Thursday September 1st, 2016

NEW YORK – The first batch of third round matches will be played on Friday at the U.S. Open. Here are the matches and storylines you’ll want to keep an eye on, whether you're watching on TV or roaming around the grounds in Flushing Meadows. Play begins at 11 a.m. ET and coverage begins at 1 p.m. ET on ESPN. The full television and broadcast schedule can be found here. Full order of play for Friday can be found here.

American men look to advance

No. 20-seed John Isner and No. 26-seed Jack Sock dominated in the second round, while Ryan Harrison picked up a huge upset win over a hobbled Milos Raonic. All three will be in action on Friday, though Sock’s showdown with seventh-seeded Marin Cilic should be the best of the bunch. The 23-year-old is already playing in his third career third-round match at the U.S. Open, but has never advanced to the round of 16.

Isner will face Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund, who knocked off No. 13-seed Richard Gasquet in the first round, and Harrison draws the resurgent Marcos Baghdatis. It’s anyone’s guess how many of these Americans advance.

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CiCi Bellis is back

Remember CiCi Bellis, who upset 2014 Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in the U.S. Open that year at the age of 15? Well, she’s back, and she’s got a whale of a match coming up.

Bellis, who earned a hard-fought three-set victory over fellow American Shelby Rogers in the second round on Wednesday, will next face World No. 2 Angelique Kerber. The 28-year-old German has been in top form this year, winning the Australian Open in January and the Wimbledon final in July, so the 17-year-old California native is faced with a tough test. But, CiCi has a way of making things interesting and she should draw a nice crowd.

Must-see match of the day

No. 8-seed Madison Keys had a late night in her opening match on Monday late, recording the latest finish for a women's match in U.S. Open history when she closed out a win over fellow American Alison Riske at 1:48 a.m. Keys finished her match much earlier in the second round, cruising to a 6-1, 6-1 win over 16-year-old Kayla Day in just 48 minutes on Wednesday. But on Friday, Keys will face a tougher test in Naomi Osaka.

Japan's Osaka, just 18, took down No. 28-seed CoCo Vandeweghe in the first round and has her sights set on slaying another American. Osaka, whose claim to fame is defeating Samantha Stosur in her WTA tour debut at the 2014 Bank of the West Classic at the age of 16, is a good counter-puncher, which will come in handy against the powerful Keys.

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The Gael Monfils show

Like the colorful Nick Kyrgios, Monfils will be a mainstay in the day’s top matches until he is finished playing. What will he do next? He’s broken a baseline clock and hit an effortless between-the-legs shot in his first two matches, perhaps he will somersault into a winner.

Aside from his entertaining style of play, Monfils draws a capable opponent in Nicolas Almagro. The Spaniard took down 18th-seed Pablo Cuevas and could put an end to the Monfils experience.

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Novak Djokovic’s right arm

Djokovic moved into the third round of the tournament on Wednesday thanks to a walkover, after his second-round opponent Jiri Vesely withdrew with a left forearm injury. But the top seed on the men’s side has been dealing with his own ailments. He experienced pain in his right arm during his first-round win over Jerzy Janowicz, which could affect him against Mikhail Youzhny in the third round. He’ll be hoping the extra days off will help him heal the arm that caused him to lose his first set in a Grand Slam first round since 2010. Should he get by Youzhny, he’ll reach the fourth round and face a potential matchup with Isner. Youzhny, a quarterfinalist at the U.S. Open in 2006, re-entered the top 100 this season and knocked off No. 28-seed Martin Klizan in the first round. This match could be a bit too cozy for Djokovic’s liking.

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