As U.S. Open action continues on Friday, there are several matches to keep a close eye on.
Some intriguing men's matches include Juan Martin del Potro taking on Lleyton Hewitt and Andy Murray battling against Leonardo Mayer. Meanwhile, Sloane Stephens will take on Jamie Hampton and Sabine Lisicki faces off against Ekaterina Makarova in women's action.
No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro vs. Lleyton Hewitt
Juan Martin del Potro and Lleyton Hewitt will face off in the second round of the tournament at 4 p.m. on Friday in New York. This highly anticipated match features two former U.S. Open champions (both won at age 20), with del Potro taking on his idol, Hewitt.
While he may be considered as the player who can upset one of the top four seeds, del Potro may be hampered by a lingering wrist injury, reports Matt Cronin of USOpen.org.
Many folks have tabbed del Potro as the one player with the ability to stop the big four at this event, but he’s dealing with a left wrist injury that is hurting him during long points and making him doubt his two-handed backhand.
In addition to playing with an injury, del Potro still has to find a way to get past Hewitt, who defeated del Potro in three sets when they last met in June 2013. Hewitt is out to prove that, even at age 32, he can still compete (via atpworldtour.com):
“I know that I can still play the game,” Hewitt said. “I compete against the best guys. I play well in the big tournaments, I think. That's why I'm still playing.”
With del Potro hurt and Hewitt's recent success against the native Argentine, it can be easy to predict a win for Hewitt. However, expect a close match between these two with a trip to the third round on the line.
No. 3 Andy Murray vs. Leonardo Mayer
No. 3 seed Andy Murray will take on Leonardo Mayer with a trip to the semifinals on the line. Murray is being considered the favorite and Mayer knows he has a difficult match in front of him (via theguardian.com):
It's going to be very tough. He's one of the best players in the world. We'll see how the match goes. Everything in his game is very good. He has a very good serve and a very good backhand.
Murray is expected to cruise to victory, with several news outlets picking the reigning champion to advance:
His (Mayer) best shot is a powerful forehand, but he does not have a weapon with which he can really hurt the world No 3. (Murray).
He (Murray) and Mayer played four years ago on the indoor hard court of Valencia and Murray won handily. It should be no different here.
With the expectation of victory, Murray needs to make sure he does not overlook this match. Mayer is a solid player who advanced to the second round after defeating Victor Hănescu in four sets just two days ago.
While Mayer is not on the same level as Murray, look for him to remain competitive against the No. 3 seed.
No. 15 Sloane Stephens vs. No. 23 Jamie Hampton
No. 15 seed Sloane Stephens will take on No. 23 seed Jamie Hampton in what should be a tough matchup in the third round of action at the U.S. Open.
Stephens, 20, cruised through round two, as she “recorded an emphatic win over Urszula Radwanska on Wednesday to book her place in the third round of the US Open,” according to Ian Horne of LiveTennis.com.
The fact that Stephens played so well after struggling in her first round match shows that she may be ready to take the next step. To do that, she will have to defeat Hampton.
Hampton, 23, seems to finally be healthy after dealing with a back injury (two herniated discs) since the 2012 French Open. Now that she is healthy, she should be in a position to battle Stephens with a trip to the fourth round on the line.
The winner will likely go on to face No. 1 seed Serena Williams in the fifth round, (via Twitter):
Serena Williams: IF she wins her 3rd-round match, she'll play an American in Round of 16 (either Sloane Stephens or Jamie Hampton)— John Buccigross (@Buccigross) August 30, 2013
Expect to see a tight game between the two Americans Friday evening.
No. 16 Sabine Lisicki vs. No. 24 Ekaterina Makarova
No. 16 Sabine Lisicki has cruised through the first two rounds of the U.S. Open, but will face a tough opponent Friday in No. 24 Ekaterina Makarova.
Lisicki has yet to play more than two sets in a match, having defeated Vera Dushevina in Round 1 and Paula Ormaechea in the second round in two sets each.
Plenty to smile about for Sabine Lisicki who blasted past Paula Ormaechea. Wimbledon finalist looking strong pic.twitter.com/TcWhmosLCF— Live Tennis (@livetennis) August 29, 2013
Despite Lisicki’s solid showing in the tournament thus far, analyst Matt Cronin chose Makarova to win (via usopen.org):
Russian Ekaterina Makarova has really upped her singles game and is now one of the most dangerous lefthanders out there. While it’s hard not to like her foe Sabine Lisicki's game on grass, the German hasn't shown much on hard courts, so take the Russian in two tough sets.
The two have met head-to-head just twice, with each player taking a match. Makarova won in 2006, while Lisicki was victorious in 2009.
While it is not certain who will win, expect to see a close match between Lisicki and Makarova.