US Open Tennis: 5 Things to Watch for on Day 6

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIISeptember 3, 2011

US Open Tennis: 5 Things to Watch for on Day 6

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    Day 6 of the US Open is the first day where there's a laundry list of blockbusters on the schedule.

    Roger Federer and Serena Williams, probably the two most well-known names in tennis for the last decade, are both in action and both have dangerous opponents. In addition to that, both Caroline Wozniacki and Novak Djokovic, the current No. 1 players, will hit the courts.

    Basically, Saturday is going to be a must-watch day for any professional tennis fan. Players that are used to making deep runs at all kinds of tournaments will be knocked out, as the field for both genders continues to thin out.

    At the end of the day, there will be 16 women and 24 men left in their respective singles draws.

    Turn on your TV and load up your computer. Here are five spectacles set to occur on Saturday.

1. The Showdown: Serena Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka

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    Since the moment the draw was released, this is the match that people were pointing to as potentially the best in the first week.

    Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are both elite talents in the women's game, with both players cruising through their first two matches at Flushing Meadows. Serena has only dropped three games this far, looking like the stronger of the two coming into the bout.

    However, Serena has struggled with her first test in majors at times in the past. She tends to show some nerves in the first set, and sometimes fails to recover from unsteady play. On other occasions, Serena wallops her opponent without even blinking an eye.

    This has the potential to be the best match of the first week, or even the tournament, so tune in.

    My prediction is that Serena will pull through in three gritty sets en route to an eventual US Open championship.

2. Roger Federer Gets His First Real Test

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    Since Roger Federer has dropped to No. 3 in the world, reactions to his early-round results have drastically differed.

    In the past, people expected Federer to ease through the first couple rounds without breaking a sweat. Now, when Federer does just that, some act like it's a surprise and that he's not getting the respect he deserves. It seems like just because two players have surpassed him in the rankings, certain people forget that Federer is still a champion at heart.

    Regardless, Federer could be in for his first real challenge in No. 27 Marin Cilic. The Croatian fought past Ryan Harrison in the first round, and then systematically destroyed Bernard Tomic in the previous round. Cilic is 0-2 against Federer, but when he's at his best, he'll give any player on tour fits with his striking power.

    Expect Federer to look shaky in one the four sets, but win the other three and the match.

3. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Fernando Verdaso

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    The big-hitting righty, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, takes on the powerful lefty, Fernando Verdasco, in a slugfest on the Grandstand court Saturday.

    Both of these players love to exchange huge blows from the baseline, which means if both players are on, this is a can't-miss match. Tsonga and Verdasco both have the natural talent to win majors, but neither have been able to bring home a slam title in their career.

    Their only previous contest was an Australian Open quarterfinal match in 2009, which Verdasco took in four compelling sets. In the next match, Verdasco took Nadal to five sets, in one of the best matches of all time. Tsonga made his only appearance in a slam final the year before at the Australian.

    Tsonga is playing better tennis at this point, so he'll move through in four sets.

4. Young American Women Look to Pull off Major Upsets

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    Vania King and Sloane Stephens have big obstacles to overcome if they want to advance to the final 16 at the US Open.

    King, who is coming off a dominant win against No. 29 Jarmila Gajdosova, is faced with Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 1 player in the game. Wozniacki is hungry for her first major and would like to make quick work of the 22-year-old American.

    She did just that at this year's Australian Open, beating King 6-0, 6-1 in the second round. King will need to do something different in this contest if she wants to rattle the Dane.

    Stephens, who just registered the biggest win of her career by defeating Shahar Peer, has a match with former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic. The Serbian is looking to rejuvenate her career, and has only had to play one match thus far at the Open.

    Ivanovic is vulnerable to a mental breakdown, so Stephens needs to storm out of the gate if she wants to get into the head of Ivanovic.

    My predictions: Wozniacki weathers a tough first set against King and wins in two. Stephens takes the first set, but Ivanovic shows an improved mental game, winning in three.

5. Mardy Fish's Tallest Challenge

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    Mardy Fish is America's best hope for a US Open title, even though it's a long shot.

    Taking things one day at a time, Fish must first get to the Round of 16. To do so, he has to handle the barrage of serves that Kevin Anderson is set to fire his way.

    Anderson has been incredible at the Open thus far. In his second-round win against No. 29 Michael Llodra, he served 84 percent and struck 14 aces, losing only five games in the process.

    This will be a measuring-stick match for Fish, and I think he'll pass with flying colors.