Three Things To Watch: Day 8
With a recommitted approach to fitness, Mardy Fish (above) is 30 pounds lighter, back in the Top 25 and one match from the U.S. Open quarters. (AP)
SI.com’s daily menu of must-see happenings at the U.S. Open (all times Eastern).
• Richard Gasquet vs. No. 17 Gael Monfils (Louis Armstrong Stadium, 11 a.m.): The business end of this year's U.S. Open kicks off with a mouth-watering fourth-round clash between French compatriots. Gasquet is a former top-40 player with top-10 talent who is just returning to form after his successful appeal of a two-year ban for drugs in 2009. (His story: He inadvertenly consumed trace amounts of cocaine while kissing a woman in a Miami nightclub named Pamela, who'd been using the drug.) Back in the Round of 16 here for the first time since 2006, Gasquet is a natural-born shot-maker capable of hitting winners from anywhere on the court. The spingy, indefatigable Monfils plays the same way, lending further intrigue with a quarterfinal berth on the line. With two wins apiece in their four all-time meetings, today's winner is truly anyone's guess.
• No. 19 Mardy Fish vs. No. 3 Novak Djokovic (Arthur Ashe Stadium, not before 12:30 p.m.): An American journeyman with the occasional eye-opening result -- Remember that victory over then-No. 1 Roger Federer at Indian Wells in 2008? -- Fish recommitted himself to fitness after undergoing knee surgery last September and shed 30 pounds. The results have been manifest. He's gone 19-2 since Wimbledon and can match his best-ever showing at a Grand Slam with a victory today over the third-seeded Djokovic, who's made the semifinals or better here for the past three years.
• No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki vs. No. 14 Maria Sharapova (Arthur Ashe Stadium, 7 p.m.): The can't-miss matchup of the women's Round of 16 is a showdown between two of the three betting favorites, with the winner overtaking the fast lane for Saturday's final. Sharapova, the 2006 U.S. Open champion, has dropped just three games in her last two matches; the top-seeded Wozniacki has dropped three games overall. Neither has faced anyone nearly as talented as the other, so the advantage will go to the player who can raise her game accordingly. "I don't feel the pressure," Wozniacki said Saturday, revealing her placid world view. "You know, my time will come. If it won't come now, it will come tomorrow, so I'm not afraid of that." Others to watch: Kaia Kanepi vs. Yanina Wickmayer (Louis Armstrong Stadium, second match); No. 5 Robin Soderling vs. No. 21 Albert Montanes; No. 13 Jurgen Melzer vs. No. 2 Roger Federer (Arthur Ashe Stadium, last match).