US Open Tennis 2013: Top Storylines Going into Day 3 Action
The US Open is usually one of the most entertaining Grand Slams of the year, and the 2013 edition should be no different.
Tennis is often a stuffy affair. And while it's great to have decorum and keep with the traditions of the sport, sometimes it can be a bit too much.
With the US Open, you get all of that, in addition to the unique reaction of the New York crowd. This is also the last Grand Slam of the season, so there's a feeling this is the culmination of a lot of hard work.
Of course, tennis fans won't need any excuse to tune into the US Open, but for the more casual fans out there, here are three of the most compelling storylines to watch for in Wednesday's action.
Note: You can view the full schedule for Day 3 on the US Open's official website.
Will This Be James Blake's Last Match?
It's appropriate these two would take their final bows so close to one another. After all, they were the best hope for an American male to win a Grand Slam from about 2002-2009, and the United States have yet to produce any players who can match their quality.
ESPN Stats and Info posted a nice graphic of Blake's accomplishments.
James Blake announced today that he will retire after the US Open. Here's a look at some of Blake's accomplishments: pic.twitter.com/0Ej1PgaLU5— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) August 26, 2013
Blake only has a 3-6 career record against his first-round opponent, Ivo Karlovic, so there's a strong chance this will, in fact, be Blake's last match as a professional.
The one thing you can count on is a strong fan reaction.
The tournament has put this match in Louis Armstrong Stadium, and while it doesn't have the capacity of Arthur Ashe Stadium, there will still be about 10,000 fans there doing their best to see Blake through to another round.
The US Open posted on its Twitter account the 33-year-old talking about his best moments at the tournament to date.
James Blake's most memorable moment at#usopen? - http://t.co/Shmp1YXNfa— US Open Tennis (@usopen) August 26, 2013
There's no reason not to watch this match if you're an American tennis fan. It would be great for Blake to keep his career going for one more match, but it would also be bittersweet to see him end his career in Flushing Meadows.
How Will Andy Murray Follow Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal?
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic both looked great in their first-round matches. The top-seeded Djokovic took out Ricardas Berankis, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2, while Nadal made quick work of Ryan Harrison, 6-4, 6-2, 6-2. They both set the bar pretty high for the defending US Open champion, Andy Murray.
Murray has Michael Llodra in the first round. He has a 3-0 record against the 33-year-old Frenchman. However, Llodra is the kind of player who can give Murray problems.
To his credit, the 2013 Wimbledon champion is not looking past his opponent (h/t BBC's Piers Newbery):
It's a tough match. Llodra is a tricky player, serves well, one of the best doubles player in the world just now, very good hands, and he's very unpredictable.
You need to be switched on all the time against him and play a solid match. You can't have too many ups and downs against him because he will capitalise on that.
You can't help but think Murray isn't getting a ton of respect coming into the US Open. As the No. 3 seed, most are focusing on Nadal and Djokovic's chances to win the title, rather than Murray's. The 26-year-old Scotsman is getting lost in the shuffle a bit.
A strong win against Llodra would be a nice statement for Murray. He'd be laying a marker down and illustrating that he's just as much of a threat as the two stars ahead of him in the rankings.
Which Seeded Players Will Be Upset?
While Llodra could give Murray some trouble, don't expect to see an upset there.
As it's still early in the tournament, there haven't been a ton of big-name stars getting dropped. No. 11 Samantha Stosur in the women's draw and No. 11 Kei Nishikori in the men's draw are the biggest names who have fallen already.
Upsets are what makes Grand Slams exciting, especially in today's tennis.
You've got a small group of stars at the top who are so much better than the competition, especially on the men's side. It's great watching great players be great, but that can only last for so long. Sooner or later you need to have some drama, and that's what upsets can provide.
On Wednesday, it would be smart to watch lower seeds like No. 21 Mikhail Youzhny in the men's draw and No. 16 Sabine Lisicki in the women's draw.
Youzhny has a tricky opponent in Nicolas Mahut. Although Mahut is best on grass, he's got the kind of game where he could frustrate Youzhny and pull out some magic at just the right time. Also, the 21st seed has not had a ton of luck in the buildup to the US Open, losing in the second round in both the Rogers Cup and Western and Southern Financial Open.
With Lisicki, you've got a player who can be wildly inconsistent. Lisicki hasn't had a great run-up to the US Open, losing in the second round at the New Haven Open and in the first round of the Western and Southern Financial Open. Lisicki demonstrated her talent when she upset Serena Williams at Wimbledon.
In essence, when things start going wrong for the 23-year-old, they can go wrong in a big way.
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