The Cincinnati Masters is already boasting some great matchups in round one, with Jannik Sinner battling Thanasi Kokkinakis and Miami champion Carlos Alcaraz taking on Mackenzie McDonald. Both matches are set for Tuesday.
(10) Jannik Sinner vs. (Q) Thanasi Kokkinakis
Italy’s Jannik Sinner has been successful getting to the business end of tournaments all season. The world No. 12 gave Novak Djokovic all he could handle in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, taking the first two sets and forcing the eventual champion to win in 5. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago that he won his first title of the season on the clay courts of Umag, however.
This will be Sinner’s first match against Australian Open doubles champion Thanasi Kokkinakis (won with countryman Nick Kyrgios). Kokkinakis has had a bit of a wild season. The Aussie world No. 75 kicked off the season with a tournament win in Adelaide…then lost in the first round of the Australian Open. He qualified for, then made the round of 16 at the Miami Masters, but lost in the first round of the French Open.
Sinner is undoubtedly in better form. He comes into Cincy off a short week in Montreal, and with the confidence of a recent title. Kokkinakis won a single match over Fernando Verdasco in Los Cabos, but hasn’t had any singles results of note for months. There is always the possibility that Kokkinakis will have an unbelievable serving day and surprise Sinner, but it just doesn’t seem likely.
Cheryl pick: Sinner in 2
Ricky pick: Sinner in 2
(3) Carlos Alcaraz vs. (WC) Mackenzie McDonald
Carlos Alcaraz comes into Cincinnati off a couple of tricky weeks. The world No. 4 lost in Umag in the final to Sinner and then went into Montreal and crashed out in his first match to an inspired Tommy Paul. After losing to Paul, Alcaraz had the following to say:
It could indicate some confidence issues for the youngster.
American Mackenzie McDonald snagged a wildcard into Cincinnati. The world No. 72 has had a rough time of late, unable to win more than a match at a time since the French Open. McDonald faced Alcaraz once this year on the hard courts of Indian Wells. Alcaraz, who lost a heartbreaker in the semifinals to Rafael Nadal, won in routine straight sets.
Even if Alcaraz’s confidence is a bit shaky, the Spaniard is still playing well enough to get the win on Tuesday.
Cheryl pick: Alcaraz in 2
Ricky pick: Alcaraz in 2