Three to See, Day 3: Shapovalov & Tsonga meet again; Svitolina's test

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga lost to Denis Shapovalov at last year's US Open. (AP)

Before each day's play Down Under, we'll preview and predict three must-see matches.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Denis Shapovalov

The 18-year-old Canadian and the 32-year-old Frenchman have met once, at the US Open last year, and it was an ambush. Shapovalov, feeding off the night-match atmosphere at Flushing Meadows and leaping all over Arthur Ashe Stadium, broke out to an early lead; it took a sluggish Tsonga a good two-and-a-half sets to figure what had hit him. Shapovalov was also sharp in his opener on Monday, playing with more strength and easy power than he did last year. But while Tsonga is a notoriously slow starter, he shouldn’t be ambushed again. He should be motivated instead. Winner: Tsonga

Rafael Nadal vs. Leonardo Mayer

After his title run at the US Open last year, Nadal pointed to his closer-than-it-looked third-round win over Mayer as the turning point. Mayer swung for the fences that day, and in the early going he connected. He won the first set, as a nervous Nadal couldn’t buy a break point. But all of that stress and strain, and all of the balls he was forced to hit, paid off in the end for Rafa. Once he broke through, he was home free for the rest of the tournament. Look for Mayer to swing for the fences again, and connect again; but look for Rafa to break through a little earlier this time. Winner: Nadal

Elina Svitolina vs. Katerina Siniakova

Before the tournament, Svitolina was installed as the betting favorite on the women’s side, and her stock only rose higher when one of her fellow contenders in the bottom half of the draw, Venus Williams, was eliminated. But this isn’t such an easy second-rounder. Siniakova took a set from Svitolina at last year’s US Open; she beat Maria Sharapova on her way to the final in Shenzhen two weeks ago; and she survived a very tough first-round fight against Maria Sakkari. This will be a test Svitolina can use—provided she passes. Winner: Svitolina


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