ATP Cologne Indoors 2020: Men’s singles draw analysis, preview and predictions

Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev could meet in the second round of the bett1HULKS Indoors in Cologne.

We break down the men’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Alexander Zverev, Andy Murray and Roberto Bautista Agut lead the field at the bett1HULKS Indoors in Cologne, Germany, a new ATP 250.

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ATP Cologne Indoors Preview

A new addition to the tennis calendar in 2020 for one year only, back-to-back ATP 250 events will be played on indoor hard courts in Cologne, Germany at the Lanxness Arena.

The bett1HULKS Indoors will be played from 12-18 October, followed by the bett1HULKS Championships.

With players eager to seize any chance to compete before the decimated 2020 season comes to an end, the bett1HULKS Indoors has attracted a strong field led by world no. 7 Alexander Zverev and world no. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut, with Andy Murray taking a wildcard into the tournament.

ATP Cologne 250 tournament information, seeds, schedule and live streaming information

ATP Cologne Indoors Draw Analysis

Top Half

There will be fireworks from the first round in Cologne with wildcard Andy Murray drawn to face Fernando Verdasco, with the winner moving on to face top seed Zverev.

Murray beat Zverev at the ‘Cincinnati’ Masters in just his second match since the previous November, but the German has made the US Open final since then – and Murray would have to beat Verdasco to get to that clash. The Spanish left-hander, most recently in the news for announcing he intends to sue the French Open for not letting him play, is 4-13 against Murray but has won their last two matches (since Murray’s hip injury).

Zverev and Verdasco have also played some close matches, so this won’t be easy for the world no. 7. Nor will be a potential quarterfinal clash with Filip Krajinovic, the big-serving Serbian who plays well indoors – he made the final of the Paris Masters in 2017 – and who has been having decent results recently.

The second quarter is more open with mercurial Benoit Paire, who is 1-5 since shutdown, and Marin Cilic its seeds. Cilic has eight titles on indoor hard courts but is searching for form; if the 2014 US Open champion can get past Ricardas Berankis, a good player on indoor hard, in the first round, he faces Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the second and should be secure into the semifinals.

Bottom half

Germany’s best prospects in the draw apart from Zverev are in the third quarter, with big-serving Jan-Lennard Struff the seventh seed. Struff had a poor run on clay but he was playing decently on hard courts in the USA; he opens against Mikael Ymer with Radu Albot, against whom Struff is 4-1, likely to await in the second round.

Struff was knocked out of the French Open by compatriot Daniel Altmaier, the qualifier who made a big impression when he ousted Matteo Berrettini on his way to the last 16. Altmaier, given a wildcard into Cologne, could meet Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round.
Auger-Aliassime made back-to-back ATP finals on indoor hard courts in the spring, but has had poor results of late – can he find form in a switch of surface?

Just one of world no. 10 Roberto Bautista Agut’s career titles have come on indoor hard courts but he’s made several finals. He doesn’t have an easy draw though: Veteran Gilles Simon or Marton Fucsovics, who just made a good run to the fourth round of Roland Garros, in the second round. If Bautista Agut can get past that, big-serving Hubert Hurkacz shouldn’t be too much of a problem.

ATP Cologne Indoors Prediction

Semifinals:

Zverev vs Cilic
Bautista Agut d. Struff

Final:

Zverev d. Bautista Agut

Can Novak Djokovic deny Rafael Nadal a thirteenth French Open title?

We break down the men’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem lead the draw at the 2020 US Open.

Rafael Nadal faces Novak Djokovic in the French Open final on Sunday 11 October – read our match analysis and predictions here.

French Open 2020: Preview

No man has ever ruled the French Open, also known as Roland Garros, like 12-time champion Nadal, who has only ever lost two matches there.

But the 2020 French Open will be different – it’s being played in chilly, damp autumn instead of the sunshine and heat of June, and at best only limited spectators will be allowed, with players enclosed in a bio-security bubble.

Can Nadal adapt to these new conditions, and his own lack of match practice, or will one of his challengers wrest the Coupe des Mousquetaires from his grasp?

US Open Semifinals

Novak Djokovic (1) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (5), 5pm local/4pm BST

World no. 1 Novak Djokovic faces Stefanos Tsitsipas, playing his second Grand Slam semifinal, as Djokovic attempts to reach the final of the French Open for the fifth time.

