2021 U.S. Open Odds, Picks, Preview For Monday: Can Brooksby Extend Match vs. Djokovic? (Sept. 6)
Al Bello/Getty Images. Pictured: Jenson Brooksby
- Round of 16 action rolls on at the 2021 U.S. Open on Monday, and several longshots will look to continue their cinderella runs.
- Our staff is targeting one short underdog, and one huge underdog in Jenson Brooksby to give Novak Djokovic some trouble.
The second week of the U.S. Open is upon us, and with it comes a host of fourth round matchups.
Here’s how our staff is playing a duo of matches on the men’s side at the Billie Jean King Tennis Center.
Reilly Opelka (-120) vs. Lloyd Harris (-110)
Kenny Ducey: It’s time once again for everyone to fall in love with Lloyd Harris and bet him down towards a pick ‘em. Except me.
The South African has had a couple hot weeks this year, going to the final in Dubai and again running to the quarterfinals in Washington, D.C. with a win over a hobbled Rafael Nadal along the way.
Each time, Harris backers have been humbled. The tall, big-serving youngster ran into a beast in Aslan Karatsev in Dubai and was handled by Kei Nishikori at the Citi Open. While he’s had some nice weeks, he’s yet to sustain a run at the main level, and it points to the fact that he’s played some weaker competition. His biggest win this year, aside the match against Rafa, is Denis Shapovalov, who he’s now beaten twice. It’s not as if Shapovalov is bad, but he’s a very good matchup for Harris with plenty of errors in his pocket every time he takes the court.
Anyway, I’m here to throw cold water on Harris, who is still very one-dimensional as a player.
Harris fell to Reilly Opelka not too long ago in Toronto, when he was playing some of the best tennis I’ve seen him play. Opelka came into that match struggling a bit, and actually admitted out loud during a walk to the chair at one point that Harris was impossible to beat. With Opelka now playing a whole lot better, I think we should see a repeat result. He’s been winning some extended rallies against pretty good groundstrokers, and if he can take down the likes of Nikoloz Basilashivili and Lorenzo Musetti from the baseline, he should have no issues handling Harris.
These surfaces are playing a lot like the quick courts in Toronto and should make life very difficult on Harris. With the crowd firmly on the American’s side, I think he’s worth the wager here.
Pick: Reilly Opelka -120 (PointsBet)
Novak Djokovic (-10000) vs. Jenson Brooksby (+1600)
7 p.m. ET
Kenny Ducey: Speaking of having the crowd on your side, the fans at Arthur Ashe will be delirious on Monday night in cheering on great American hope Jenson Brooksby. The 20-year-old has had arguably one of the best years on tour, starting out by dominating some Challengers and immediately making an impact on the courts in America this summer on the main draw.
There aren’t many weaknesses in Brooksby’s game, who is one of the smartest tennis players you will find in the world, and an incredibly hard worker on the court. His defensive skills are sublime, and he pulls out incredible shots in big moments. The one knock on the American is his lack of power; he’s struggled this year against some of the bigger hitters on tour, and also serves up a hittable first serve.
While in theory a good returner like Novak Djokovic should be a huge issue for Brooksby, I think this is a pretty great matchup for the American. Djokovic doesn’t hit the ball with much pace, which should allow Brooksby the chance to get into some cat-and-mouse exchanges with the Serb. That’s where he thrives, particularly at the net, and I think he should be able to bother the World No. 1 a bit early.
It’s a stretch to say Brooksby will win this match outright, or even win two sets, but I do think he has the ability to push Djokovic to go over this total.
Pick: Over 27.5 games -120 (DraftKings)
Avery Zimmerman: To echo Kenny’s sentiment, Brooksby is a gamer. He isn’t going to come into this match afraid of Djokovic or what he can do. He is going to come in with the mindset that he can go in and win a match.
He probably won’t do that, but what he can do is fight with the best of them, and he has an all-around game that has the potential to stand up against Djokovic.
Whether it be in backhand-to-backhand rallies, cat-and-mouse points or in returning serve, Brooksby is capable of engaging with Djokovic and not feeling out of sorts. The Sacramento native has the ability to stay calm and maintain patience in the inevitable grueling rallies with the best player in the world, unlike many players with much more experience.
Best of all, Brooksby is absolutely going to feed off of the New York crowd, as he’s been doing all tournament. He’s exactly the type of player that loves the energy a big crowd gives him, as he displayed in all three of his first round wins. This is a guy that gets fired up, and the crowd will be willing to give him that energy.
Back Brooksby to push Djokovic and make it a battle.
Pick: Over 27.5 games -120 (DraftKings)