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US Open Tennis: 5 Things to Watch for on Day 8

Tom LoughreyAnalyst IIISeptember 5, 2011

US Open Tennis: 5 Things to Watch for on Day 8

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    The first day of Week 2 at the US Open is today, and Day 8 has a full lineup of meaningful matches.

    Both world No. 1's will be in action on Monday, and Novak Djokovic won't even be in Arthur Ashe Stadium because of an overflow of quality competitors.

    The US Open has been a great tournament to watch thus far, but the best tennis is still yet to come. I've said before that I love the early rounds because some players put their entire soul into a match, but if two players match up well in the second week, it's simply amazing to watch.

    Here's a handful of events to prepare for on Monday at the Open.

1. Serena Williams Takes on Ana Ivanovic in a Matchup of Former No. 1's

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    Both Serena Williams and Ana Ivanovic are better players than their seeds would suggest.

    For Serena, it was injuries that prevented her from coming in with a proper seed. For Ivanovic, it was a lack of confidence that forced her ranking to dip. However, both players have made their way to the Round of 16 without dropping a set, suggesting that they're legitimate contenders for the title.

    Serena has been more impressive than her counterpart, already having beaten No. 4 Victoria Azarenka. Ivanovic is capable of some powerful tennis, but I fear for anyone who tries to get in the way of Serena at this tournament.

    Sorry Ana, Serena's just too focused for anyone to get in her way.

    My Prediction: Serena shoots out of the gates, and by the time Ivanovic gets settled in, it's too late. Serena wins in straight sets.

2. Two Dark-Horse Contenders Battle It out

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    Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Mardy Fish are both playing arguably the best tennis of their lives.

    It's slightly sad to see these two match up because it means one of them won't get a shot to pull a great upset. Neither player has surrendered a set at the Open, and neither looks ready to leave the tournament.

    Tsonga is coming off a semifinal run at Wimbledon, where he came back from a two sets to love deficit against Roger Federer in the quarters. Fish also performed well at the All-England Club, losing in the quarterfinals to Rafael Nadal.

    Since that tournament, Fish has made three tour finals and hasn't lost before the semifinals in any tournament. Fish, however, will fall behind in baseline rallies against Tsonga and will be forced to hit the net as often as possible. The only problem with that is that Tsonga is quick and capable of flattening out the ball on the run.

    My Prediction: Tsonga overpowers Fish in an entertaining four-set match.

3. Can Caroline Wozniacki Beat a Slam Champ En Route to a Major Title?

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    Caroline Wozniacki's opponent in the Round of 16 may be seeded lower than the Dane, but Svetlana Kuznetsova has a 2-0 edge in Grand Slam titles.

    Wozniacki would surely toss her No. 1 ranking to the side for another shot at a slam final. Kuznetsova would love to upend Wozniacki, having lost to her three consecutive times. Wozniacki holds a 4-2 record against the Russian, with a win at this round of the US Open just two years ago.

    Neither player has been on edge yet at the US Open, but I'm sure both players are set to engage in a mental and physical battle in this match. Neither player is overwhelmingly offensive, so prepare for a match that will probably cross the two-hour mark.

    My Prediction: Wozniacki loses the first set in a tiebreaker but fights back to win the match in three sets.

4. Will Novak Djokovic Break a Sweat?

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    No offense to Novak Djokovic's previous opponents at the tournament, but they're just not on the same level as the Serbian.

    Djokovic has made mincemeat of his three opponents thus far, only being broken three times at the Open. An even more impressive stat is in regards to Novak's return game, as he's only allowed his opponents to hold serve nine times, and eight of those games came from Nikolay Davydenko.

    Basically, Djokovic has stormed through the draw with zero issues thus far. On the other side of the net, Alexandr Dolgopolov is coming off an impressive showing against the always-dangerous Ivo Karlovic.

    However, Djokovic has only been on court for four hours and 21 minutes in three matches. Dolgopolov played for three hours and 20 minutes in his second-round match alone. He played for almost another three hours against Karlovic.

    Oh...and Djokovic is already a superior player.

    My Prediction: Djokovic gets through in three sets, although he will break a sweat.

5. Which Unseeded Players Have the Best Chance of Advancing?

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    Three unseeded players are in action on Monday. Let's look at each underdog's matchup and evaluate their chances.

    Juan Carlos Ferrero: Ferrero is up against No. 20 Janko Tipsarevic, with a spot in the quarterfinals on the line. Ferrero showed his guts in a comeback, five-set win over Gael Monfils, but that means nothing now.

    Ferrero is a gutsy player in outstanding shape, but he doesn't really pack a huge punch from the ground. However, his on-court intelligence will push him past Tipsarevic in five long sets.

    Carla Suarez Navarro: Suarez Navarro is set to play No. 10 Andrea Petkovic in the Round of 16. Suarez Navarro has reached the quarterfinals in two Grand Slams in her young career and just celebrated her 23rd birthday on Saturday.

    Her second match as a 23-year-old won't end well, as Petkovic will hit her off the court in two decisive sets.

    Juan Monaco: Monaco is faced with the tall task of trying to take down Roger Federer. Federer holds a 2-0 record against the Argentinian, with both matches being fairly close.

    However, Monaco is now getting his first taste of Federer at a Grand Slam. Even if Monaco is at his best, I give him a one percent chance of pulling out the W. Federer will sweep Monaco to the side in straight sets to make his 30th consecutive appearance in a Grand Slam quarterfinal.

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