Djokovic comes into the match with physical concerns, having struggled in his quarterfinal against Pablo Carreno Busta. Djokovic took to the court with his neck taped and clearly suffering from pain and stiffness in his left arm. He dropped the first set to Carreno Busta – the first set he has lost in the tournament – but won 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-4 and said afterwards that the pain faded as his body warmed up.

Read full match analysis and get head-to-head stats and more on Djokovic vs Tsitsipas.

Tsitsipas, in contrast, looked just the right combination of relaxed and intense as he faced Andrey Rublev in what was not just the Greek’s first Grand Slam quarterfinal since his initial breakthrough semifinal run at the Australian Open in 2019, but a rematch of the Hamburg Open final which Tsitsipas had served for and then ended up losing a few weeks before. But a polished performance by Tsitsipas saw him claim his first win over Rublev in four attempts, his all-court game leaving the Russian looking one-dimensional and his backhand standing up to the Rublev forehand better than it has before.

Tsitsipas has beaten Djokovic before, but not on clay, and most crucially not over the best-of-five sets. Djokovic has obvious physical concerns, but even if he loses the first set against Tsitsipas, he’ll always be favoured to play his way into the match. You can’t say the same for Tsitsipas.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs Diego Schwartzman (12), 2.50pm local/1.50pm BST

Nadal has never won the French Open when he came in without winning a title on clay, although that stat is a little misleading – all bets are off in this strangest season, after all (though not literally). He has still only lost two matches at Roland Garros, and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that although he played abysmally in losing to Schwartzman in Rome, the 12-time champion has had exactly the draw he needs to play himself in.

Nadal dropped only 23 games in reaching the quarterfinals, beating Egor Gerasimov, Mackenzie McDonald, Stefano Travaglia and young qualifier Sebastian Korda all without turning a hair, pretty much; and he’s adapted his game to the slower, colder conditions, flattening out the cross-court backhand in particular. His sternest test of the tournament came against 19-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner, who had eliminated David Goffin in the first round and Alexander Zverev in the fourth; Sinner served for the first set, had a break lead in the second, but still lost in straight sets, Nadal winning 7-6(4), 6-4, 6-1.

Read full match analysis and get live streaming information for Nadal vs Schwartzman.

Meanwhile, Diego Schwartzman earlier that day played for over five hours to knock out Dominic Thiem, in a match which was both a very impressive win – Thiem was looking for his fifth straight semifinal or better at the French Open – and also something of a missed opportunity for Schwartzman, who arguably could and should have won in straight sets.

If he had, he would have been at less of a physical disadvantage coming into the semifinal against Nadal, although both players do have two days to recover.

Schwartzman beat Nadal in Rome in straight sets, his first victory over the Spaniard in ten attempts. But it’s difficult to see him repeating the feat. Nadal served abysmally in Rome, and didn’t play well off the ground, while Schwartzman was inspired and aggressive. If Nadal plays even 20% better, Schwartzman will be forced back off the court and unable to dictate and the match will follow familiar patterns – the Argentine could come out and absolutely redline for a set and maybe take it, but will be unable to keep up the pressure over the best of five.

French Open 2020: Prediction

Semifinals:

Djokovic d. Tsitsipas
Nadal d. Schwartzman

Final:

Nadal d. Djokovic

Alexander Zverev must beat talented Italian teenager Jannik Sinner if he is to reach a third straight French Open quarterfinal.

Zverev vs Sinner is live from Roland Garros on Sunday 4 October, 1pm local/12pm BST

US Open finalist Alexander Zverev survived a five-set battle in the second round and is now within touching distance of his third appearance in the French Open quarterfinals – and a possible clash with Rafael Nadal.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

But before he can start thinking about facing the 12-time champion, Zverev has to find a way past Jannik Sinner, the 19-year-old Italian looking for the third top-10 win of his career.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Zverev vs Sinner live

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Zverev vs Sinner: Head-to-head

This will be the first meeting between Alexander Zverev and Jannik Sinner.

Zverev vs Sinner: Preview

Alexander Zverev’s second-round match at the French Open was reminiscent of many we’ve seen him play before: Puzzlingly passive, a bit error-strewn, seemingly reluctant to impose himself on the match and letting a lower-ranked opponent drag him the distance, in this case Pierre-Hugues Herbert, before outlasting them for the win.

