The U.S. Open kicks off on Monday with Andy Murray battling in-form Argentine Francisco Cerundolo and Emil Ruusuvuori taking on up-and-comer Jack Draper. Will the Brits get off to a strong start in New York, or will they be going home early?
Andy Murray vs. (23) Francisco Cerundolo
Sir Andy Murray has had a spotty show on North American hard courts this summer. The world No. 49 has won just one match (over Stan Wawrinka in Cincinnati) in three tournaments played. He fared much better on grass, earning a spot in the Stuttgart final–but hard courts have been unkind to the Scot.
Francisco Cerundolo isn’t the worst first-round opponent Murray could have drawn. The Argentine is a force on clay, but–with an exception here and there–he comes up short on hard courts. The No. 23 seed stayed on European clay following the grass-court season with great success. He won the event in Bastad and made the semis in Hamburg. He hasn’t won a match on hard courts yet this summer.
This will be the first meeting between the two men and it’s a winnable match for Murray. He will have the support of the Armstrong crowd as the sentimental favorite and is facing an opponent who is susceptible to early exits off the dirt.
Cheryl pick: Murray in 4
Ricky pick: Murray in 4
Emil Ruusuvuori vs. Jack Draper
Despite its billing on an outside court, this could be one of the better matches on the docket for Monday. Emil Ruusuvuori, the 23-year-old Finnish star, has had some success on hard courts this year. He came close to knocking off Hubert Hurkacz in Montreal in the second round and was unlucky to run into an in-form Marin Cilic in Cincinnati (whom he also pushed to three sets).
Jack Draper, the young Brit, is officially “one to keep an eye on” after his out-of-nowhere run to the quarterfinals in Montreal from qualies. The world No. 55 took out Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round before succumbing to eventual champion Pablo Carreno Busta in the quarters. Fatigue was a factor in that match, so a deep run for Draper in a best-of-five event might be suspect–but he is likely to be dangerous in the first week in New York.
Ruusuvuori has already scored a win over Draper this summer, a straight-set affair at Queen’s Club. But even after just a couple months, Draper looks like a different player than he did in June. He is going into the U.S. Open brimming with confidence.
Cheryl pick: Draper in 4
Ricky pick: Draper in 5