This post previews three stand-out matches from day 2 of the US Open where the bottom half of the women’s draw will take centre stage. For a preview of day 1 matches click HERE and for a final Set Points post before the carnage commences click HERE. Draw predictions and match analyses are also up on the site. Read on for three to see from Tuesday…
1. Caroline Garcia vs. Johanna Konta (3rd on Grandstand)
The match of the day from the bottom half of the women’s draw is undoubtedly the number six seed, Caroline Garcia going up against Johanna Konta. This is the first Slam since the 2016 Australian Open where Konta is unseeded.
Konta’s form has actually been pretty steady since the French Open. Her three losses during the grass court season warm-up events were all against the eventual champions and she then came up against a red-hot, Dominika Cibulkova in the second round of Wimbledon. Back on the hard courts, Konta scored noteworthy wins over Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Jelena Ostapenko. However, she made just the one quarter-final in San Jose. All of her losses though were respectable and against in-form players. I fancied Konta to have a deep run in New Haven where she opened with a win. The Brit was forced to withdraw with a viral illness before her second round match. She posted on Instagram on Friday about being out of her sick bed!
Garcia’s recent form has felt quite similar to Konta over the summer. She’s produced some knock-out performances against Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka and generally made a bit more impact in draws than Konta, but still has been missing that noteworthy run, one like in Asia last year where she sensationally tore through the field. While she has been quite consistent, Garcia has just come up short towards the ends of tournaments. Garcia lost her quarter-final match in New Haven to Monica Puig where she wasted three set points in the first set and eventually lost in three sets after having a medical time-out in the first set for an arm injury.
Konta leads Garcia, 3-2 in their head-to-head and won their most recent match at Wimbledon last year. It’s an interesting match-up because I feel both players are playing quite well and primed for a big run somewhere with the right draw. Perhaps here in Flushing Meadows for the winner? While she may not admit it in press, I think the underdog status is a favourable one for most players and especially Konta. My instinct, which has generally been the kiss of the death this year, is that Konta will sneak the upset win.
2. Jelena Ostapenko vs. Andrea Petkovic (1st on Louis Armstrong)
Fun stat – Andrea Petkovic has knocked out a seed in the first round at the first three Slams of 2018. Watch out, Jelena Ostapenko!
Ostapenko is winless since Wimbledon after three set losses to Johanna Konta and Alizé Cornet in Montreal and Cincy, both from a set up. The new coaching partnership with Glenn Schaap is an intriguing one. It seemed the Latvian player had turned a corner after the French Open where she was refreshingly honest in press about how she was affected mentally by the title defence With renewed vigour, Ostapenko won seven matches on the grass and reached her first Wimbledon semi-final where she lost out to the eventual champion. Since Wimby, Ostapenko’s fortunes haven’t been as favourable.
Petkovic had another great run in Washington where she backed up her semi-final run from 2017. All in all, it’s been a better year than the last for Petkovic and she has done well at the Slams, particularly at the French Open where she looked back to her best, testing the eventual champion, Simona Halep in the first set of their third round match. In her most recent match on tour, Petkovic retired from her second round qualifying match in New Haven.
As is the case with many of her matches, a lot depends on Ostapenko. Petkovic is still a pretty solid hitter and has some decent records against huge hitters (Kvitova springs to mind). I’d give Petkovic, surely buoyed by her giant killing record against the seeds at the Slams, at least a fair shot at the upset. After much swaying, i’ve gone for Ostapenko… barely!
3. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sam Stosur (1st on Arthur Ashe)
Slam champions unite for this first rounder in New York as the 2018 Australian Open champion, Caroline Wozniacki, takes on the 2011 US Open champion, Sam Stosur. The pair haven’t played each other in nearly two years.
Wozniacki’s summer hard court season has been blighted by injury. First it was the leg in Washington, and then it was the shoulder and knee in Cincy, forcing her to retire in her first match of the week against eventual champion, Kiki Bertens. Wozniacki said she was 100% in press but i’m not convinced. Aside from her brilliant runs in the ‘Bourne, Wozniacki’s form has been rather distant from what she produced at the back end of 2017. Of course, some of that has been injury-related. I am generally intrigued about where Wozniacki’s motivation lies after winning her first Slam in Melbs.
Since the hand injury picked up at the French Open in 2017, Stosur has struggled on the tour. It’s now the case where Stosur is qualifying for WTA events and wins have been pretty scant away from the clay. I still feel Stosur can do damage on the clay but I wonder whether she may be considering her future on the tour.
The head-to-head between Wozniacki and Stosur has always been close with Wozniacki leading, 7-5. Both players seem to thrive at the US Open and have had some wonderful moments at this tournament. Even with Wozniacki’s fitness concerns and lack of match play, I don’t think Stosur’s recent form or confidence suggests she can pull off the upset of the number two seed.