Zverev redeemed himself, however, with a straight-sets victory in the third round over former semifinalist Marco Cecchinato – a potentially dangerous opponent – keeping focus throughout the match to record a 6-1, 7-5, 6-3 win. That’s more like the Zverev we saw at the Australian Open (where he also beat Cecchinato, incidentally) who record straight-sets wins over the likes of Andrey Rublev and Fernando Verdasco to make the semifinals.

This is already the best year Zverev has had at Grand Slam level, with his Australian Open semifinal run and his runner-up finish at the US Open, and the German hasn’t seemed to be too affected by the memory of having served for the title in New York before losing to Dominic Thiem in a fifth-set tie-break. Against Cecchinato, he served ten aces and only five double faults (good by his standards), lost just seven points on first serve and saved one of the two break points he faced; that’s a good serving performance which, if he repeats, will make life very difficult for Jannik Sinner.

Jannik Sinner (Credit Image: © Benoit Doppagne/Belga via ZUMA Press)

Sinner is looking for the third top-10 victory of his young career after beating David Goffin in Rotterdam in February and Stefanos Tsitsipas in Rome recently. The Next Gen ATP Finals champion repeated his Rotterdam victory over Goffin – now ranked world no. 13 – in the first round 7-5, 6-0, 6-3 and still hasn’t dropped a set in wins over Benjamin Bonzi and Federico Coria to make the fourth round of his very first French Open.

The young Italian is fearless, and his game is impressive: Plenty of power which could quite easily rock Zverev back on his heels, if he lets it. But he also struggled physically in his first-round match against Karen Khachanov at the US Open, which saw him lose in a fifth-set tie-break after leading by two sets to love. The temptation will be there for Zverev to try to outlast him, but that would just be asking for trouble: He needs to impose himself on Sinner. That starts with good serving, and it’s within Zverev’s capacities. The German should win in four at the most.

Zverev vs Sinner: Prediction

After one five-set duel, Alexander Zverev could be in for another against former French Open semifinalist Maro Cecchinato.

Zverev vs Cecchinato is live from Roland Garros on Friday 2 October, 

For the third year in a row, Alexander Zverev found himself being taken the distance on his way to the third round of the French Open as he had to battle for four hours to beat Pierre-Hugues Herbert.

French Open 2020: Find out tournament information for Roland Garros 2020 and how to stream French Open matches live

If the US Open finalist is to make another deep run at a Grand Slam he needs to keep these early-round matches short, but will that be achievable against Marco Cecchinato, architect of one of the most unexpected French Open semifinal runs of recent times?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Zverev vs Cecchinato live

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Zverev vs Cecchinato: Head-to-head

Alexander Zverev leads the head-to-head with Marco Cecchinato 1-0, having beaten the Italian 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-4 in the first round of the Australian Open in January.

Zverev vs Cecchinato: Preview

Sixth seed Alexander Zverev may have won his only previous match against Marco Cecchinato in straight sets, but that might not mean much – of Cecchinato’s seven main-draw Grand Slam wins before this year’s tournament, all seven have come at the French Open: Two in 2020, when he has beaten 25th seed Alex de Minaur and Juan Ignacio Londero, and five in 2017, when he beat Pablo Carreno Busta, David Goffin and Novak Djokovic to make the semifinals.

Best known before that run for being suspected of match-fixing, Cecchinato was propelled upwards as high as world no. 16 after winning his second ATP Tour title of the season in Umag, picking up a third title in early 2019 in Buenos Aires. But his failure to defend his French Open points – he lost in the first round to Nicolas Mahut – sent him plummeting downwards again and by the end of 2019 he was playing Challengers.

Marco Cecchinato (Credit Image: © Benoit Doppagne/Belga via ZUMA Press)

Now ranked world no. 110 and again having spent much of his season so far playing Challengers, Cecchinato successfully qualified for the Rome Masters and now for the French Open. He breezed through qualifying without dropping a set in wins over the likes of former semifinalist Ernests Gulbis, and is now on a five-match winning streak.

All of this could be dangerous for Zverev. The German appeared to have bounced back nicely from his failure to serve out the US Open final when he beat Dennis Novak in the first round, but against Herbert in the second all his worst instincts – dropping back and rallying passively, relying on his fitness to out-grind his opponent rather than using his height and power to impose himself on the match – were on display; he also hit 11 double faults.

