Day 3 will be busy at the ATP Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati with the return of Rafael Nadal. Nadal is the headliner of the day in his first tournament since Wimbledon. The list is also consistently strong, with title contenders like Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev and Roberto Bautista Agut. It’s going to be another great day of tennis with all matches predicted at Last Word on Tennis as always. We split the rest of the day’s games into two other articles. A feature Nick Kyrgios vs. Taylor Fritz and the other functions Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie.
ATP Cincinnati Day 3 Predictions
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs. Alex de Minaur
head to head: 1-1
Although this is the third meeting between the two, it is the first time they have faced each other since 2018. Both players had good years, winning titles on hard courts. De Minaur has looked strong at times and put up good runs, but has often struggled to beat top players. Auger-Aliassime has been up and down on the year with several strong results mixed with weak losses. He will try to recover from a poor defeat against Casper Ruud last week, where he only managed to win three games.
De Minaur also suffered a tough loss to Nick Kyrgios in Montreal, although he had a good run beating Grigor Dimitrov and Denis Shapovalov. De Minaur will try to use his speed to grind against the Canadian from the baseline, but Auger-Aliassime will make that difficult for him with his power from the forehand and backhand sides. Auger-Aliassime will be too much of a challenge for de Minaur, who didn’t look quite as dangerous as in the past. The fast courts will play into his game and while the Australian won’t make it easy, he will pull away late to win the match.
Prediction: Auger-Aliassime in 3
Roberto Bautista Agut vs Marcos Giron
head to head: 1-0 Bautista Agut
These two play for the second time in as many weeks, with Bautista Agut winning the match in straight sets. Even at 34, Bautista Agut looks as dangerous and physically fit as ever. He’s in great form, recently clinching the title on clay in Kitzbuhel and again looking strong on hard in Montreal.
Giron switched back to hard courts early but struggled at first. He lost his first two games on the surface despite qualifying in both Montreal and Cincinnati. Giron have been improving lately but just haven’t had a very good year overall. He’s had good results in qualifying but has shown he’s not quite up to par with some of the best players. Bautista Agut is the opposite, both in terms of overall talent and form, and his physical, solid game makes him a winning threat even on a bad day. Bautista Agut won against Giron in straight sets last week and once again has too many tools and physical strength for Giron to come by.
Prognosis: Bautista Agut in the 2nd
Fabio Fognini versus Andrey Rublev
head to head: 5-4 rublev
While their rivalry has been competitive throughout their careers, Rublev has dominated later encounters, winning four straight, two of which have been on hard courts. Rublev had a solid year, winning three titles including two on hard. He hasn’t looked particularly good in recent weeks, losing both of his last two games in situations where he’s struggled to hold serve.
Fognini is not a big hard court player, he lost the last qualifying round to Marcus Giron here. He made the most of his status as a lucky loser by defeating his clay-court specialist Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round. Rublev will be a much tougher challenge and as long as he takes care of business on serve he should be an easy win. Rublev has won six straight sets against Fognini, four of them on hard, and it will be no different. Fognini won’t pose as much of a threat on serve as Dan Evans did last week, so Rublev will hold and pass Fognini in two convincing sets.
Prediction: Rublev in 2
Rafael Nadal vs Borna Coric
head to head: 2-2
Nadal returns to the pitch for the first time after withdrawing from Wimbledon ahead of his semifinals. After watching practice videos he seems physically fit and ready to return to the highest level he has played all year. Coric has fond memories of playing Nadal and beating his as a teenager, leading to his rapid rise as a young star. Unfortunately, injuries and poor form have prevented Coric from fulfilling his potential Many thought he could achieve it. He’s had a solid year overall after losing time through injury, although his best results came in 2022 on clay.
Coric lost to compatriot Marin Cilic in Montreal last week, where he just didn’t look quite ready for elite tennis. He managed to get a first-round win here, albeit against Lorenzo Musetti, who is far less dangerous on hard than on clay. Nadal’s only concern is health, but at this point he’s likely been taking extra rest breaks to ensure he’s fully game-ready. He’s had an incredible run to the Australian Open title and is hoping to feel comfortable again on hard courts to target at the US Open. Nadal will be a bit rusty at the start but will shake it off quickly and ride to victory.
Prognosis: Nadal in the 2
Main photo by Getty.