- Three time Grand Slam champion Dominic Thiem faces former US Open champion Marin Cilic to reach the fourth round this fortnight
- Alex De Minaur faces Karen Khachanov in the only men’s singles clash of the day featuring two seeds among the Top 25
- Serena Williams awaits Sloane Stephens, who won her last three meetings against Americans at the majors
NEW YORK, USA – Three matches to see on Day 6 feature three US Open champions in the mix with Marin Cilic, Sloane Stephens and Serena Williams as our picks to watch.
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Dominic Thiem  v. Marin Cilic  | H2H: Thiem leads 2-0
Three-time Grand Slam finalist Dominic Thiem has to beat one of the few players outside of the Fab Four to win a major in the past decade, if he wants to continue his US Open campaign. The No.2 seed meets for the first time 2014 US Open champion Marin Cilic in a crowded day at Flushing Meadows.
The Austrian beat the No.31 in both their previous meetings, with both wins coming on hard courts. Players said that the courts are faster than normal this year in New York, and this could help the Croat, who came back to seal a Top-10 win for the first time since 2018 as he defeated Roberto Bautista Agut at this year’s Australian Open.
Thiem said in his press-conference after the second-round win: “Not from the players, but from an outside perspective, he’s underrated because he achieved almost everything that you can achieve as a tennis player: Grand Slam champion, [ATP] Masters 1000 champion, played two other Grand Slam finals. Definitely one of the best players of the past decade [and] a true champion. He’s always dangerous for a big and deep run in these big tournaments. He’s not a guy I want to face in the third round because he’s a former champion. He can beat anybody on a good day.”
Cilic maintained a higher first-point won percentage than the Austrian, but the second seed is among the most efficient players in the tournament on his second delivery so far. The No.2 seed moved through his first two matches without dropping a set. He’s playing aggressive tennis in New York, and he will need consistency and patience to counter Cilic’s booming serves. The Croat is expected to use serves and forehands to shorten the rallies, Thiem will look to extend the battles from the baseline and change the pace whenever he will have the chance to. Giving shape to his balls, the Austrian could force his opponent to defend, out of his comfort zone.
Prediction: Thiem in four sets.
Alex De Minaur  v Karen Khachanov  | No H2H
No.11 seed Karen Khachanov advanced to the quarter-finals last year at Roland Garros in his maiden major breakthrough. His extreme forehand grip could make his game more rewarding on clay, as he needs more time and more space to prepare that massive groundstroke. In the third-round clash against the “Demon” Alex De Minaur, the No.21 seed, he could measure his level on the quicker courts in New York. In the bottom half of the draw, it’s the only third-round clash among two seeds in the top-25.
The big-hitting and fast-moving Russian will face Aussie a tougher time drilling massive groundstrokes past the speedy Australian in their first meeting. Khachanov shows definite, constant and somewhat predictable schemes from the baseline. His opponent, elected Newcomer of the Year in 2018, can count on quick feet and on an even quicker brain. He can think out of the box, and he often does it during a match.
He’s flexible, and knows how to run to recover ball after ball, every time. If he can manage to make Khachanov hit more potential winners to seal a point, he can generate enough doubts to win. Otherwise, should Khachanov gain an initial lead, his mission will become almost impossible. So, the Russian has to make it short. The longer it will go, the better it will be for the Australian.
Prediction: De Minaur in five sets.
Serena Williams  v Sloane Stephens  | H2H: Serena leads 5-1
Serena Williams has advanced to her 72nd Grand Slam third round in her 75 major appearances. Owning a record 103 match wins in New York, the No.3 seed will meet No.26 seed Sloane Stephens in their seventh career meeting and second at Flushing Meadows. Serena won five of their six previous meeting, while Stephens beat her compatriot at 2013 Australian Open, in a controversial clash.
After the defeat, Serena tweeted “I made you”, a message that her opponent immediately considered directed to her. Later that year, in an interview in the May 13 issue of ESPN The Magazine, Sloane Stephens revealed that their relationship deteriorated after her win in Melbourne. She also debunked the belief of a close bond between them, confessing Serena was never her favourite player.
Since then though, there is at least a level of mutual acknowledgement of each other’s most recent achievements.
Williams said, after her second round match: “It’s an incredibly interesting match, because she’s actually a US Open champion. She’s a great player. You can’t win a Grand Slam and not be really, really, really, really, really good.”
Stephens said in her post-match press conference: “I’m kind of sad that we’re not playing in front of fans because it would be so fun. Thankful that we are playing in this time just in general. Obviously no fans, the atmosphere won’t be as big, but obviously a big opportunity to play against the greatest player in the world. So, yeah, unfortunate but still fortunate.”
The 23-time Grand Slam winner and the 2017 US Open champion met for the fourth time in a major, the first since 2015 Roland Garros. Serena could reach her 62nd Grand Slam fourth-round in her career. In New York, she has suffered a single loss at this stage, on her debut in 1998. The No.26 seed aims for her 70th major match win, and the first Top-10 victory since 2018 WTA Finals in Singapore.
Prediction: Serena in straight sets
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