This will get him into trouble against Cecchinato, who plays an elegant, swashbuckling, attacking blend of tennis that is extremely effective when the Italian is performing well (as Djokovic can attest). Zverev absolutely cannot afford to play passively or wait for Cecchinato to miss, or he will end up at the least getting sucked into a lengthy match, possibly even losing. I anticipate a four-set tussle at least; their one match so far went 32 games in straight sets and Zverev won by six games.

Zverev vs Cecchinato: Prediction

Dominic Thiem is one match away from Grand Slam greatness – can Alexander Zverev steal the moment for himself in the US Open men’s final?

Thiem vs Zverev is live from New York on Sunday 13 September, 4pm local/9pm BST

The first Grand Slam final in six years not to feature one of the ‘Big Four’ takes place in an empty Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday night as Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev battle to be crowned US Open champion.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Thiem has lost three Grand Slam finals, but he’s 7-2 vs Zverev and the muscular Austrian has shone where Zverev has struggled in the quarters and semifinals. Can Zverev find a way to upset the favourite and crown himself?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Thiem vs Zverev live

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Thiem vs Zverev: Head-to-head

Dominic Thiem leads the head-to-head with Alexander Zverev 7-2, and has won their last three matches and all three matches they have played at Grand Slam level.

They last met at the Australian Open in January when Thiem lost the first set but won 3-6, 6-4, 7-6(3), 7-6(4).

Thiem vs Zverev: Preview

Dominic Thiem is rightfully the favourite to win this US Open final. Obviously anything can happen when two players take to the court, particularly at this oddest of US Opens. But since the shock exit of Novak Djokovic guaranteed a new Grand Slam men’s singles champion, only one of these two players has looked absolutely ready to rise to the occasion, and that’s been Thiem.

While his early-round performances were average, good enough but no better, Thiem has started playing his best tennis in the second week, flattening young pretenders Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alex de Minaur. In the semifinal clash which was decidedly the heavyweight bout of the two, Thiem’s proactive, aggressive tennis rocked 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev back on his heels, and although it was a long and gruelling match, Thiem absolutely refused to let it become any longer or more gruelling than it had to be: He came back from a set down in both the second and third sets and saved set point in the second-set tie-break to win 6-2, 7-6(7), 7-6(5).

Alexander Zverev is 2-7 vs Dominic Thiem (PA Images)

By contrast, Alexander Zverev played a very poor first set in the quarterfinals against Borna Coric, a match which never rose above the mediocre, and he was appalling in the first two sets against Pablo Carreno Busta. He did play better, but never really well, and often looked like he was struggling to win a point with any shot other than his first serve. Credit to Zverev for digging himself out of a hole, but it was a hole he buried himself in. To start two matches in a row very poorly, looking unprepared to be out there, doesn’t suggest that he’s primed to win this title.

Will Zverev play better when he’s not the favourite to win, as he was against Coric and Carreno Busta? Perhaps. There’s also the right Achilles issue which bothered Thiem in his semifinal against Medvedev, although his trainer has insisted he’ll be fine for Sunday.

Still, the head-to-head is pretty one-sided in Thiem’s favour: He has won seven of nine vs Zverev, all three of their Grand Slam matches (including a four-set battle in the semifinals of the Australian Open) and the last three they have played. The Austrian’s tremendous power off both wings, even when well behind the baseline, can break down Zverev’s more erratic forehand, and he’s just generally a more rounded and versatile player right now, not to mention psychologically primed to seize this opportunity. After losing to him, Medvedev said that Thiem had a ‘winning energy’. I agree.

Thiem vs Zverev: Prediction

With both men looking to reach their first Grand Slam final, will it be Alexander Zverev or Pablo Carreno Busta who seizes opportunity at the US Open?

Zverev vs Carreno Busta is live from New York on Thursday 10 September, 4pm local/9pm BST

Alexander Zverev has long been seen as a Grand Slam champion-in-waiting, but nerves almost cost him his chance to make the semifinals for the first time in New York. Can he shake them off when he faces Carreno Busta?

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

Pablo Carreno Busta had to battle for over four hours to shake off the challenge of Denis Shapovalov, but after two days’ rest, will he have what he needs in the tank to take down Zverev?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Zverev vs Carreno Busta live

US Open matches including Alexander Zverev vs Pablo Carreno Busta are streamed live alongside odds and in-play betting at bet365.

