A look at the key matchups to watch on Day 3 of the U.S. Open
Fabio Fognini (32) vs. Pablo Cuevas
This second round matchup will feature two evenly matched players. Pablo Cuevas has one of the best backhands on tour and has had some notable success, including a victory at the 2008 French Open in doubles and a career-high ranking of 21. Fognini, the 32nd seed, has been a regular in the 3rd and 4th rounds of Grand Slams. A top-20 level talent, Fognini looked unstable during his first round match against Steve Johnson. This match will likely go the distance, and could go either way.
Prediction: Cuevas in five, but Fognini could contend if he is focused
Grigor Dimitrov (17) vs. Mikhail Kukushkin
Kukushkin is a relatively unknown player from Kazakhstan. However, he has been playing well and scored a big win over Thanasi Kokkinakis in a Davis Cup tie with Australia in July. Dimitrov has spent much of the past year in or close to the top ten and regularly contends with the world’s best players. Although once a Wimbledon semifinalist, Dimitrov’s Grand Slam results generally have yet to live up to his skills. He delivered a clinical dismantling of Matt Ebden in the first round—look for him to go far at Flushing Meadows.
Prediction: Dimitrov in straight sets
Bethanie Mattek-Sands vs. Coco Vandeweghe
Vandeweghe won the U.S. Open girls’ tournament in 2008. She was touted then as the next great American player. While she has not quite lived up to initial expectation, she has become a solid professional player, earning her career-high and current ranking of 32nd. Notably, she upset 29th seed and promising young American Sloane Stephens in the first round. She will contend with Bethanie Mattek-Sands for a place in the third round. Sands, a veteran known for her eccentric on-court outfits, will be ready to play and could push Vandeweghe to go the distance.
Prediction: Vandeweghe in three
Lauren Davis vs. Ekaterina Makarova (13)
Twenty-one-year-old Lauren Davis is a rising player who has posted several impressive wins this year including a defeat of Eugenie Bouchard in Charleston. She will need to muster similar resolve if she is to compete with 13th seeded Makarova. Makarova is a top player who reached the semifinals of both this year’s Australian Open and last year’s U.S. Open. She has also won the French and U.S. Open in doubles. Davis has a tall task ahead, but could contend if she plays her best.
Prediction: Makarova in straight sets, but Davis could force a third
Sam Groth vs. Tommy Robredo (26)
Groth, while not a household name, put together a respectable summer defeating back-to-back top-20 players while making the quarterfinals in Washington. Athletic and powerful, he is also known for hitting the fastest serve at this year’s Wimbledon. Although he is approaching the end of his career, Robredo has maintained a high level of play reaching the final of Bastad and the quarterfinals of Cincinnati this summer and earning the 26th seed at the Open. Groth’s physical strength and confidence from his U.S. Open Series results could make for a formidable test for Robredo.
Prediction: Robredo in four