The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round

The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round

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Odds via DraftKings Sportsbook and are subject to change

After sub-par 2020 seasons, Matteo Berrettini and Karen Khachanov appear to have righted the ship.

Last year, the Russian went 20-15 with just two Top-20 wins, while the Italian went 9-6 without any Top-20 wins. But just a few weeks into the new season, Berrettini has already earned victories over Dominic Thiem and Roberto Bautista Agut, and is looking like a serious threat to do some damage Down Under.

First, he’ll need to earn his fourth straight win over Khachanov, and his first on an outdoor hard court. Berrettini defeated Khachanov three times during his breakout 2019 season, twice on grass in Stuttgart and Halle, and once on indoor hard in Sofia. Of course, Khachanov would love to play the world No. 10 on a slower surface, but that will not be the case on Friday, as the Melbourne Park courts are fairly quick.

Khachanov and Berrettini play a similar brand of tennis. Both are tall, big-serving, aggressors who prefer to run around their backhand to hit heavy inside-out and inside-in forehands. One minor detail will likely make all the difference.

Berrettini owns one of the most repeatable and compact forehands on tour.

The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round

While Khachanov’s forehand is very good, it features one of the larger take-backs in the men’s game.

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The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round

The world No. 20's large stroke production combined with his extreme western-grip won’t do him many favors against the Italian’s overwhelming pace. Here, Khachanov is late on his forehand off a relatively routine Berrettini backhand.

The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round

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Again, Khachanov is late to connect with Berrettini’s medium-pace crosscourt forehand.

The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round

According to the oddsmakers, Berrettini is a solid -200 favorite. It’s unwise to write off a player of Khachanov’s caliber, but on a quick hard court, there is no question Berrettini has the edge. Expect Khachanov to steal a set, but over time, Berrettini’s unrelenting pace and compact forehand should wear the Russian down.

The Pick: Matteo Berrettini

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The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round

The Pick: Matteo Berrettini vs. Karen Khachanov, AO third round