US Open Best Bets: Mensik vs Droguet, Ruud vs Zhang

US Open Best Bets: Mensik vs Droguet, Ruud vs Zhang article feature image

Xinhua News Agency/Getty. Pictured: Zhizhen Zhang.

Round 2 is upon us at the US Open, and the spotlight narrows as 64 players remain.

Two encounters in particular catch my eye with betting value.

The high-octane face-off between Zhizhen Zhang and Casper Ruud offers a tantalizing blend of raw talent and established prowess. Similarly, the promising Jakub Mensik and Titouan Droguet are set to provide a great look into two future top tennis players.

With each player having so much on the line, predictions are anything but straightforward. So, without further ado, let's dive into my US Open best bets for Mensik vs Droguet and Ruud vs Zhang.

Note: Match times are subject to change. Read here for tips on viewing US Open matches.

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Mensik (-145) vs Droguet (+120)

2:50 p.m. ET

At the tender ages of 17 and 22, both Mensik and Droguet are carving out their own legacies.

Droguet has made waves, not only navigating a tough qualifying draw but also orchestrating a major upset by defeating Lorenzo Musetti. While his forte is the clay court, he showcased his hard court abilities by reaching the final in his sole other hard court event this year.

But Mensik is making a compelling case for himself. Also coming through the qualifiers, he boasts an impressive 26-3 record on hard courts over the past year, primarily on the ITF circuit.

His game, packed with powerful groundstrokes, saw him ease past a top 60 opponent in his opening round. The power he possesses will leave him well-equipped to hit through Droguet's clay court-centric style.

Projecting future potential over current form is always a gamble, but Mensik's evident talent is hard to overlook. Their similar rankings notwithstanding, Mensik's slight favoritism in the odds feels justified. Having both marked their Grand Slam debuts with victories, I will be trusting Mensik to extend his maiden slam run.

Pick: Mensik ML (-145 via DraftKings)

Ruud (-525) vs Zhang (+280)

5 p.m. ET

Ruud, ranked fifth globally, is a paradox of sorts. His journey to the US Open final last year and another final stint at Roland Garros this year would suggest dominance. However, every tennis fan knows he has some of the most inconsistent results on tour. The ferocity that once characterized his serve seems to have diminished, and his lethal forehand now lacks its former dictatorial might.

Enter Zhang. Currently ranked 67th, just a touch below his career-best 52nd from July, Zhang’s rank belies his potential. His game whispers of top 20 talent, with robust groundstrokes on both sides, a commanding serve and the skill to seal points at the net.

Yet, Zhang’s Achilles' heel isn’t his skill, but his mindset. A flashback to his performance in last year’s US Open or his recent nerve-wracking five-setter highlights this vulnerability.

But here’s the twist. As the underdog against a top five player, expectations on Zhang diminish, potentially lightening his mental burden. Given Ruud's wavering consistency and Zhang's potential to play without shackles, I expect Zhang to clinch at least a set.

Pick: Zhang to win at least one set (-135 via DraftKings)

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