- Grigor Dimitrov aims to revenge his Australian Open second-round defeat to Tommy Paul
- No.10 Andrey Rublev will meet Jeremy Chardy, who has suffered 14 career first-round loss at Grand Slam level
- In women’s singles, Serena Williams will play Kristie Ahn who lost to Dinara Safina in 2008 in her lone previous Top-10 clash. Serena bids to tie Australia’s Margaret Court on 24 Grand Slam singles titles, the all-time record
NEW YORK, USA – On Day 2, the first-round matches will be completed at the US Open. We pick three key matches for Day 2 that have caught our attention.
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Grigor Dimitrov  v Tommy Paul | H2H: Paul leads 1-0
Thirty years ago, Andre Agassi made a fashion statement at the US Open wearing an outfit with a rebellious design that broke the rules of classical, vintage tennis fashion. Grigor Dimitrov, like the Brit Kyle Edmund, is at the forefront of a remake of that collection.
Wearing that reinvented outfit defined as outrageous at the time, the highest-ranked Bulgarian player ever will open his campaign facing Tommy Paul. The American, who spent the quarantine period with longtime friend Reilly Opelka discovering a common passion for modern art, beat him in their lone meeting at the Australian Open. In Melbourne, the former Roland Garros junior champion and US Open junior finalist, posted his first five-set win against the Bulgarian en route to a third-round finish. That was also Dimitrov’s earliest exit in Melbourne since 2013.
Following the Tour resumption, Dimitrov reached the second round at the Cincinnati Masters, maintaining his name although it was played in Flushing Meadows, while Paul saved 6 match points before falling on the seventh to Ricardas Berankis in his opening match.
Both players had a memorable week in Acapulco. The Bulgarian reached the semi-finals, the American earned the biggest win of his career over No. 7 Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals as a qualifier. As a consequence, he broke into Top 60 and achieved career-high No. 57 the following week.
Prediction: Dimitrov in four sets
Jeremy Chardy v Andrey Rublev  | H2H: Rublev leads 4-1 (inc. Challengers)
In one of the most intriguing first-round clashes, the No.10 seed Andrey Rublev faces Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. They’re tied 1-1 in their Tour-level previous meetings, but the Russian won the first three meetings at Challenger level.
Last week, in his first match since last January, Chardy lost to rising Finnish Emil Ruusuvuori in ATP Masters 1000 Cincinnati qualifying. Against Rublev, he bids to avoid his 15th Grand Slam first-round loss.
The Russian started the season winning 11 straight matches. He won titles in Doha and Adelaide, becoming the first man since 2004 with titles in both the first weeks of the year. That streak brought him to achieve a career-high No. 14 in the ATP Rankings on 17 February. Along with 2019 runner-up Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov, he completed the first Russian trio in Top 15 in the ATP Rankings history since 1973.
Those results testified that Rublev isn’t just a talented ball-striker. He has the work ethic to back it up, and more relevantly he learned to accept uncontrollable situations. This ability proved key, not only as he worked on his game during the pandemic.
Prediction: Rublev in straight sets
Kristie Ahn v Serena Williams  | First meeting
Serena Williams stubbornly restarts her quest for the record 24th Grand Slam singles crown to join Margaret Court. Since the restart, all the five matches she contested, including the 31st clash against his sister Venus, have been decided in three sets. Making her 20th appearance at US Open where she is a six-time champion, Serena will meet World No.96 Kristie Ahn for the first time. Moving to the second round, she will surpass Chris Evert for most US Open wins in the Open Era.
Serena is contesting her 75th Grand Slam main draw seeded No.3 this fortnight. She has been seeded on all but two of her appearances in New York (exceptions were debut in 1998 and 2006). Ahead of her opening clash, she owns a 47-14 record against fellow Americans at the majors, 21-4 at the US Open where she never lost in the first round.
Her opponents are not as awed by facing her, as they were during her best years. Last week she received a clear evidence even before losing to Maria Sakkari wasting a 7-5 5-3 lead, when she needed two hours and 48 minutes to beat Arantxa Rus. That was her longest match since losing to Virginie Razzano at 2012 Roland Garros.
Being Serena could be enough, anyway, against Ahn, appearing in her sixth Grand Slam main draw. The World No.96 came back to Flushing Meadows where she reached the fourth round as a wild card last season. Before the 2019 US Open, she hadn’t won a match in a major.
She will face a Top-10 player for just the second time in her career after losing, as a 16-year-old debutante at 2008 US Open, to Dinara Safina.
Prediction: Serena Williams in straight sets
Play continues on Day 2 of the US Open at 11am (4pm BST).
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