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Zverev vs Carreno Busta: Head-to-head

Alexander Zverev beat Pablo Carreno Busta in their only previous meeting, winning 7-6(4), 6-2 in the semifinals of the Miami Masters in 2018.

Zverev vs Carreno Busta: Preview

Alexander Zverev played, in Tuesday’s quarterfinal match against Borna Coric, like a man who knew he had been given a huge opportunity at this Grand Slam by Novak Djokovic’s exit, and that’s not a compliment.

While Djokovic going out didn’t affect this match-up, knowing that it would be Pablo Carreno Busta or Denis Shapovalov waiting in the semifinals and not 17-time Grand Slam champion Djokovic – and knowing that a new male Grand Slam champion was guaranteed – the sense of being desperate not to let this opportunity slip hung in the air and Zverev might well be on the plane home if Coric hadn’t also played like he felt it.

Zverev played an abysmal first set and although he levelled, winning the second set in a tie-break, he still might not have managed to lift himself out of the mire, had Coric not hesitated when he had a chance to really put his foot down: With Zverev serving at 5-6, 15-30 in the third set, Coric was on top of the point. Instead of sticking to his guns, Coric backed off, throwing in a drop shot which Zverev tracked down for a winner. The German went on to win the third set in a tie-break and did not look back throughout the fourth for a 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(1), 6-3 victory.

Pablo Carreno Busta is playing his second US Open semifinal (PA Images)

Zverev’s old nemesis, the nervous double fault, came back to haunt him and he finished the match with 18 aces to 12 double faults, which would probably be fine if they didn’t have a tendency to arrive in battalions. Whichever way you slice it, he will have to play better to beat Carreno Busta in the semifinals. The good news is that he definitely can.

Carreno Busta played well – actually very well – in his quarterfinal against Denis Shapovalov, but it will have been a draining effort, taking over four hours; the Spaniard said himself he was ‘destroyed’ afterwards, although fortunately he has two days to rest thanks to US Open scheduling. The 3-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(4), 0-6, 6-3 victory was mainly due to Carreno Busta being absolutely clutch in the tie-breaks, and he also showed his experience in the way he managed his energy levels through the five-set match.

The attacking Shapovalov, however, will be a different challenge to Zverev. The key thing about Zverev is that he is quite capable of dropping to the back of the court and trying to grind out a win over Carreno Busta from the baseline – a tactic which probably would work, given his physical advantage over the Spaniard. Given that this will be mitigated by the extra day’s rest, however, it would be much smarter for Zverev to step in, leverage his superior power and attempt to dictate play with his backhand. Zverev has enough levels left to go to that he should win this in three or perhaps four.

Zverev vs Carreno Busta: Prediction

Alexander Zverev has a golden opportunity at the US Open – if he can overturn a losing record against quarterfinal opponent Borna Coric.

Zverev vs Coric is live from New York on Tuesday 8 September, 1.30pm local/6.30pm BST

A semifinalist at the Australian Open in January, Germany’s Alexander Zverev has a chance to match that result at the US Open – and with no Novak Djokovic blocking the way to the final, possibly go further and finally reach that Grand Slam title match it feels like he’s always been destined for.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

But standing in Zverev’s way is Borna Coric, the determined Croatian who saved six match points earlier in the tournament and has a winning record against the German.

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Zverev vs Coric live

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Zverev vs Coric: Head-to-head

Borna Coric leads the head-to-head 3-1. He won their first two matches in 2015 and at the US Open in 2017 before Zverev beat him at the Miami Masters in 2018. Coric won their most recent meeting, which came on grass in Halle in 2018.

Zverev vs Coric: Preview

As with Shapovalov vs Carreno Busta, the player who trails 1-3 in the head-to-head is actually favoured to win this and that’s Sascha Zverev.
Not many people would have predicted him reaching a semifinal, not with Stefanos Tsitsipas as his projected quarterfinal opponent, but Tsitsipas fell victim to Coric and his own failure to convert one of six match points he held against the Croatian earlier in the tournament.

Zverev looked to have a tougher draw than Tsitsipas coming into the US Open, but it’s the German who’s still here after four rounds, and he hasn’t once gone to five sets – a significant improvement on some of his other major campaigns. He dropped sets against Kevin Anderson, Brandon Nakashima and Adrian Mannarino before taking care of business in efficient straight sets against Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, who was troubled with a foot injury, in the last 16.

