The seemingly never-ending barrage of tennis in Flushing Meadows continues chugging along Thursday, as the world's best men and women attempt to burrow their way into the third round.
Tuesday marked the beginning of second-round action across both sides of the bracket, with the likes of Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Stan Wawrinka moving through. The day also saw Sloane Stephens, Agnieszka Radwanska and Santiago Giraldo get sent packing before anyone expected.
Outside the results, weather has become the center of attention. With temperatures reaching the 90s—and much hotter on the hard-court surface—players were left drained at the end of their matches. The heat was even a factor in a couple early withdrawals, most notably when Marcos Baghdatis went down to Marin Cilic.
With the sun expected to be beating down on players again Thursday, it'll be interesting to see whether we see any early-afternoon upsets. Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic highlight the afternoon schedule, with both expected to have easy walkovers against non-seeded opponents. The volatile Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and the still-recovering Victoria Azarenka will also be on the court during the most difficult part of the day.
Odds are at least one major upset will take place. And, I guess—seeing as you clicked on this particular article—that you'd like to know when and where you could watch said upset. And, seeing as I am contractually obligated to oblige, read forth for more infotainment.
U.S. Open Day 4 Information
|6 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.||Breakfast at the U.S. Open||Tennis Channel|
|10:30 a.m. - 11 a.m.||Live at the U.S. Open||Tennis Channel|
|11 a.m. - 7 p.m.||Second Round||Tennis Channel|
|1 p.m. - 6 p.m.||Second Round||ESPN|
|6 p.m. - 11 p.m.||Primetime at the U.S. Open: Second Round||ESPN2|
|11 p.m. - 6 a.m.||U.S. Open Tonight||Tennis Channel|
Order of Play: USOpen.org
Day 4 Storylines
Do Djokovic and Williams Stay Dominant?
When contextualized properly, tennis is kind of weird. It's an individual sport, but we bestow monolithic team expectations upon the greats. When Tiger Woods wins one in three golf tournaments, he's the greatest in the history of his sport. When Serena Williams, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, et al. do the same, it's just another year.
There are obvious differences between golf and tennis—in tennis, you're going head-to-head against one person each round rather than eleventy billion—but outside of Mayweather-level boxing, nowhere else is individual sports warped with such high expectations.
Luckily, the all-time greats are willing and often able to live up to the billing. Williams and Djokovic opened their U.S. Opens with dominant straight-sets victories over Taylor Townsend and Diego Schwartzman, respectively. Williams will take on Vania King, her second straight American opponent. Djokovic faces 32-year-old Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu.
For Williams, she's looking three straight times at a single Grand Slam for the first time in her career. The potential for a historic win comes during a season in which her Slams have been riddled with disappointment. Williams did not reach the quarterfinals in any of the first three majors, losing in the fourth round at the Australian, second at the French and third at Wimbledon.
Keep in mind: Williams has entered nine non-Slams this season. She's won five.
“I’ve decided I’m not going to overthink it. I think I’ve overthought every Grand Slam so far this year. It didn’t really work out great for me,” Williams told reporters. “So worst-case scenario, I’m just going to stay positive and do the best I can. That’s all I can do.”
Djokovic has less baggage in 2014 majors—winning a second Wimbledon will do that for a guy—but he has endured plenty of recent struggles and longstanding demons at Flushing Meadows. The Serb is 3-2 since coming back from a post-Wimbledon break, losing in his second match at Toronto and Cincinnati. He's also been haunted by the U.S. Open, reaching the finals each of the last four years but winning only once.
With Nadal out of the tournament, the excuses seem minimal. Then you think about what a ridiculous sentence that is—that a player winning one of the four most difficult tennis tournaments on the planet is somehow expected—and realize we should appreciate the Williamses and Djokovics for as long as they grace the court.
Win or lose. (But, OK, probably win.)
Can Andy Murray Get It Together?
Because it sure didn't seem like it in the first round. Murray was pushed to a grueling four-set win Monday against Robin Haase, a 27-year-old journeyman whose only major professional accomplishments were wins at the Austrian Open Kitzbuhel. Haase played Murray to a tiebreaker in the second set, took the third 6-1 and then was a break away from going to another tiebreaker to force a fifth set.
It was not a good look for a guy who has looked out of sorts since his Wimbledon win. Mind you, not his 2014 Wimbledon win. The one that happened more than a year ago. The one that was supposedly a groundbreaking moment in Murray's career. The one that would finally allow him to be fully embraced by his country and reach his full potential as a player.
That person has been sparsely present as Murray has battled through injuries and mental frustration all season. He's yet to win or even make a final in 2014. His campaign has been filled with a constant stream of quarterfinal exits.
Out of everyone, Murray has to be the happiest he'll be playing in prime time against Matthias Bachinger on Thursday. The Scot was noticeably affected by the heat during his first-round match with Haase, cramping up and seeming totally out of sorts at times.
"It's not the worst I have ever felt necessarily, but it's the worst I have ever felt after an hour and a half of a tennis match," Murray told reporters. "That's what was worrying about it, is it came after such a short time. I've played four-and-a-half, five-hour matches and felt pretty awful afterwards, but not after an hour and a half."
Again, none of this sounds especially promising. Murray has never gone head to-head professionally with Bachinger, a German who is a month his senior and is playing in the second round for the second time in a Grand Slam. Bachinger was able to pull off a semi-surprising win over former top-10 player Radek Stepanek to advance.
I’m really looking forward to playing him. When we were 14 we played each other a few times. I won once, 7-6 in the third in Italy. I’ve never forgotten that because in juniors he was really, really good. He always wanted to win, 100%. He fought for every ball, just like he does now. You could already see that he would be a top star.
With Murray looking more vulnerable than ever, Bachinger may have an outside shot to upset Murray 13 years after his first shocking win.
Follow Tyler Conway (@tylerconway22) on Twitter