Pablo Andujar vs Alexander Bublik US Open Picks 8/31/2019
Pablo Andujar vs Alexander Bublik
10 am EST, 31st August 2019
New York, NY (USA)
Raise your hand if you expected Pablo Andujar to reach 3rd round of US Open. Don't lie, nobody saw that one coming. Why do I find it so surprising? Well, Pablo Andujar was always a clay-court specialist. If we look at his career stats on that surface, his win percentage is over 50%, while on the other surfaces that number gets cut in half. This year he is 10-12, but won only two matches on hard courts, before arriving at the US Open. He turned 33 this year, still going hard after numerous injuries that kept him sidelined in some previous years.
He is was 3-6 prior to 2019 at the US Open and was considered a big underdog in both his matches so far. In the first round, he played Kyle Edmund from Great Britain. It was a grueling, 4 and a half hour match that Andujar won in the end by being a tougher and more durable competitor. That is actually a story of his career. All of his success was built on his toughness, hard work, and relentlessness. In the second match, he was an underdog once again. Lorenzo Sonego is a talented young player, but he was completely outworked by the veteran in this straight sets win that took just under 2 hours.
For the first time in this tournament, Andujar is the favorite. His next opponent will be Alexander Bublik. Player from Kazahstan is a pretty polarizing figure in the tennis world. He is one of these NextGen guys that is refusing to commit himself to become great. He is often criticized for lack of effort on the court. Talent is there, but the work ethic and focus are not. I realized just now that I am describing a less famous version of Nick Kyrgios.
He went to a decider against both of his opponents in this tournament. First, he defeated Santiago Giraldo, who fought his way through to the main draw through qualifiers. And then he played Thomas Fabbiano, who eliminated Dominic Thiem in the first round. Bublik had his back against the wall in that one, being two sets behind. But it obviously helped him find some motivation for a great comeback win. His serving performance was something that we rarely see. He had 48 aces and 26 double faults in that match.
This is a true clash of playing styles, that we haven't had an opportunity to see before. On one side, we have a true warrior in Pablo Andujar. He will run until he drops, play with very little risk and try to wear down his opponent. And on the other side, we have a "maniac" that is all-in with almost every shot. Uses underhand serves, drop shots, tweeners... You name it, he's got it.
Betting odds & prediction
These kinds of players are a bad matchup for players like Andujar for one reason. Bublik will take the match out of his comfort zone. Those drop shots that he likes so much will be the key. Usage of those will either be a stepping stone for winning the points at the net or at least force Andujar to defend closer to the baseline, which will definitely hurt his defense. Because he usually prefers to stand deeper and retrieve.
Opening Andujar as a -140 favorite might be an overreaction. Something similar happened in the previous round. Fabbiano was coming off of a big win over Thiem, was trusted into the role of favorite, but lost the match. In these conditions, Bublik should have an edge and is a tricky matchup for Andujar. Backing him at plus money is the right play.
Pick: Alexander Bublik +117
Read more articles by Guy Bruhn
Get all of Today's Free Tennis Picks
Get all of Today's Guaranteed Expert Tennis Picks