- Victoria Azarenka meets compatriot Aryna Sabalenka who came back from a set and a break down to beat her here last year
- In men’s singles, perfectionist Alex De Minaur will face Richard Gasquet for the first time
- The Western & Southern Open will meet Vasek Pospisil to highlight Canadian renaissance in New York
NEW YORK, USA – The R64 matches will be completed on Day 4 at US Open. We take a look at three of the best ones on today’s schedule.
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Aryna Sabalenka  v Victoria Azarenka | H2H: Sabalenka leads 1-0
One of eight players who have held the WTA World No.1 singles ranking in this year’s draw, Victoria Azarenka places fifth for wins at US Open (35-12). Ranked No.27, her highest position since returning to the tour from maternity leave in 2017, she’s contesting her 50th major this fortnight. Unseeded and looming, the former World No.1 and two-time runner-up in Flushing Meadows will bid for a revenge in the second-round clash.
She will meet her compatriot Aryna Sabalenka who came back from a set and a break down to win a first-round, three-set battle in Louis Armstrong Stadium last year. They haven’t met in singles after that clash, although they were on the opposite of the net in the women’s doubles final in 2019 here. The No.5 seed and Elise Mertens won the title beating Azarenka and the World No.1 Ashleigh Barty.
After her first round victory, Azarenka said this match will be a great challenge and a huge opportunity to see where her actual level is. It’s hard to disagree.
Prediction: Azarenka in three sets
Alex De Minaur  v Richard Gasquet | First Meeting
Relieved but not completely satisfied after his first-round victory, Alex De Minaur aims to improve his level against Frenchman Richard Gasquet who needed a couple of tiebreaks to beat 41-year-old Croatian Ivo Karlovic. The Australian, a two-time Next Gen ATP Finals competitor, won his first three ATP Tour titles last year. Before the lockdown, he dealt with an abdominal tear that forced him to miss six weeks withdrawing from Adelaide and the Australian Open after the ATP Cup.
The Australian is gradually rediscovering his usual intensity on court. Last week, he won the Western & Southern Open doubles title moving another step ahead in his peculiar journey in the world of tennis. His longtime coach Adolfo Gutierrez helped to keep him grounded and focussed on the important things. For a coach, working with a player like him who enjoys the work he puts in and lets the court speak for him must be rewarding.
Born in Sydney from an Uruguayan father and a Spanish mother, he moved to Alicante as a 5-year-old and split time growing up between Spain and Australia. Mixing the best from those countries, he’s known as a funny, chilled out guy off the court, and an incredible fighter on court. If you really want to beat him, you’re going to have to put him down.
Prediction: De Minaur in straight sets
Vasek Pospisil v Milos Raonic  | H2H: Pospisil leads 4-3 (ITF included)
For the first time since 1959 US Championships, four Canadian men moved to the second round of a Grand Slam tournament. The eight professional derby between veterans Milos Raonic and Vasek Pospisil, who played the first ATP all-Canadian final at 2014 Washington, sounds like of a proper celebration.
Raonic won that match, clinching his maiden ATP 500 title but in their professional rivalry Pospisil is 4-3 ahead although most of his victories came at lower-tier events. The 30-year-old from Vancouver beat his countryman in three ITF Futures tournaments in 2009 and 2010, including the final of the 2010 Canada F3 in Sherbrooke. His only Tour-level success in their head-to-head series dates back to the second round at 2018 European Open in Antwerp.
Raonic took his first win in 2010 at a ATP Challenger Tour event in Lexington and famously defeated the actual World No.94 a semifinal match at the 2013 Rogers Cup in Montreal. They were the first homegrown semifinalist at the tournament since 1969 and Raonic became the first Canadian to reach the Rogers Cup final since 1958.
They began to face each other as under-14 and continued throughout their entire junior career. Predictably, there’s a bit more emotion and tension whenever they meet again. Raonic, ranked 18th in the world, came into the U.S. Open on a high after advancing to the final of the Western & Southern Open last week at the same venue. He failed to take his chances after a stunning first set over top seed Novak Djokovic, but he can bring enough confidence to win the derby.
World No. 94 Pospisil, who left the ATP Player Council supporting Djokovic’s initiative to create a new player’s association, helped Canada reach the 2019 Davis Cup final. His resurgence continued in 2020 as he clinched his second career final in Montpellier before the COVID-19 pandemic forced the suspension of the Tour.
Prediction: Raonic in four sets
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