Three to See, US Open Day 4: Federer v. Paire; De Minaur v. Tiafoe

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Alex De Minaur vs. Frances Tiafoe

In 2009, I asked Ray Benton, current CEO of the JTCC in College Park, Maryland, where Tiafoe trained his entire childhood, about the then 11-year-old’s future.

He said simply, “Frances has as good a chance to be No. 1 in the world as any of his peers.”

In the second round, Tiafoe will face one of his peers, the lightning-quick 19-year-old Alex De Minaur, who sits just one spot behind the American in the rankings.

Tiafoe will need to exercise his problem-solving ability and think his way through this match. De Minaur is already one of the game’s best counterpunchers—he doesn’t just want the pace of Tiafoe, he needs it. If Tiafoe comes out blasting balls without a game plan, he will lose. De Minaur thrives on using his incredible speed and anticipation to beat the ball to its spot and redirect it with sharp angles; he is already a master at turning defense into offense. This is a stellar matchup between two of the game's brightest young stars.

The Pick: Tiafoe

[2] Roger Federer vs Benoit Paire

After Tuesday night’s performance in his all-maroon attire, Federer proved once again why he is the most enjoyable show in the history of the sport. The Swiss treated the Arthur Ashe Stadium night crowd to a beautiful performance, blasting 56 winners in less than two hours.

Federer’s next opponent, the flashy Frenchman Paire, is also an entertainer. Paire has exceptional athleticism, a tremendous backhand and some of the very best touch in the game.

Federer should dispatch the slightly underachieving Frenchman with relative ease, but the shot-making possibilities in this match make it one to watch. Paire will try his best in the beginning, but if he feels overmatched, he will almost certainly switch to performance mode, hoping to land himself on SportsCenter’s Top 10. Who knows how many more matches Federer has left in his tank? Let’s savor every single one.

The Pick: Federer

[6] Caroline Garcia vs. Monica Puig

In a rematch from last week’s New Haven quarterfinal, world No. 6 Caroline Garcia will look to finally earn a win over the surprise Olympic gold medalist Puig. The Puerto Rican was forced to retire from New Haven with a left abdominal injury, but it must have healed quickly: Puig won her first round match, 6-0, 6-0.

But Garcia, with her abbreviated service motion, will be determined to finally defeat the world No. 55. In addition to fighting her abdominal injury, Puig will have to beat Garcia for the second time in just over a week, never an easy task—especially against a Top 10 talent. This time the stakes are bigger, and nerves will certainly play a factor.

Both players own powerful ground games and look to blast their opponents off the court. Expect plenty of drama in this match, as Garcia looks to advance to the third round of the US Open for the third consecutive year.

The Pick: Garcia

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