All eyes on Serena: US Open Three to See
By Jake Davies
- Here are our three matches to look out for on Day 2 of the US Open
- Fernando Verdasco vs Stan Wawrinka 
- Serena Williams  vs Ekaterina Makarova
- Camila Giorgi vs Samantha Stosur 
NEW YORK, USA – No pressure, but all the focus will be on World No. 1 Serena Williams, as she starts her campaign for a 23rd Grand Slam title – and to hold on to her ranking, but who else are we keeping an eye on?
Fernando Verdasco vs Stan Wawrinka  H2H: Verdasco leads 3-2
The third seed Wawrinka plays Verdasco for the first time on a hard court on Day 2 of the US Open. The left-handed Verdasco offers a stern examination for Wawrinka if he truly believes he can pick up his third Grand Slam singles trophy inside the next two weeks.
Wawrinka has had a poor pattern of results since his semi-final finish at the French Open earlier this year. A pattern that reflects early loss after early loss, including a loss in the second round of Wimbledon and another early exit in Cincinnati to Grigor Dimitrov. Over the course of his career, Wawrinka has found it difficult to apply himself to every tournament, and it shows in his up and down results from week to week on the ATP Tour.
Verdasco is similar to Wawrinka in that aspect. You can never really predict how Verdasco will play from match by match, and that has been one of the problematic features to his game during the Spaniard’s career. Verdasco, who sits inside the Top 50, has the game to trouble the very best, but also is liable to losing to players outside the Top 100 when the going gets tough.
Verdasco leads the H2H 3-2, which includes an important win in 2016 on the grass courts in Queen’s, London.
This first rounder will be scheduled on Arthur Ashe in the day session. The court is apparently playing considerably slower, which I think benefits Wawrinka. The Swiss is not the greatest of defenders, so it gives him more time to find his feet and wind up his explosive one-handed backhand.
Wawrinka is playing far from his best and has not had the best preparation coming into the US Open. I think Verdasco will win this one in a close five set match.
Prediction: Verdasco in five sets.
Serena Williams  vs Ekaterina Makarova H2H: Williams leads 4-1
Serena Williams was just one match away from losing her World No.1 ranking at Cincinnati two weeks ago. Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber missed out on that accolade after losing to Karolina Pliskova in the final, but she can still claim the World No.1 from Williams at the US Open.
Makarova is an extremely dangerous player for Williams to meet in the first round of a Grand Slam. Just two years ago at the US Open, Williams and Makarova were contesting a grand slam semi-final, which further emphasises the quality that Makarova possesses. The unseeded Makarova has been working her way back to the top of the women’s game following an unfortunate right leg injury that stifled any further ranking progression.
This time last year, Williams was competing for the chance to hold all four grand slams in a calendar year, therefore this time around it does not feel like such a pressurised situation for her. With that being said, there is still a lot to play for. She is still bidding to overtake Steffi Graf’s Grand Slam title haul of 22 and would love to keep hold of that No.1 ranking for even longer.
Prediction: Serena Williams in 2 sets.
Camila Giorgi vs Samantha Stosur  H2H: First meeting
The flat ball-striker Giorgi takes on 2011 US Open champion Stosur in one of the more appealing tennis matches of the first round. Flushing Meadows is a place where Giorgi has performed well at in the past. In 2013, she knocked out Caroline Wozniacki in the third round en route to a rare fourth round showing at a Grand Slam.
Giorgi will strike with ferocious power from start to finish and she firmly believes that that game plan is the only game plan. You will never see her revert to a different strategy, which some argue is part of her downfall at times.
Stosur’s strategy will be to try and put off Giorgi with the amount of heavy spin she can apply to the tennis ball. It is important that she keeps the ball out of the hitting zone of Giorgi, as Stosur could be in for a long night if she allows Giorgi to get too comfortable in this match up.
Prediction: Stosur in 3 sets.
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