The U.S. Open rolls along Wednesday with another full slate of tennis from Flushing Meadows.
With four former Grand Slam champions in action — Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro — as well as fan favorites Dominic Thiem and Denis Shapovalov, tennis fans have quite a day in store.
The weather should also be vicious once again, so make sure you pay extra attention to fitness levels. One day after six men retired (five due to heat), conditions may actually get worse, with the heat index projected to hit triple digits for most of this afternoon.
From a betting perspective, I’ve got my eye on two daily hitters that I feel offer some value on a stacked schedule. Let’s take a closer look at the pair, starting with a rematch of a March match between two young guns in Miami that didn’t end on the friendliest terms.
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Stefanos Tsitsipas (-135) vs. Daniil Medvedev (+115)
Time: 11 a.m. ET
H2H: Medvedev leads 1-0 (hard court)
These two young players met earlier in the year in Miami, where Medvedev got the better of the young Greek. However, Tsitsipas did take the first set and looked like the the stronger player before hitting a wall in the second set. The two then exchanged words after the match; expect both temperatures and tempers to be flaring for this one.
That match also came before Tsitsipas really broke through on tour. Over the past few months, Tsitsipas has strung together some of his best tennis to work his way into the top 15.
I think there’s a good amount of value at this price with Tsitsipas, who has a more reliable serve and more precise game off the ground. The key shot in this match will be the Tsitsipas inside-in forehand to Medvedev’s forehand.
Since most of Medvedev’s power comes from his backhand wing, I expect Tsitsipas to keep the ball to Medvedev’s forehand, which breaks down with much greater frequency. I also like the variety Tsitsipas has recently added to his game. That should keep Medvedev from getting too comfortable on the baseline.
And the last factor that stuck out to me here is Medvedev’s potential energy issues. Meddy just won a tournament last week in Winston-Salem and has barely had any time to recover. In what should be oppressively hot playing conditions, fitness could become an issue for the young Russian — especially if this match goes four or five sets.
With fresher legs (and more recent consistency), I’ll take Tsitsipas at -135.
The Pick: Stefanos Tsitsipas -135
Andy Murray (-160) vs. Fernando Verdasco (+140)
Time: 1:15 p.m. ET
H2H: Murray leads 13-1 (9-1 on hard courts)
I think this is a good spot for Verdasco, who always fancies a big upset.
Murray limps into this match after needing four tight sets to overcome James Duckworth. Meanwhile, Verdasco disposed of his first-round opponent, Feliciano Lopez, without much sweat.
Ultimately, this match comes down to Murray’s fitness (or lack thereof, as he’s still finding his legs after returning from injury). I’m just not sure he can play at a level required to contain Verdasco’s A-game (assuming he brings it).
Since his return, Murray’s timing has not yet looked right from the baseline — likely as a result of being a step or two slow in getting to balls. Against a guy like Verdasco, who looks to play on his front foot to push his opponents around, Murray will have to play a lot of defense. And I’m not sure he’s in the physical state to survive that type of match — especially in brutal conditions.
This just isn’t the same Murray who has owned Verdasco in the past — accumulating a dominant 13-1 record against the Spaniard. The only win for Verdasco? A five-set defeat of the Scot in 2009 at the Australian Open.
Given Murray’s form and fitness, I’m willing to bet against history and take a shot on Verdasco (at plus-money) to notch his second hard-court Grand Slam victory over Murray..
The Pick: Fernando Verdasco +140