You have to go back to 2013 to see these two players compete against each other. It was at the US Open and Novak Djokovic had, unsurprisingly, won in 3 sets (6-1 6-2 6-2).
Novak Djokovic has already played this Masters 1000 in Cincinnati 13 times. He has reached the final 6 times, and lifted the trophy once (in 2018). Last season, he was eliminated in the semi-final by Daniil Medvedev (who then lifted the trophy).
This is the first time that Ricardas Berankis has participated in the final draw of this tournament.
In this edition
Novak Djokovic took advantage of his ranking to skip the 1st round.
Ricardas Berankis, meanwhile, is coming out of the qualifiers where he won against Davidovich Fokina and Uchiyama. In the first round, he put up a real fight against Tommy Paul (57th). The Lithuanian won in 3 sets and after 2h30 of play.
Ricardas Berankis has shown great things since the beginning of the tournament. He’s a talented player with a very attacking mindset. When he’s on a good day and he lets his shots go, he flirts with the lines and does a lot of damage in the opposing camp. He’s the type of guy who can emulate Denis Istomin against Novak Djokovic at the 2017 Australian Open.
However, let us be realistic. Ricardas Berankis can activate a “God mode” to gain points against Novak Djokovic. But I doubt he can do it in this match. The Lithuanian has shown in his previous matches in the tournament that he can also be a garbage factory. The number of direct faults he could make is quite annoying. Without forgetting that he had difficulties to realize the opportunities he had to break, or even to finish the match.
Novak Djokovic hasn’t played since last June and his Adria Tour, where he took advantage of the opportunity to catch Covid-19. We can assume that he will not be at 100% of his abilities, or that he has some helm strokes. Nevertheless, Ricardas Berankis remains an opponent largely within his grasp, even if he is only at 70%. His regularity and efficiency in important moments should enable him to do the job here.
Prediction: Novak Djokovic wins
Edition 23/08 at 18:40: Novak Djokovic would be injured / hampered at the neck. He withdrew from the double. It remains to be seen what he will do for the singles.