There's a mix of mismatches and even-looking matches on the Friday schedule at the US Open in the men's tournament. Dan Weston previews the action...
"Tsitsipas has struggled through to this stage, playing nine sets in matches lasting around 7.5 hours so far combined, and my concern around him surrounds that potential accumulated fatigue."
Musetti covers handicap to give us a Thursday triumph
Things went well for us yesterday, with Lorenzo Musetti covering the +5.5 game handicap against Reilly Opelka despite going down in three straight sets. Predictably, there wasn't an abundance of break point chances in a predictably serve-orientated match, and it could have been even better for Musetti if he was able to convert any of his four break point chances.
As has been the case in both the men's and the women's tournament, heavy favourites have dominated with few shocks. Matteo Berrettini, Jannik Sinner, Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic were among those overwhelming pre-match favourites who got the job done without too much fuss.
On what is a polarised card today featuring a number of players who it would be a huge surprise if they were defeated, as well as some even-money type matches, here's some thoughts on those heavy favourites.
Pablo Andujar 44.0043/1 v Daniil Medvedev 1.021/50: Second seed Medvedev has eased into round three, dropping just 15 games across six sets so far, winning all six sets. On hard court, arguably today's opponent Andujar is actually a downgrade on his previous opposition - Richard Gasquet and Dominik Koepfer - with the Spanish clay-courter having done well to get to this stage with two underdog victories so far.
To illustrate Andujar's lack of hard court prowess, the 35-year-old has only ever reached the third round of a hard court Slam once before in his entire career, and I think this illustrates the clear ability differential between him and one of the favourites for this competition. The market pricing shows this, and I agree with the market.
Molcan taking good form into Schwartzman clash
Alex Molcan 5.309/2 v Diego Schwartzman 1.222/9: Challenger Tour regular Molcan has done well to reach this stage having qualified, although only really Brandon Nakashima - who he beat in a shock five-set win in round two - was a strong opponent. The Slovak has had some injury issues as well, but has won his last ten matches, so definitely shouldn't be underestimated.
However, the Argentine, Schwartzman, has got to this stage with solid straight-set wins over Kevin Anderson and Ricardas Berankis, and as with Medvedev against Andujar, the favourite here could actually be facing a downgrade in opposition. While Schwartzman does his best work on clay, he's a solid hard courter and it would be a surprise if he wasn't able to get the job done here against Molcan.
Carlos Alcaraz Garfia 5.104/1 v Stefanos Tsitsipas 1.232/9: Tsitsipas is the heavy favourite here, but rather like we discussed in previous rounds, he looks short-priced. This looks clearly the case against a young player with an extremely high ceiling, who has already picked up several decent wins in the tournament so far.
Tsitsipas has struggled through to this stage, playing nine sets in matches lasting around 7.5 hours so far combined, and my concern around him surrounds that potential accumulated fatigue. Numbers make Tsitsipas short, and this other concern reinforces that point of view.
The Exchange market is still forming for the game handicap options, but we should be able to get around 1.855/6 on Alcaraz Garfia with a 6.5 game head start in the run-up to the match, and I like this line.
Auger-Aliassime with slight edge for even-money match-up
Roberto Bautista-Agut 1.9520/21 v Felix Auger-Aliassime 2.021/1: The market is finding it tough to split the duo, who have 12 years between them in age. My numbers rate the 21-year-old, Auger-Aliassime, higher - he has better hard court numbers over the last year although slightly worse in the last few months from a smaller sample. I make the Canadian a marginal favourite here.
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