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Cincinnati 2020: Karen Khachanov vs Alexander Bublik preview, head-to-head & prediction | Western & Southern Open

Karen Khachanov at the Bett1Aces Tennis Tournament
Karen Khachanov at the Bett1Aces Tennis Tournament
Namit Kumar
ANALYST
Modified 23 Aug 2020
Preview

Karen Khachanov will be looking to restart the 2020 campaign on a winning note, as he takes on Alexander Bublik in his first-round match at the Cincinnati Masters in New York.

Khachanov has had an underwhelming season in 2020 so far, after losing in the third-round to Nick Kyrgios at the Australian Open. The Russian player had a tough time on the indoor hardcourts in Europe, and his best performance came in Dubai - where he lost in the quarter-final to eventual champion Novak Djokovic.

Khachanov was, however, quite active during the lockdown. He played a handful of matches at the invitational tournament organised by Dominic Thiem called Thiem's 7, as well as at the Bett1Aces Exhibition tournament in Berlin.

His opponent, Alexander Bublik, has established himself as one of the most entertaining young players on the tour. However, Bublik was in really inconsistent form at the start of 2020.

In three of his first four tournaments this year, Bublik did not make it past the second round. But in his last appearance - at Marseille - the 23-year-old had a decent run as he defeated Benoit Paire and Denis Shapovalov early on. He eventually bowed out to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semifinals of the competition.

Bublik did play on clay during the suspension of the tour, at the 'Friendship Cup', where he won seven of his 11 matches.

Karen Khachanov vs Alexander Bublik head-to-head

The meeting at the Western and Southern Open is the first between the pair of the players; Karen Khachanov and Alexander Bublik have never met on the tour before. Currently, Khachanov is No. 15 in the ATP rankings, while Bublik is ranked 51.

Karen Khachanov vs Alexander Bublik prediciton

Alexander Bublik at the 2020 Dubai Open
Alexander Bublik at the 2020 Dubai Open

Being a former Masters 1000 champion and given his ranking history and form during and before the pandemic, Karen Khachanov comes into the match as the overwhelming favorite. But his solid baseline play will likely make for an entertaining contest against Alexander Bublik's eclectic variety.

Khachanov and Bublik can both bring the heat on their groundstrokes, and they have two of the biggest forehands in the men's game, so we can expect a lot of winners from both sides of the court. For Bublik to cause an upset, he will have to circumvent Khachanov's power hitting and force him into a more defensive game plan. But that's easier said than done.

Prediction: Karen Khachanov to win in straight sets.

Match details

Tournament: Western & Southern Open 2020

Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA.

Category: ATP Masters 1000

Surface: Outdoor hardcourt

Prize money: $4,674,780

Live telecast: India - Sony Ten 2 | USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN

Match timing: 11 am EDT, 8.30 pm IST.

Published 23 Aug 2020
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