Wednesday August 31st, 2011

Venus Williams vs. Sabine Lisicki (third match, Ashe): Here's where the rubber meets the road for Venus, who showed some rust in her opening match against Vesna Dolonts before cruising to victory. Lisicki, seeded 22nd, is riding a wave of confidence after winning the title in Dallas last week, continuing the form that took her to the semifinals at Wimbledon last month. But the 21-year-old German has tended to blink against the legends, first versus Maria Sharapova at Wimbledon and then Serena Williams in Stanford, Calif. If she can control her nerves, she has more than enough game to advance. But you can never underestimate the intimidation factor that comes with playing Venus Williams in New York on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Andy Murray vs. Somdev Devvarman (second match, Ashe): We've seen Novak Djokovic (great), Roger Federer (good) and Rafael Nadal (...) in the opening round, and now we get our first look at the man who's scratching and clawing to earn his spot in the Grand Slam sweepstakes. The 64th-ranked Devvarman can challenge the Scot, but in the end Andy Murray's toughest early-round opponent is, as always, Andy Murray. Since making the finals here in 2008, he's suffered a fourth-round loss to Marin Cilic in 2009 and a third-round loss to Stanislas Wawrinka last year. Sure, advancing is the top priority, but a good performance will send a message to the field that he's peaking at the right time and ready to win his first major.

John Isner vs. Marcos Baghdatis (fourth match, Armstrong): Isner has beaten Baghdatis twice this summer, including last week en route to the title in Winston-Salem, N.C. But Cyprus' Baghdatis has always had great support in New York, and if his fans come energized, the big-serving American might feel like he's playing a Davis Cup match on foreign soil.

Marion Bartoli vs. Christina McHale (second match, Grandstand): Is McHale for real? I've spent the summer pondering this question. The 19-year-old American is the youngest player in the top 100 (at No. 55) and she defeated Caroline Wozniacki and Svetlana Kuznetsova recently. You never know what you're going to get from the eighth-seeded Bartoli on any given day, so McHale has a shot at another notable scalp. Courtney's Pet Picks: Juan Martin del Potro vs. Filippo Volandri (second match, Armstrong); Coco Vandeweghe vs. Samantha Stosur (third match, Armstrong); Anabel Medina Garrigues vs. Laura Robson (first match, Court 13).

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