I was so impressed by the slate of third round womens matches for Friday I have gone for a WTA centric post. I could have happily written about seven of them but I have gone for the best four. The men’s line-up has left me feeling particularly underwhelmed with Lleyton Hewitt-Juan Martin del Potro and Alexandr Dolgopolov-Mikhail Youzhny the only match-ups that barely caught my attention.
1. Laura Robson v Li Na
For the second year in a row, Laura Robson and Li Na will square off in the third round of the US Open. Last year Laura claimed a huge scalp and arguably still, her biggest career win to date as she showed terrific character to post a 6-4 6-7(7) 6-2 victory. Laura has had another great slam with two straight set wins over two players she was expected to beat. It has been all the more impressive because she came into the tournament having not played for four weeks because of a wrist injury. Li has looked equally strong with two 6-2 6-2 victories to her name. Li, who made the semi-finals of both Toronto and Cincy, will be wary of the threat that Robson poses. It is no secret that Laura brings her best game against the big players. However I am still concerned by the wrist injury, which affects her backhand. I think Laura will start strong, but this time, unfortunately I see Li gaining revenge.
Prediction – Li to beat Robson in 3 sets
2. Jamie Hampton v Sloane Stephens
A feast of American promise will light up Arthur Ashe stadium as Sloane Stephens and Jamie Hampton will take to the court with the winner likely set to face off against Serena Williams in the last 16. Sloane had a nervy opener against Mandy Minella, eventually progressing in a third set tiebreak, but she came out a different player in the second round to swiftly strike past Urszula Radwanska, 6-1 6-1. Hampton has had two straight set wins and the second of those against Kristina Mladenovic was a toughie as she fought back from a second set deficit to escape with a 7-5 6-4 victory.
Both are extremely promising talents and personally, I am more excited by Hampton’s all court game. However I cannot deny that when Stephens strikes the ball with convinction, she is one of the cleanest strikers on tour. Sloane won their last encounter at Wimby when Hampton was obviously struggling from a gruelling run to the Eastbourne final. This one will be closer for sure, but I see Sloane as the better player in the crucial moments… therefore I am going for Serena v Sloane in R4.
Prediction – Stephens to beat Hampton in 3 sets
A Wimbledon rematch is all set for Kaia Kanepi and Angelique Kerber; Kanepi has had an excellent week as she is playing her first tournament since Wimby. She had an epic struggle in the first round, but after breaking Vania King‘s spirit, she rode home with ease and then came through against Anna Schmiedlova in straight sets today. Kerber had her best win in a while, fighting past Eugenie Bouchard in three sets. Bouchard showed promise in a great match, but made a few too many errors late on. Kerber and Kanepi’s last match at Wimbledon was a sensational second round match that barely made a headline. Kanepi prevailed in a winner-laden affair, which Kerber was just two points from winning. I really am on the fence with this one because I could see Kanepi’s attacking flair being too much for Kerber, but then I could also see the German prevailing on the slower surface and with Kanepi having played such little tennis. A tough one to call…
Prediction – Kerber to beat Kanepi in 3 sets
4. Agnieszka Radwanska v Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
As some men had yet to take to the court at Flushing Meadows, Agnieszka Radwanska and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova had already mustered up two wins and beat the rain to set up a third round encounter. This is Pavlyuchenkova’s best Grand Slam outing since the 2012 French Open and she has looked surprisingly comfortable so far posting a bagel in each of her wins over Virginie Razzano and Ashleigh Barty. Radwanska has not been tested either as she defeated Maria-Teresa Torro-Flor, 6-0 7-5 in the second round. Pavlyuchenkova can give the top players a scare with her brand of clean striking, but her game has it’s fair shares of cavernous holes that Radwanska will certainly exploit. Pavlyuchenkova has beaten Radwanska before and it would not be completely shocking if Pav did it again; still, I like Radwanska’s form and her consistency should bring her home.
The best of the mens second round matches will see Juan Martin del Potro continue his assaullt for a second US Open title against Lleyton Hewitt. Del Potro was far from convincing in his first match against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, taking four sets to get past the Spaniard. There are still utterings that he is struggling with his wrist again. Hewitt took out the returning-from-injury, Brian Baker, also in four sets and will feel good about giving Del Potro a challenge tomorrow night. Hewitt has beaten DelPo twice before including on the grass this year at Queens. I could definitely see Del Potro losing another set and this being another toil like his first match, but I would be really surprised if Hewitt had it in him to take out the Argentine in a best of five set match.
Prediction – Del Potro to beat Hewitt in 4 sets
Best of the rest: US Open 2nd Round Mens Predictions
Jarkko Nieminen to beat Joao Sousa in 3 sets
Alex Bogomolov to beat Tim Smyczek in 5 sets
Marcel Granollers to beat Rajeev Ram in 3 sets
Tommy Haas to beat Yen-Hsun Lu in 3 sets
Mikhail Youzhny to beat Alexandr Dolgopolov in 4 sets
Evgeny Donskoy to beat Peter Gojowczyk in 5 sets
Andy Murray to beat Leonardo Mayer in 3 sets
Florian Mayer to beat Donald Young in 5 sets
Andreas Seppi to beat Somdev Devvarman in 5 sets
Denis Istomin to beat Tobias Kamke in 4 sets
Stanislas Wawrinka to beat Ivo Karlovic in 4 sets
Kevin Anderson to beat Marcos Baghdatis in 4 sets
Julien Benneteau to beat Jeremy Chardy in 5 sets
Tomas Berdych to beat Denis Kudla in 3 sets
Zheng Jie to beat Carla Suarez Navarro in 2 sets
Ekaterina Makarova to beat Sabine Lisicki in 3 sets
Jelena Jankovic to beat Kurumi Nara in 2 sets