US Open Tennis 2021: TV Schedule, Start Times for Monday Night Draw
The 2021 U.S. Open gets underway on Monday, and the prime-time draw features a handful of top contenders in men's and women's singles play.
Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev and Aryna Sabalenka will all play in the evening matches on Day 1. Medvedev is on the opposite side of the bracket from No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is looking to become the first men's player to win all four Grand Slam titles in a single year since Rod Laver in 1969.
Sabalenka and Osaka are ranked No. 2 and No. 3, respectively. They will be fighting to reach the final, where they could end up facing off with No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, who has won five singles titles this year, including Wimbledon.
Prime-time coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN2. All first-round matches can be live-streamed on ESPN.com or through the ESPN app. Here's a preview of the evening lineup.
Marie Bouzkova vs. No. 3 Naomi Osaka
Osaka will be playing in her first Grand Slam match since defeating Patricia Maria Tig in the first round of the French Open in May. One day after she was fined for skipping press conferences in Paris, Osaka withdrew from the tournament to focus on her mental health.
She then skipped Wimbledon entirely before representing Japan at the Summer Games in Tokyo, where she lost in the third round. She also suffered a shock second-round exit at the Western & Southern Open earlier this month.
The U.S. Open offers Osaka a prime opportunity to remind the world why she's one of the sport's brightest stars. She's had plenty of success at Flushing Meadows, winning the title in 2018 and 2020. Osaka also excelled on the hard courts of the Australian Open earlier this year, defeating Jennifer Brady in the final to win her fourth Grand Slam title.
If she can draw upon those experiences, Osaka shouldn't have much of a problem in the spotlight Monday night. Marie Bouzkova, 23, is ranked 87th in the world and lost her only previous meeting with Osaka. If the booming serve and the confidence is there, Osaka should win this one with ease.
Richard Gasquet vs. No. 2 Daniil Medvedev
If anyone has a shot at denying Djokovic a calendar Grand Slam, it's Medvedev.
The world No. 2 has been playing well in August, winning the Canadian Open and reaching the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open. He's already proved he can be a threat at this tournament, pushing Rafael Nadal to the brink in the 2019 final before losing in five sets. The 25-year-old Russian is also well aware of the mission for the men's field this time around: stop Djokovic.
“We're here to not let him win the U.S. Open. If I talk just for myself, I want to win the U.S. Open," said Medvedev, per ATPTour.com. "I don't care if it's in the final against a qualifier or against Novak. I just want to win this tournament.”
For Medvedev, the road to a maiden Grand Slam title begins with tour veteran Richard Gasquet. The 35-year-old Frenchman's best days are well behind him. His last deep run at a Grand Slam was a quarterfinal appearance at the French Open in 2016. This year, he's suffered second-round exits at the French and at Wimbledon.
Medvedev is tall and confident on the baseline and solid defensively. Look for him to wear down Gasquet and move on to the second round.
Nina Stojanovic vs. No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka
Sabalenka has had an excellent year of tennis, rising from No. 10 to No. 2 in the world rankings. After a few years on the periphery, she finally showed she can be a legitimate threat at major tournaments with her run to the semifinals at Wimbledon. The 23-year-old out of Belarus credits her work with a sports psychologist for her breakthrough.
"Only right now, I start to be honest with her about the Grand Slams, and I start to maybe to be more open with her, saying, like, all my problems on the Grand Slams, that actually I was afraid of something," said Sabalenka, per Brian Mahoney of the Associated Press (h/t the Seattle Times).
Sabalenka should be feeling pretty confident going into her Day 1 matchup against Nina Stojanovic. According to MatchStat, she's a perfect 6-0 against the Serbian, although her most recent win was back in 2017. Their games have undoubtedly evolved since then, but Sabalenka is the more consistent tour player.
No. 18 Roberto Bautista Agut vs. Nick Kyrgios
Nick Kyrgios always commands attention at big tournaments, but the 26-year-old has recently hit a particularly rough patch in what's been a rough year overall.
The mercurial Australian is ranked 86th coming into the U.S. Open. He's 7-6 on the year and has lost in the first round in each of his last two tournaments. Last week, a knee injury kept him from competing at the Winston-Salem Open.
Agut is typically one of the more dependable players in men's tennis, having firmly established himself as a top-30 player for several years now. However, the 33-year-old Spaniard is going through a difficult stretch of his own. He's 2-4 since Wimbledon, including a first-round loss to Grigor Dimitrov at the Western & Southern Open this month.
Agut has also had early stumbles at two of this year's Grand Slams. Unranked Radu Albot took him out in the first round of the Australian Open, and qualifier Henri Laaksonen knocked him out of the second round at the French Open.
Both players in this matchup are desperate for some success on a big stage. If Kyrgios' knee is no longer bothering him, this could be one of the more intriguing battles on Day 1.