One of the most anticipated first round matches at the US Open will take place on Tuesday between Karen Khachanov and Lloyd Harris.
Khachanov just got the biggest performance of his career at the Tokyo Olympics, winning a silver medal for Russia, and has had a very good season overall. Karen has been solid post-Olympics on the North American hard courts too, playing at Toronto and Cincinnati, where he defeated Norrie, Karatsev and Anderson, losing to Tsitsipas and Auger-Aliassime.
Lloyd Harris is in good form himself. The South African has broken into the Top 50 for the first time in his career, and is 5-4 in the pre – US Open hard court events. He got some solid wins under his belt lately, especially against Rafa Nadal in Washington (granted, not the best version of Nadal), and was also competitive in his losses against guys like Opelka, Nishikori or Zverev. The highlight of the season for Harris was reaching the final in Dubai, where he had an outstanding run.
Khachanov leads the H2H 1-0, but the 2016 meeting they had at the Samarkand challenger in 2016 holds little to no relevance. Both guys are hard court experts and will feel right at home on the US Open courts.
Khachanov is a deserving favorite here, he’s looking very sharp since Wimbledon and has been fighting neck and neck with the top guys during this July-August hard court season. Nevertheless, he is meeting a strong opponent here, and it will likely be a battle.
Khachanov is known to fluctuate his level during a match, so Harris will be right there to capitalize if that happens, as he has the tools to put pressure, and is having his own run of good form.
The game total is between 38.5 and 39.5 points here, and normally you would expect that to be covered if it goes 4 sets, especially as both players own excellent serves. This should be one of the best matches of the first round, and it’s hard to see any one of these guys getting dominated and defeated in straight. Look for a highly contested match with an elevated level of play and a lot of heavy hitting.
My tip is over 39 games to be played (you can find 38.5 or 39.5 as well, adjust the stakes accordingly, +- a unit or two). If you want to play it safer, you could go with over 3.5 sets, but the gap in odds is quite big, so I think there’s better value on the games total. Prediction: Karen Khachanov – Lloyd Harris 6-3 6-7 4-6 6-4 6-3.