Sebastian Korda and Frances Tiafoe, two of America’s most exciting young talents, will face off on Saturday for a spot in the third round of Indian Wells. Though both are two of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, their personalities could not be more different.

Just 21 years old, Korda is already a pro’s pro. Groomed for the ATP at a young age, he’s as professional and workmanlike when it comes to his tennis as anyone on tour.

Tiafoe, on the other hand, is all smiles all the time. His incredible journey is well documented, but it’s worth remembering that there were times in his youth where actually slept on the training tables at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md., while his father Constance was in charge of property maintenance at the academy. Tiafoe understands that tennis is just a game—at times a vey fun one—and doesn’t take his successes for granted.

According to DraftKings Sportsbook, this match is a pick-em, with Tiafoe listed as a slight -110 favorite.


Tiafoe practiced with Marton Fucsovics prior to his first-round win over Benoit Paire. (Matt Fitzgerald)

Tiafoe practiced with Marton Fucsovics prior to his first-round win over Benoit Paire. (Matt Fitzgerald)

After an incredible season, the 40th-ranked Korda hit a rough patch after his fourth-round run at Wimbledon. He tweaked his back at SW19 against Karen Khachanov (during a 10-8 in the fifth-set loss), then suffered a serious case of food poisoning at the US Open which knocked him out—and also knocked 10 pounds off his frame. Korda is feeling better now, and it might be time to capitalize on his even money price. Three months ago, Korda would have been around a solid -200 favorite.

With his spinny forehand and incredible speed, Tiafoe should have a slight advantage over Korda on these extremely slow hard courts. But Korda owns a tremendous advantage in the shot selection and discipline department. I can’t argue against Tiafoe backers, but the last time I bet against Korda—against home favorite Lorenzo Sonego, in Parma—the American thumped the top-seed 6-1, 7-5, and I told myself I’d never bet against him again, or at least for a while.

Expect a competitive and entertaining affair, but Korda is the better player, and I can’t pass him up at even money.

The Pick: Sebastian Korda -105