Janowicz’s erratic game and Djokovic’s consistency got the better of the former Wimbledon semi-finalist.

Djokovic may need to up his game early on this US Open for his second round opponent Jiri Vesely. The world No.49 beat him in Monte Carlo earlier this season and finishing that win off should give the 23 year old, playing in just his fourth US Open, some confidence against a Djokovic who may be at his most questionable, form-wise, since the Spring of 2014.

If the Junior world No.1 in 2011 can serve big, play the aggressive tennis he has committed to this season, and execute a strategy to take advantage of Djokovic’s left wrist injury, then he is in with a chance of the upset. The left handed Czech will have to be smart about it, and brave- Djokovic, whatever his personal problems off-court may be, whatever his injuries, will not give up his title without a fight, and if his body is struggling, his mentality is unlikely to fail him if the match comes down to mental toughness alone.

William Hill has Djokovic at 1/16 to beat Vesely, (Click on the link below to see the odds before and during the match) but while the Serbian  is the heavy favorite to make a statement win over his Monte Carlo conqueror, his Wimbledon loss to Sam Querrey, his heart-breaking Rio defeat to Juan Martin del Potro, and his recent Cincinnati withdrawal with injury mean the time is ripe for his rivals to upset him, and with Vesely capable of doing so, this match will be one to keep an eye on.

Tennis odds at William Hill page
Marin Cilic (7) Vs Sergei Stakhovsky

Cilic and Stakhovsky, ranked 92, both have big serves and are aggressive which means on fast hard courts this match could be a close one. Their previous matches have certainly been so- Cilic leads the head to head 4-0, their three best of three matches have all gone the distance, and their Wimbledon round of 64 match earlier this season  went to four sets.

Cilic’s better all-round game, especially his defense and return, is what makes the difference in this contest, and should see the seventh seed through to the US Open third round. The match is one to watch for those who like aggressive game styles and hard courts. Few players can hit the heights Cilic can on fast hard courts and if he is playing well, there will be plenty of winners to admire.

Cilic is also prone to lapsing in form and if Stakhovsky can take advantage of that then watching  2014 Champion Cilic fight to win at a tournament he is passionate about should be a great sight.

Rafa Nadal (4) Vs Andreas Seppi

These two veterans go back a long way- to the 2005 Davis Cup. Since then, Nadal has won seven of their eight contests, and in six of his wins has not dropped a set.

Don’t discount Seppi, though. The Italian turned round another dismal head to head when he beat Roger Federer at the 2015 Australian Open, and led Novak Djokovic by two sets to love in the 2012 Roland Garros last sixteen.

Seppi, who has won ATP titles on  can raise his game on his day, and if he gets into the match versus Nadal, once again on the road back from injury, he could play above his current ranking of 87 and make this a contest. While Seppi may not have the weapons stroke-wise to hurt Nadal, he does have a very consistent, solid game, and if Nadal, who has won just 5 of 8 matches since Roland Garros, (at Rio and Cincinnati), is below his best, like he was for some of his first round match versus Denis Istomin, in which he let a 4-1 second set lead slip, Seppi has the experience and the solid game to take him out.

If, however, Nadal hits his forehand like he did in his third set versus Istomin, then the match could be a boost to Nadal’s fans as he moves deeper into the draw and towards his projected semi-final clash with Djokovic.

Benoit Paire (32) Vs Marcos Baghdatis

Two players blessed with sublime talent and both cursed with, at times, ridiculous minds have a great chance to make the US Open third round. Paire, ranked 34, leads the head versus 44th ranked 2006 Australian Open runner-up Baghdatis 2-1, winning their last two matches.

After their opening US Open 2016 matches, Paire is 3-3 in main draw ATP matches this hard court season, and Baghdatis is 4-3. With two such unpredictable players facing one another, predicting the winner is tough. There is one thing almost for certain, though- when it comes to shot-making and risk-taking, this match will deliver entertainment-wise, and with both men tending to let leads slip, this match could be one of those early-round dramatic US Open five setters to remember.

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Christian Deverille

Christian Deverille is a tennis writer with a diploma in Freelance Sports Writing from the London School of Journalism. He loves all things tennis, most of all the Federer and del Potro forehands.

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