Borna Coric has played two five-set matches at the US Open (PA Images)

It’s been decent, but Zverev has yet to really shine for me at this tournament, and the chances are he’ll have to do just that against Coric. The Croatian might regret the energy he expended against Juan Ignacio Londero in the second round, going five sets with the Argentine; coupled with the Tsitsipas match, that’s a lot of emotional energy expended as much as physical and Coric does have a history filled with injuries. The 23-year-old dominated proceedings among Jordan Thompson, and as aforementioned, he has a very good record against Zverev; I don’t find it hard to see why, because Zverev has a tendency to sit back and rally, trying to outgrind his opponent and waiting for errors. Not only does Coric not tend to give up errors in the kind of numbers that would make this a winning strategy, but he’s all too likely to take the opportunity to come in and attack.

Big serving will be key for Zverev: Big serving and a proactive attitude. I think it will be a long match, and he’ll find himself having to outlast Coric as anything, but the German has a real opportunity here. I don’t think he’ll waste it.

Zverev vs Coric: Prediction

Fifth seed Alexander Zverev faces a tough opener against former finalist Kevin Anderson at the US Open.

Zverev vs Anderson is live from New York on Monday 31 August, 1.30pm local/6.30pm BST

Alexander Zverev lost his only match at the ‘Cincinnati’ Masters to one play who is trying to make their way back from a lengthy injury break – will he suffer the same fate at the US Open?

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, latest news and live streaming information for the resilient Grand Slam in New York

The 2017 runner-up Kevin Anderson, who also reached the Wimbledon final in 2018, struggled with elbow and knee injuries in 2019 and is trying to rebuild his ranking after it dropped out of the top 100. Can he cause the first big upset of the US Open 2020 by knocking out the fifth seed?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

How to watch Zverev vs Anderson live

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Zverev vs Anderson: Head-to-head

This will be the fifth meeting between Zverev and Anderson. All four previous encounters have been won by Zverev: Anderson took a set in their first two encounters, but their two most recent matches – which took place within weeks of each other at the Citi Open and Rogers Cup in the summer of 2017 – were straight-sets victories for the German.

Kevin Anderson made the US Open final in 2017 (PA Images)

Zverev vs Anderson: Preview

In addition to taking some (justifiable) PR heat for his failure to follow self-isolation guidelines, Zverev recruited a new coach during the shutdown in the form of former pro David Ferrer, but the 23-year-old’s return to ATP Tour action did not go well: Zverev lost 3-6, 6-3, 5-7 to Andy Murray at the ‘Cincinnati’ Masters (played this year in New York).

Murray is, of course, an incredible player but he had played only one match since the previous November and it was not the statement Zverev wanted to make ahead of the US Open. The world no. 7’s serve was a particular cause for concern; although he served well in the second set, when the crucial moments arrived in the decider, Zverev’s serve proved fragile. When serving for the match at 5-4, he double-faulted twice at deuce; then when serving to stay in the match at 5-6, he double-faulted twice to 0-30.

Zverev’s serve has ebbed and flowed already this season: It was plagued by double faults at the ATP Cup in January, for example, and then proved formidable at the Australian Open just over a week later, playing a significant role in Zverev’s run to the semifinals – his best Grand Slam result so far.

So just because Zverev didn’t serve well at the Western & Southern Open doesn’t mean he won’t at the US Open. But there shouldn’t be much room for error on that front in his first-round match against Anderson, because the one sacrosanct rule of playing these six-foot-plus big servers is to hold one’s own serve.

When Anderson last played the US Open he was ranked world no. 5 and defending runner-up points from the previous year, when he stayed tough as the draw disintegrated and was rewarded by a first Grand Slam final appearance, finishing runner-up to Rafael Nadal. His run to the Wimbledon final in 2018 was more memorable for his defeats of Roger Federer 13-11 in the fifth and then John Isner 26-24 in the fifth, but he only played 15 matches in 2019 – none after Wimbledon – as he struggled with knee and elbow injuries.

Anderson was 3-3 before the shutdown, but when he returned to competition in ‘Cincinnati’ looked much better than he had in January/early February, delivering a 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-3 victory over world no. 44 Kyle Edmund.

