It’s been an exciting week of tennis so far at the ATP Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and the action continues with Thursday’s Round of 16 action.
Who will win and who will come up short on Day 5 of the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati? I’ll make my best guess!
ATP Cincinnati Day 4 Predictions
Felix Auger-Aliassime versus Jannik Sinner
Head to head: Auger-Aliassime 1-0
Felix Auger-Aliassime played very well, beating Alex De Minaur 6-3, 6-2 to advance to the Round of 16. Auger-Aliassime gained 82% of his first serve points and 48% of his return points in the win. Jannik Sinner, after sneaking past Thanasi Kokkinakis in the first round, had an easier time against Miomir Kecmanovic. Sinner won 94% of his first serves in the 7-5 3-1 (retirement) win.
Auger-Aliassime leads the head-to-head 1-0 despite their only matchup being on clay at altitude, so I don’t think it has a huge impact on this matchup. Both players have strong first serves, but Sinner’s consistency and controlled aggression from the baseline are on a higher level than Auger-Aliassime’s. While this match may be close, Sinner’s game is more reliable in the crucial moments.
Prediction: Sinners in 3
Ben Shelton vs. Cameron Norrie
Head to Head: never played
While Ben Shelton has had a lot of success lately ATP Challenger Tourhe is now is making waves on the ATP Tour, defeating Casper Ruud 6-3 6-3 to move forward in Cincinnati. Shelton won 82% of his serve points and didn’t have a break point the entire game. Cameron Norrie bounced back from a set deficit against Andy Murray in the second round but clinched the win from behind, 3-6 6-3 6-4. Norrie was everywhere on Murray’s second serve, winning 27/41 return points on the second serve.
These two have never played. Shelton has a huge left first serve and incredible pop on his left forehand. The American’s backhand is also becoming more and more solid over time. Norrie gains consistent depth from the baseline and has an awkward left-hand play that confuses many of his opponents. Shelton’s left serve wide on the promotional side won’t be as effective against Norrie’s excellent second leg, which will limit Shelton’s serve effectiveness. While Shelton Norrie can at times push through from the baseline, Norrie’s excellent speed and counterattacks on court will wear Shelton down.
Prediction: Norrie in 3
Taylor Fritz vs. Andrey Rublev
Head to head: 3:2 Fritz
Taylor Fritz dominated a tired Nick Kyrgios in the second round, beating the Australian 6-3, 6-2. Fritz won 86% of his first serves and didn’t even have a break point the entire game. Andrey Rublev won a close second round encounter with Fabio Fognini to prevail 6-7(7) 7-6(3) 6-2. Rublev gained 81% of his first serve points and only got broken once during the game.
Fritz leads neck and neck 3-2, most recently he defeated the Russians in straight sets during Indian Wells. Fritz has the better serve of the two and while his backhand has always been strong, his forehand has become more reliable in recent games. Rublev has a big forehand but has struggled a bit with his rally tolerance in the last couple of games. Fritz has the more reliable baseline game at the moment and that will be enough for him to win this match, but narrowly.
Prognosis: Fritz in the 3
Carlos Alcaraz vs. Marin Cilic
Head to Head: Draw 1:1
Carlos Alcaraz easily defeated Mackenzie McDonald 6-3, 6-2 to reach the round of 16. Alcaraz wasn’t broken the whole game and won 82% of his serve points. Marin Cilic survived a tough test from Emil Ruusuvuori and defeated the Finn 6-4, 6-7(5), 7-5. Cilic hit 13 aces and won 78% of his points on first serve, while also winning 56% of points on Ruusuvuori’s second serve.
The head-to-head game is 1-1, although Alcaraz won the last clash during this year’s Miami tournament (on hard courts) in straight wins. Cilic needs to win a lot of free points with his first serve because Alcaraz is the much better player from the baseline at this stage of Cilic’s career. Alcaraz is faster than Cilic, has higher rally tolerance and better control over his groundstrokes when he wants to be aggressive.
Prognosis: Alcaraz in the 2nd
Main photo by Getty.