After a somewhat forgettable 3-5 stretch on clay, Sebastian Korda proved his doubters wrong in a big way with a 6-1, 7-5 victory over top-seeded Lorenzo Sonego in Parma. Korda was brilliant from start to finish, converting three of four break points while saving all six of his own. Up next, Yoshihito Nishioka, who defeated Lorenzo Musetti in shockingly dominant fashion, 6-3, 6-2.

Thursday will be the first meeting between the two, with the American listed as a -157 favorite. Tournaments that play in the week before a Grand Slam are notoriously unpredictable, so any bets placed should definitely be on the smaller side. That said, it’s tough to pick against the American after his beautiful display of ball striking on Wednesday.

Korda matches up well for a few reasons. First and foremost, the Nishioka serve is attackable, so Korda should find himself deep in plenty of return games.

Secondly, Nishioka’s bread and butter lefty crosscourt forehand should feed into Korda’s wheelhouse on his backhand side. Nishioka hits it heavy and loopy, but that won’t bother the 6’5” Korda, who will step up into the court to get the ball in his strike zone.

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He’s just 20 years old, but few players in the world hit their backhand as well as Korda. 

Nishioka’s quickness and defense could certainly cause problems for Korda, but look for the primary groundstroke pattern to work in the American’s favor.

The Pick: Sebastian Korda