Stefanos Tsitsipas ended Anderson’s tournament in the next round with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over the South African, but Anderson does have that Edmund win to draw on, which is more than Zverev has. The head-to-head is, obviously, overwhelmingly in Zverev’s favour, but they haven’t played since 2017, and the German’s game has changed a bit since then – his serve getting more fragile being the clearest example. Zverev should be able to make it 5-0, but not before Anderson grabs a set or even two.

Zverev vs Anderson: Prediction

Andy Murray looks for his first win over a top-10 opponent in more than three years as he takes on world no. 7 Alexander Zverev at the Western & Southern Open.

Murray vs Zverev is live from Cincinnati on Monday 24 August

After claiming a hard-fought win over Frances Tiafoe in his first official singles match of 2020, Andy Murray will face a top-10 player in the form of Alexander Zverev, with a place in the last 16 at the Cincinnati-New York Masters on the line.

ATP Cincinnati-New York Masters: Tournament information, schedules and live streams for the Western & Southern Open

Murray last defeated a top-10 player at the French Open in 2017, before the lengthy battle with injury which almost saw him retire at the Australian Open in 2019 and now sees him attempting to rebuild his career with a metal hip. During Murray’s absence from the top echelons, Alexander Zverev has emerged as a force at the top of the game. Can he impose his authority on the rusty Murray on Monday?

Read on for our preview, predictions and live streaming information.

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Murray vs Zverev: Head-to-head

Murray and Zverev have played just once before, at the Australian Open in January 2017 when Murray won 6-1, 6-2, 6-3. Zverev was ranked world no. 83 at the time.

Murray vs Zverev: Preview

Playing his first official match since the Davis Cup Finals last November, when a groin injury forced him on to the sidelines and kept him there through the Australian Open and the first two months of the tennis season before it all went crazy, Murray was hardly in vintage form against Frances Tiafoe on Saturday but he got the win.

Tiafoe had a break point in the first set, led 5-2 in the first-set tie-break and had a set point, only for Murray to somehow wriggle off the hook and take the lead 7-6(6). With that first set in his pocket, he was able to bounce back from losing the second set 3-6 to dominate the third 6-1, leading Tiafoe to comment on Instagram: ‘Had you by the balls bro but legends prevail.’

Dogged defense and the Murray trademark of somehow squeaking out points it felt he had no right to win by virtue of refusing to miss or let a ball get past him got the British player the win over Tiafoe, who too often lacks the killer instinct to close out his foes. Theoretically, things should be much tougher for Murray against world no. 7 Zverev.

Alexander Zverev has never beaten Andy Murray (PA Images)

The German will be playing his first official match – he played some exhibitions during the shutdown, as you may have heard – since losing to Tommy Paul in the round of 16 in Acapulco back in February. During the hiatus, he has picked up a new coach in David Ferrer, although the Spanish pro is not with him in New York.

Zverev had the best result of his career at Grand Slam level when he made the semifinals of the Australian Open in January, brushing off a double-fault-riddled and troubled 2019 season, and it was largely because of how well he served. This will be key against Murray. Zverev will want to avoid getting into a long, grinding baseline battle with Murray, and to do that he will need to serve well. I don’t believe Zverev will be able to keep up good serving throughout the match, so I can see him winning in three.

Murray vs Zverev: Prediction

Novak Djokovic could be headed for a semifinal clash with defending champion Daniil Medvedev as the Cincinnati Masters 2020 takes place in New York.

We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Djokovic, Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas lead the field at the Western & Southern Open.

ATP Cincinnati Masters, New York Preview

The 2020 tennis season will finally get a Masters 1000 Series event played as the Western & Southern Open takes place, with main-draw play beginning on Saturday 22 August.

The tournament is being played behind closed doors at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, and is the first official ATP Tour event to be played since early March. Top seed Djokovic brings a perfect 18-0 record this season as he leads the field, and could be set for what would be a rematch of last year’s semifinals against defending champion Medvedev.

ATP Cincinnati Masters, New York Draw Analysis

Top Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Novak Djokovic (1) vs David Goffin (7)
Djokovic takes the court in New York having last lost a singles match in November, and having last played an ATP match in February when he beat Tsitsipas in the Dubai final. The world no. 1 has been in defiant mood, repeating his comparison of the media criticism he’s received lately to a ‘witch hunt’, but inasmuch as these things ever seem to affect his tennis, they tend to bring out the best in him – and Djokovic’s best is formidable.

