US Open Tennis 2021: TV Schedule, Picks for Sunday Afternoon Draw
There have been some surprising results at the 2021 U.S. Open in recent days. And there could be plenty more upsets still to come at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York City.
The biggest shock in the men's singles tournament came Friday, when No. 3-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to unseeded Carlos Alcaraz in a third-round match. Tsitsipas was expected to be one of the top challengers to No. 1-seeded Novak Djokovic, who has rolled through the first three rounds in his pursuit of a calendar Grand Slam.
Even more surprises have occurred in women's singles play. On Friday, No. 3-seeded Naomi Osaka lost to unseeded Leylah Fernandez. Then on Saturday, No. 1-seeded Ashleigh Barty lost to unseeded Shelby Rogers, leaving the field wide-open.
Sunday's U.S. Open coverage will air on ESPN from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. ET and on ESPN2 from 7-11 p.m. ET. Here are some predictions for several notable matches from the early slate as the round of 16 gets underway.
No. 5 Elina Svitolina vs. No. 12 Simona Halep
These women have plenty of history with each other, having gone head-to-head eight times before. And although Elina Svitolina leads the series 5-3, don't discount Simona Halep in what should be a competitive round-of-16 matchup.
Svitolina hasn't faced any adversity at the U.S. Open. The Ukrainian won each of her three matches in straight sets, with her most impressive showing coming in the third round, when she defeated No. 25-seeded Daria Kasatkina 6-4, 6-2.
As for Halep, she won her first two matches in straight sets before facing a challenge in the third round. The Romanian outlasted No. 19-seeded Elena Rybakina 7-6 (11), 4-6, 6-3.
Even though Svitolina has been more dominant, Halep's win over Rybakina was impressive and showed that she's capable of making a deep run at the U.S. Open, where she reached the semifinals in 2015. Expect a back-and-forth match that goes the distance, with Halep beating Svitolina for the first time since the semifinals at Wimbledon in 2019.
Prediction: Halep wins in three sets.
No. 16 Angelique Kerber vs. Leylah Fernandez
Leylah Fernandez is coming off the biggest win of her tennis career. After winning her first two matches in straight sets, the 18-year-old upset Osaka in the third round, winning 5-7, 7-6 (2), 6-4. But things aren't going to be easy from here on out despite knocking off last year's U.S. Open champion.
In fact, every matchup for Fernandez the rest of the way is going to be a challenge, starting with her round-of-16 meeting with Kerber, a three-time Grand Slam winner and the 2016 U.S. Open champ.
Kerber has been tested so far, playing three sets in two of her first three matches. But the German veteran keeps finding ways to win. In the third round, she defeated Sloane Stephens, a fellow former U.S. Open champion, 5-7, 6-2, 6-3.
This has already been Fernandez's best showing at a major tournament, and she made a name for herself by taking down Osaka. She could be a contender to win Grand Slams in the future. However, Kerber's experience will be too much to overcome, and Fernandez's surprise run will end Sunday.
Prediction: Kerber wins in straight sets.
No. 2 Daniil Medvedev vs. No. 24 Dan Evans
Daniil Medvedev remains one of the top contenders to prevent Djokovic from winning this tournament. However, the competition is going to get tougher for the 25-year-old, who is still looking to win his first Grand Slam title.
Through the first three rounds, Medvedev has yet to lose a set. Not only that, but none of his opponents have won more than four games in a set. After reaching the final at the Australian Open earlier this year, Medvedev is again having a ton of success at a hard-court major.
Dan Evans will be Medvedev's toughest competition yet, as the Brit will be the first seeded player he's faced. Although Evans hasn't played any seeded players, either, he's played 13 sets over his first three matches, including three that were decided by tiebreakers. So he's been tested a bunch to this point.
This time, though, Evans won't be playing a long match. Medvedev will make sure it doesn't go past three sets. The Russian is showing no signs of slowing down and won't face a real challenge until later in the tournament.
Prediction: Medvedev wins in straight sets.