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Wednesday September 7th, 2011

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has beaten Roger Federer twice in a row, including at Wimbledon this year. (EPA/Landov)

With rain washing out play on Tuesday, Wednesday's scheduled order of play is jam-packed. The weather forecast doesn't inspire much optimism, but here are the Day 10 matches to watch should play resume. You can read about the postponed Day 9 matches here.

Roger Federer vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (second night match, Ashe): The U.S. Open is Federer's last chance to pocket a Slam in 2011 (he hasn't had a major-less calendar year since 2002). He was ruthlessly surgical in his 6-1, 6-2, 6-0 victory against Juan Monaco on Monday night, a display that recalled his aura of invincibility and inevitability. But it is undoubtedly easier to unleash your arsenal knowing the other guy has absolutely nothing with which to hurt you. It's quite another when you face the guy who came back from two sets down to oust you at your beloved Wimbledon, and then backed it up last month in Montreal with a three-set win.

The most impressive aspect about Tsonga's recent streak against Federer? How he's been able to hold his nerve. In Montreal, the Frenchman won the first set in a tiebreaker, and at Wimbledon he gained an early break in the fifth set and was able to withstand Federer's onslaught and hold the rest of the match. All that is to say, Big Jo ain't scared of Fed.

Caroline Wozniacki vs. Andrea Petkovic (third match, Armstrong): Petkovic, the 10th seed, is into her third Slam quarterfinal of the year. Wozniacki seemed on her way out to Svetlana Kuznetsova before the Russian imploded and succumbed to the world No. 1's consistency, fitness and ability to compete. The two have split their meetings in 2011, with Petkovic beating a fatigued Wozniacki in Miami (and then sharing the playbook), and Wozniacki returning the favor a month later on the Stuttgart clay.

After having to rally from a set down against Zheng Jie in the second round, Petkovic has cruised into the quarterfinal. Wozniacki has tried to start her matches more aggressively, but when things get tight she abandons that game plan and reverts to relying on her defensive game. That might have worked against the wobbly Kuznetsova, but it won't be as effective against Petkovic, who has transformed herself into one of the mentally stronger players on Tour. That said, I'm tipping Wozniacki. She'll have confidence after surviving the last round, and Petkovic played the perfect match to beat her in Miami. I'm not convinced that Petko can pull it off again. But this one will be fun. I'm looking forward to an intense battle between two great competitors.

Serena Williams vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (first night match, Ashe): Everyone keeps waiting for the 20-year-old Pavlyuchenkova to break out. The talented ball-striker, who has put together back-to-back consistent seasons, had a great chance to make the French Open semifinals this year, but she blinked in the end and let Francesca Schiavone work her magic. She avenged that loss in the last round and now the 17th seed is up against Williams, a player for whom the "presumptive favorite" label seems a blatant undersell. It's been fun, Pavs, but the run stops here. Her only chance is to blast her way past Serena, but if she's off, this could be a very quick match. Novak Djokovic vs. Janko Tipsarevic (second match, Ashe): Tipsarevic loves talking about the psychology of winning, and he has said that belief is the most important mental component for him. So does Tipsarevic truly believe he can beat his countryman? It seems like half his Twitter messages are ones praising Djokovic and telling the world that his Davis Cup teammate is the greatest sportsman Serbia has ever seen. But you have to think that all of the focus on the younger Serb has taken its toll on Tipsarevic and that he would love to make his own headlines back home. If Tipsarevic can pull this off, I'm printing up "Et tu, Janko?" T-shirts and hawking them in Midtown.

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