Sunday is typically known as a day of rest, but the intense tennis action at the 2014 U.S. Open featured several top seeds—including Maria Sharapova, David Ferrer and Jelena Jankovic—failing to advance to the next round.
Day 8 is shaping up to be just as intriguing. With No. 1 seeds Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic both in action and a plethora of other interesting matchups on the schedule, it’s an exciting time to be a fan of the sport.
Here is the full television schedule, Monday’s matchups, predicted winners and a focus on the most intriguing contest of Day 8.
|Sept. 1||11 a.m. - 6 p.m.||CBS /CBS Sports Network|
|7 - 11 p.m.||ESPN2|
|Player 1||Player 2||Predicted Winner|
|No. 1 Novak Djokovic||vs.||No. 22 Philipp Kohlschreiber||Djokovic|
|No. 3 Stan Wawrinka||vs.||No. 16 Tommy Robredo||Wawrinka|
|No. 5 Milos Raonic||vs.||No. 10 Kei Nishikori||Raonic|
|No. 8 Andy Murray||vs.||No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga||Murray|
|No. 1 Serena Williams||vs.||Kaia Kanepi||Williams|
|No. 7 Eugenie Bouchard||vs.||No. 17 Ekaterina Makarova||Bouchard|
|No. 11 Flavia Pennetta||vs.||No. 29 Casey Dellacqua||Pennetta|
|No. 16 Victoria Azarenka||vs.||Aleksandra Krunic||Azarenka|
Best Matchup of the Day: No. 5 Milos Raonic vs. No. 10 Kei Nishikori
While most fans will talk about Williams and Djokovic, each of the top seeds is expected to cruise to an easy victory on Monday. One matchup guaranteed to thrill the fans is the night game between No. 5 seed Milos Raonic and No. 10 seed Kei Nishikori.
Raonic has been one of the most consistent players in 2014, advancing to the quarterfinals of the French Open and the semifinals of Wimbledon. While the Canadian player has yet to advance to a Grand Slam final, the composure he has shown even in losses proves that the future is bright for the 23-year-old.
The road to the fourth round was not easy for Raonic, though. After dominating Taro Daniel in a straight-set first-round win, he was locked in intense battles against Peter Gojowczyk and Victor Estrella Burgos in the second and third rounds, respectively. Even without playing his best tennis yet, he is still able to keep his composure and overcome adversity.
The competition is only going to get tougher for Raonic, and that begins on Monday when he squares off against an always tough Nishikori. The Japanese star has not dropped a set in this tournament, knocking off Wayne Odesnik, Pablo Andujar and No. 23 Leonardo Mayer through the first three rounds, respectively.
When asked about his matchup with Raonic, Nishikori told ATPWorldTour.com about how he felt his victory over Mayer would help him prepare for Monday:
Hopefully I can get more returns in, because in the last match, he was hitting so many aces and hitting good serves. I couldn't do anything in my return games. For sure it's going to be a different game here. Still, it's a fast court here. It's going to be tough to get his serve. But I have been playing well. I'm going to try to focus on my service games and try to play another good match.
Nishikori has played well, but he hasn’t advanced to the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2012. The 24-year-old will have to find a rhythm early against his Canadian foe and do his best to throw Raonic off his game.
Using his aggressive approach to the sport, Nishikori is one of the fastest players on the court and dominates the baseline. With a wicked forehand that opens up an even better backhand return, he has the ability and control to thread the ball anywhere he wants.
Who ya got?
The biggest advantage for Raonic is his raw power. Whether it’s serving the ball or hitting a strong return shot, there are few players on tour with the mixture of strength and accuracy that the No. 5 seed possesses.
On Monday, the two men will battle in what should be the best game of Day 8. Fans should take the time to enjoy this marquee matchup under the lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Predicted Winner: Raonic defeats Nishikori, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 3-6, 7-6
Stats via USOpen.com.