This will be a first between these two players.
You should know that this tournament is not played in Cincinnati but in Flushing Meadows this year. The playing conditions are therefore quite different from previous editions.
This is the fourth year in a row that Karen Khachanov is competing in this Masters 1000. He has never been eliminated in the first round yet, and has always stopped in the 1/8 final.
Alexander Bublik, meanwhile, will play in the final draw for the first time in his career.
Karen Khachanov really seems to have all the cards in my hand to win this match. And yet, I am far from confident.
First of all because the US Open is just around the corner and there’s no point in taking risks this week.
Then because he’s not playing the best season of his career. Indeed, his performances in the last tournaments he played before the break were not extraordinary.
Karen Khachanov is armed to keep her service games safe but also her opponent at a distance. Her powerful forehand could indeed leave Bublik far behind his line.
But the Kazakh is far from having said his last word. His service and unpredictability can make the Russian’s head spin (especially at the moment when he’s not at his best). Then because he could well reverse the trend and use his good forward runs to gain precious points (and do the “kéké”).
I prefer to stay on a Karen Khachanov victory as we are in an important tournament and he hasn’t lost yet in the first round of this one.
A tie-break and a nervous Karen Khachanov will not be surprising in this match.
Prediction: Karen Khachanov wins