US Open Tennis: 5 Things to Watch for on Day 4
It is day four at the US Open and all the first-round matches are in the books.
Some seeded players have been sent packing, with the women's side experiencing significantly more upsets than the men. The last two Grand Slam champions on the women's side have been eliminated, and with Kim Clijsters not playing in the Open, there will be a fourth women's major champion in 2011.
For the guys, second round matches will begin on Thursday. The women will complete the second round, as the bottom half of the draw was slimmed to 16 ladies on Wednesday.
Without further adieu, here's a look at an enticing Thursday.
1. Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka Attempt to Set Third-Round Blockbuster
Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams are both one win away from a third-round matchup. Azarenka, the No. 4 seed, has to feel unlucky to have drawn the best No. 28 seed in tournament history.
Williams won two tune-up tournaments, even besting Azarenka 6-3, 6-3 in the Toronto semifinals when she was 80th in the world. Williams is set to play Michaella Krajicek in Arthur Ashe Stadium in the final afternoon match on the court.
Azarenka is matched up against Gisela Dulko, who she holds an unimpressive 2-3 record against. In fact, Dulko ousted Azarenka in the same round of last year's US Open, as Azarenka was forced to retire. Dulko has won the last three meetings between the two.
If both favorites prevail, the stage will be set for a third-round match with the potential quality of a final.
2. Marin Cilic vs. Bernard Tomic for a Shot at Roger Federer
Bernard Tomic's run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals opened many eyes to the talent of the 18-year-old Australian. Some have been predicting a Tomic upset over Roger Federer, assuming Federer gets by Dudi Sela.
However, Tomic still has a big-hitting Croatian to get by before he gets a chance at the No. 3 player in the world.
Marin Cilic battled back in both the second and third set to defeat upstart American hopeful Ryan Harrison. Not too long ago, Cilic was the new big thing on tour, but his ascent to the top ten was followed by a steady drop back down the rankings.
These two have only met once, with Cilic winning the last two sets to win a second-round match at the 2010 Australian Open.
If I were a betting man, I would avoid this match because it's as good as a coin flip. Just for kicks, I'll give the slight edge to Cilic because of experience, and I think he'll triumph in four sets.
3. Richard Gasquet Against Ivo Karlovic
Speaking of big-hitting Croatians, Ivo Karlovic will wield his gigantic serve in a second-round contest against Richard Gasquet.
Gasquet has climbed back up to No. 13 after dipping as low as No. 86 midway through last season. Now that scandal is behind Gasquet, he's been playing some quality tennis yet again. He has been very consistent in 2011, losing only one first-round match.
On the other side of the net is Karlovic, who can barely see the net when looking straight ahead with his 6'10" frame. Karlovic won his first-round match in straight sets over Fernando Gonzalez, who has plummeted in the ATP rankings.
Gasquet likes to play well behind the baseline, meaning he'll be able to handle the thunderous Karlovic offerings.
On an off day Gasquet could lose to Karlovic, but he should be able to get the job done in four sets on Thursday, losing one set in a breaker.
4. Will Another Top 10 Woman Fall?
Petra Kvitova (No. 5), Na Li (No. 6) and Marion Bartoli (No. 8) have all fallen victim at the hard courts of the US Open.
Who's going home next?
Four more top ten ladies are in action on Thursday, as Caroline Wozniacki(No. 1), Victoria Azarenka(No. 4), Francesca Schiavone(No. 7) and Andrea Petkovic(No. 10) hit the courts.
It would be easy to say that Petkovic is the most vulnerable because she's the lowest seed, but her second-round opponent, Zie Jheng, is primarily a doubles player. Azarenka's matchup doesn't look good because she's lost three straight to Gisela Dulko, but the chance to play Serena Williams in the third round will help her through.
Schiavone is playing Mirjana Lucic, who last made the third round of a slam in 2001...on clay. That leaves Wozniacki, who is playing Arantxa Rus.
Rus, a lefty, knocked Kim Clijsters out of the French Open in the second round this season, so she's no stranger to big upsets in Grand Slams at the age of 20.
Will Wozniacki lose? Probably not, but she's the top 10 player that needs to be at her best.
5. Can Alejandro Falla Follow Up the Upset?
Alejandro Falla putting pressure on a top 20 player in the first round of a major?
That sounds familiar.
This time it wasn't Roger Federer, and Falla was able to pull out a hard-earned win over Viktor Troicki with two 7-5 sets to close the first-round upset. In the second round, Falla will play Tommy Haas, a former No. 2 player in the world.
Yes, Haas reached the ranking in 2002 and was a preposterous 475th when the tournament began, but that's because injuries have derailed his career. On any given day, Haas can utilize his flawless one-handed backhand to control the court.
Falla must go into this contest with the fire he finished with against Troicki. If Falla advances, it would be just his second Grand Slam third-round appearance.
So, tune in on to the US Open on day four to see the scatter of surprises across the grounds.