U.S. Open Day 1 matches to watch: Maria Sharapova opens night session
NEW YORK -- Day 1 of the U.S. Open kicks off at 11 a.m. ET Monday, with the top half of the men's draw and bottom half of the women's draw in action. Click here for the full order of play. Tennis Channel begins live coverage at 11 a.m. ET, ESPN will pick up coverage at 1 p.m. ET, and ESPN2 will handle primetime coverage starting at 6 p.m. ET. Matches on the tournament's seven show courts (Arthur Ashe Stadium, Louis Armstrong Stadium, Grandstand, Court 17, Court 5, and the non-Hawkeye courts of Court 11 and Court 13) can also be streamed at USOpen.org.
Maria Sharapova opens the night session on Ashe: Maria Sharapova has a potentially tough first-round match against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko (first night match, Arthur Ashe Stadium). Kirilenko was ranked in the top 10 last July but injuries have limited her play and she's dropped to No. 113. She has not played a tournament since Wimbledon, where she beat Sloane Stephens in the first round in straight sets. Sharapova leads their head-to-head 5-2, with Kirilenko getting the better of her at the Australian Open in 2010. One of their most memorable matches came at the BNP Paribas Open in 2012, when Kirilenko got called for a hindrance when she banged her racket like a hockey stick as Sharapova set up for a shot.
"It's one thing if you do it once, but I think she did it three or four times," Sharapova said at the time. "That's a whole 'nother story. It's not like a hockey puck or something. She forgot, I think, the sport." At the time the comment seemed to be a slight dig at Kirilenko, who was dating Alexander Ovechkin.
Venus Williams and Kimiko Date Krumm in a battle for the ages: The two oldest women in the draw will face off in the first round as Williams, 34, takes on Date Krumm, 43, on Arthur Ashe Stadium (second match). Venus has a reasonable shot at making the final if she can find the form that took her to the Rogers Cup final in Montreal a few weeks ago. That week she beat her sister Serena in three sets and proved she could play back-to-back three setters to beat some of the game's best and recover physically without any off days. This match should be a good indicator as to how Venus will play in New York.
Venus leads the head-to-head 3-0 but two of their three matches have gone deep into a third set. The best one came at Wimbledon in 2012, with Venus winning 6-7(8), 6-3, 8-6. Their last match came in Miami last year, where Venus won 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4. Expect to see some very flat hitting.
Novak Djokovic looks for a clean start: Djokovic has played just four matches since winning Wimbledon and getting married in July, but he hasn't played particularly well in any of them (he won two and lost two). The No. 1-seed is hoping to peak at the U.S. Open, where he's made the final the last four years. He faces Argentina's Diego Schwartzman, No. 79, for the first time (second night match, Ashe Stadium).
Ireland's James McGee is the early feel-good story: The 27-year-old from Dublin, ranked No. 194, qualified for his first Slam and will make his ATP debut on Monday after six years of toiling away in the sport's lower ranks and trying to make it as a pro. His blog has always been a great read and his reaction after winning his final qualifying match on Friday says it all. That was his Grand Slam final. McGee plays Aleksandr Nedovyesov in the first match on Court 13.
Matches to watch
Andy Murray vs. Robin Haase (second match, Louis Armstrong Stadium): The last time these two played at the U.S. Open, Murray came back from two-sets to love down to win 6-7(5), 2-6, 6-2, 6-0, 6-4 in 2011. It was a thoroughly entertaining but terrible match from both men. They combined for 104 unforced errors.
Sloane Stephens vs. Annika Beck (third match, Louis Armstrong Stadium): Stephens has been playing better, more aggressive tennis under new coach Thomas Hogstedt. She should get past the 20-year-old German, who has been a young name to watch for some time.
Donald Young vs. Blaz Kavcic (third match, Grandstand): Young has a great draw if he can take advantage of it. He made his first ATP semifinal in three years this month at the Citi Open and has made the third round at two of the three Slams this year. The two have never played a main draw match but Kavcic, ranked No. 91, beat Young in straight sets two years ago in a qualifying match.
Caroline Wozniacki vs. Magdalena Rybarikova (fourth match, Grandstand): This match looked a lot trickier before Rybarikova picked up a leg injury last week en route to the Connecticut Open final, where she lost in straight sets to Petra Kvitova. Assuming she's still hampered -- she'll have just 48 hours between that final and her first round match in New York -- I don't think Rybarikova will have enough in the tank to bother Wozniacki.
Nick Kyrgios vs. Mikhail Youzhny (first match, Court 17): Can Kyrgios back up his Wimbledon run with another upset? This is a great test for him and the atmosphere on Court 17 is a perfect venue for the charismatic Australian to mount a charge.
On-site special: Anastasia Rodionova vs. Camila Giorgi (third match, Court 6). The match is not on a television court, which means only those on site who park themselves alongside Court 6 will be able to see and hear the hot-headed Rodionova pop off to anyone who will listen as she plays one of the most dangerous unseeded players in the draw. If Court 6 is packed out, move over to Court 10 where 17-year-old Belinda Bencic takes on Yanina Wickmayer (first match, Court 10).