The first week of the U.S. Open is underway in New York. There have been some intriguing matches early, but the upset that’s most surprising is the first-round elimination of world No. 4 Holger Rune, who lost in four sets to clay-court specialist Roberto Carballés Baena. It’s already been a volatile tournament, which is on trend with a volatile season. Here’s a wager for a second-round match Wednesday.
Dominic Thiem (+120) vs. Ben Shelton
Thiem is making strides. After making his return from injury early last year after nearly a year out, Thiem is finally showing bits of his old self again. The former world No. 3 is 13-18 on the year after starting 1-8. The biggest milestone he’s had is reaching his first ATP Final in over two years at ATP 250 Kitzbuhel in early August. Ultimately, he lost to Sebastian Baez. However, progress was made and it’s continuing in New York.
The Austrian comfortably won his first-round match against world No. 30 Alexander Bublik in straight sets. There are a few things Thiem has going for him against Shelton.
Thiem can produce many types of spin. Having a heavy topspin is highly beneficial, plus he is happy to slice things up. He’s playing well right now, taking less than two hours to quickly win in the opening round to avoid fatigue. He can mix up the pace in order to wear down a far less experienced Shelton.
Let’s not forget Thiem is a 2020 U.S. Open champion, while the American has only nine major matches to his name.
Shelton does have a big serve, but Thiem has the mental and physical tools to combat his style. He beat one of the biggest servers on tour, Alexander Zverev, to win his first Grand Slam event.
This could be competitive. However, I feel confident in Thiem’s ability against a left-handed player. Thiem is 5-2 against lefties this year. He knows how to take the one-handed backhand down the line, which can expose the lefty with aggression.
Back Thiem as an underdog against Shelton.