TENNIS: Andy Murray is in action at Flushing Meadows in the third round of the US Open – can he roll back the years?
Can Murray roll back the years one more time?
Andy Murray will be the first to admit that he’s never going to be the force of old. Now 35 years of age, the former world number one isn’t getting any younger, but he still shows glimpses of the player we all fell in love and that won three Grand Slams earlier in his career. The first of those, of course, came here at Flushing Meadows although his overall record in New York perhaps doesn’t stack up quite as well as it should.
Since losing to today’s opponent in the final of Stuttgart, Murray hasn’t been able to put it all together consistently and while he’s won the odd set here and there, he hasn’t managed to roll back the years when it’s really mattered, particularly against better players. And as his current ranking of 51 suggests, that’s probably about where he is at the moment – a solid campaigner but not quite at the level of those inside the top 30 in the world rankings.
He’s played nicely at Flushing Meadows so far, though, and he comes into this one at 2.85.
He takes on Fabio Berrettini who has enjoyed a solid year. The Italian has won twice in 2022, both on the grass and while he’s probably not quite at the level of those in the top 10 at the moment, he’s a more than handy player who has been in and around that standard for a couple of years now.
The 26-year-old didn’t have the best preparation for this year’s US Open losing both of his opening matches in Montreal and Cincinnati, and even though he’s made it through to the last 32 here, he’s certainly not been at his best so far. Last time against Hugo Grenier he needed four sets to get past his French opponent and he’ll need to step forward from that against Murray, but he’s fancied to do so at 1.52.
This is a tough one to call as at his best Berrettini should have too much for his British opponent, but he’s not quite at his peak at the moment and the last time the duo met on a hard court, Murray emerged victorious. With that in mind, the outsider might just represent a bit of value here.
Draper to go marching on
While Murray is very much at the twilight of his career, his compatriot Jack Draper’s career is in its infancy. The 20-year-old is very much the new kid on the block in British tennis as shown by the fact that he’s jumped over 250 spots in the world rankings this year to a current high of 53.
He might not have won a title this year, but he’s taken plenty of notable scalps in various tournaments, including beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in Montreal and Taylor Fritz at Queen’s, so he has shown he can turn it on against the big boys. Those were impressive, but perhaps the biggest performance of his fledgling career came in the second round here when he expertly disposed of sixth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets. If he can get through this one, his side of the draw looks very open so a deep run is very much on the cards if he can keep it going.
He’s full of confidence and is the 1.72 favourite.
While 2022 has been a cracker for Draper, it’s been rather the opposite for his opponent Karen Khachanov. Since reaching a career high ranking of eight in July 2019, the Russian’s ranking has slowly worsened in line with his performances. Currently ranked 31, he’s a player of undeniable talent, but he’s failed to put that talent into practice over the last couple of years.
This isn’t a tournament that has treated him well either having lost more matches than he’s won at Flushing Meadows with the third round being the deepest he’s managed in seven appearances in New York. You can back Khachanov to win this one at 2.35 with BETDAQ.
Draper is the favourite for this one and it’s not hard to see why. The British player is riding the crest of a wave at the moment after his victory against Auger-Aliassime in the previous round and this certainly represents an easier test than that. He’ll surely be buoyed by the fact his part of the draw looks wide open and he’ll fancy his chances against an opponent lacking in confidence and struggling to find his best tennis.
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