US Open Picks Today | Ben Shelton vs Aslan Karatsev, Tommy Paul vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (September 1)

US Open Picks Today | Ben Shelton vs Aslan Karatsev, Tommy Paul vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (September 1) article feature image

Sarah Stier/Getty. Pictured: Tommy Paul.

The third round of the US Open kicks off on Friday, and with it we'll see two of the more exciting American men do battle in some difficult matches.

Let's get into how to bet Ben Shelton vs Aslan Karatsev and Tommy Paul vs Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. Here are my US Open picks today.

Match times are subject to change. Read here for advice on viewing US Open matches.

US Open Picks Today

Ben Shelton (-155) vs Aslan Karatsev (+125)

12:15 p.m. ET

This one's a pretty tricky match to call. In theory, Karatsev should really win this match. His reactions on return are some of the best in the world, and against a glorified serve-bot you'd pick the skilled returner every time.

On top of that, you have to say Karatsev has looked great thus far at this tournament. In round one, he went for 32 winners against just 25 unforced errors in a straight-sets win over Jiri Lehecka and in round two he made 54 unforced errors but crushed a ridiculous 83 winners in four sets. Unforced errors have always been the Achilles heel for Karatsev; when he's been able to play cleaner tennis he's been nearly unbeatable through the years.

Everything points to Karatsev in this match, but I'm skeptical he can actually finish the job against Shelton in front of what should be an electric crowd for the American. Though the matchup is completely different this time around, this match takes me back to the third round a couple of years ago when Karatsev was playing the best tennis of his career but ultimately succumbed to a crowd favorite in the third round when he lost to American Jenson Brooksby. He looked in control until it came time to put away his opponent, and at that point he tightened up and let the match get away.

I think the best way to play this one is by taking Karatsev to cover the games spread. I think he should play better than Shelton for the majority of this one and should have no issues covering. The American didn't look at his best in an abbreviated match against Dominic Thiem, making far too many physical and mental errors.

Pick: Karatsev +2.5 games (-120)

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Tommy Paul (-120) vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina (+100)

12 p.m. ET

This will be a tough one for American Tommy Paul to get through. Davidovich Fokina has made the fourth round here at the US Open twice in three main-draw appearances, beating some quality opponents along the way. He also took a two sets-to-one lead over Paul at the Australian Open this season, only for Paul to erase the deficit and win in five.

Then, these two met in Miami in the spring. Davidovich Fokina managed to serve at a solid 61% only to win just 63% on his first serve, coughing up four breaks to Paul in an easy 6-3, 7-5 victory at the Masters 1000 event. That match confirmed for me that Paul is the better player, and I expect him to prevail in the third round on Friday.

The Spaniard made 33 unforced errors to just 28 winners in a win over Marcos Giron in the first round and was lucky enough to face arguably the weakest player in the draw days later when he dusted the moon-balling Juan Manuel Cerundolo in straight sets.

I don't think Davidovich Fokina has played particularly well at this tournament to this point and for the season he has been an underwhelming 29-23. I think he'll have to raise his level significantly to win this match, and the opponent couldn't be a tougher one. Paul's all-world defense should really make the difference here and extract the errors out of the Spaniard's racquet.

Paul, feeding off of a supportive crowd and some errors from Fokina, should ultimately take this one.

Pick: Paul ML (-120)

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