This is not to say we should expect to see the 17-time Grand Slam champion playing anything like his finest, smoothest tennis next week. At 33, even the supremely fit Djokovic will be urgently trying to manage the physical transition back to competition after such an unusual and lengthy layoff as best he can.

Felix Auger-Aliassime could await Novak Djokovic in the third round (PA Images)

Wildcard Tommy Paul or a qualifier (a particularly dangerous proposition at the moment because they have had recent matches) will be Djokovic’s first opponent. Felix Auger-Aliassime, 13-9 in 2020 with two finals reached to his credit, could await if he isn’t ousted by hard-hitting Nikoloz Basilashvili.

David Goffin was a surprise finalist in Cincinnati last year, but he had a very soft draw and this isn’t. Every player in his section except perhaps Benoit Paire could be a threat, especially when he could face Denis Shapovalov, Marin Cilic, Jan-Lennard Struff or Alex de Minaur in the third round. On the other hand, none of them look very threatening to Djokovic.

Predicted semifinalist: Djokovic

Second Quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Daniil Medvedev (3) vs Roberto Bautista Agut (8)
It’s so hard to know what to expect from Medvedev. Last year’s US Open finalist and Cincinnati champion was 8-4 before the shutdown, during which he played little. Now defending his points in ‘Cincinnati’ (although revised rankings take that pressure off), Medvedev has a nice draw to play himself into form – a qualifier in the second round with Cristian Garin or Taylor Fritz in the third round. He should make the quarterfinals.

Roberto Bautista Agut (PA Images)

The perpetually underrated Roberto Bautista Agut has made a Masters 1000 Series final in the past (Shanghai 2016) and his draw isn’t bad, either: The Spaniard could open against Richard Gasquet, against whom he is 5-2. Projected third-round opponent Karen Khachanov could well go out in the first round to the unpredictable Sascha Bublik, who would have run out of steam by the time he got to Bautista Agut, or indeed to Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round. This is one quarter where seeding could hold up.

Predicted semifinalist: Bautista Agut

Third quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Matteo Berrettini (6) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (4)
Berrettini and Tsitsipas both played Patrick Mouratouglou’s innovative Ultimate Tennis Showdown during the shutdown, so we’ll see if that ecelectic format had a beneficial effect for them.

Big-serving Berrettini was a surprise US Open semifinalist last year but had played just two matches in 2020 before the shutdown due to injury, so he could be an early seeded casualty, opening against a match-tough qualifier with tenacious Diego Schwartzman or big-serving Reilly Opelka waiting in the third round.

Stefanos Tsitsipas has found himself surrounded by big servers (PA Images)

Tsitsipas should be in better shape, but he’s got a tougher draw. Former US Open finalist Kevin Anderson or Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund will be his opening opponent, while either John Isner or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz are likely to await in the third round if he gets through that. This is the quarter of the big servers; could the diminutive Schwartzman outwit them all?

Predicted semifinalist: Schwartzman

Fourth quarter

Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Alexander Zverev (5) vs Dominic Thiem (2)
A really interesting, tightly-packed quarter this one. Thiem played 28 exhibition matches during the shutdown, just to keep his hand in, and if someone apart from Djokovic is going to win the US Open, the Austrian has to be among a shortlist of contenders. Often Thiem is too exhausted/over-scheduled to be at his most effective at this time of year, but that shouldn’t be a problem in 2020.

Thiem could open against Filip Krajinovic, a better player than his ranking but injury-prone and erratic, with Grigor Dimitrov a projected third-round opponent, although the Bulgarian is unlikely to be at his best after a draining bout of COVID-19.

Alexander Zverev (PA Images)

Zverev has a rather tougher path of it: He could open against Andy Murray, should the man with the metal hip beat Frances Tiafoe in the first round. Andrey Rublev, the Russian who scored wins over Tsitsipas and Roger Federer on American hard courts last year, could await in the third round: Rublev faces Dan Evans, who played well during the Battle of the Brits, and who is a career-high world no. 28 at the moment, in the first round, but leads the head-to-head 2-1. Big servers Milos Raonic (always dangerous despite his struggles with injury) and Sam Querrey will face the winner.

Semifinalist: Thiem

ATP Cincinnati Masters, New York Prediction

Semifinals: Djokovic d. Bautista Agut
Thiem d. Schwartzman

Final: Djokovic d. Thiem