Andy Roddick, Venus Williams among matches to watch on Day 2 of U.S. Open
If Day 1 was all about No. 1s, Day 2 highlights stalwarts who have been flying the flag for American tennis for years. Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams highlight the evening session on Ashe, but it's the day session that has us intrigued.
Here's what we're watching on Day 2, when we're hoping the rain stays away.
Andy Roddick (USA)  vs. Rhyne Williams (USA) (second match, Arthur Ashe Stadium): With his strong summer run, Roddick finds himself back as the No. 2 American. He'll take on an American qualifier in the opening round. The two have never played each other, which actually might play in Roddick's favor. It's no secret that among the American men Roddick is the alpha. That might not mean much on paper, but it means a great deal on court. Whether they mean to or not, there's a long history of younger Americans letting their respect for Roddick and all he's accomplished get in the way of unlocking their best tennis. In Williams' favor is the fact that he's already played and won three qualifying matches, meaning he's in form and confident. Roddick also has been nursing lingering back and shoulder injuries. But playing Roddick on Ashe is a different beast. Look for Roddick to serve big, and if that doesn't work, use a heavy kicker on his second serve. The balls are bouncing high on Ashe. His serve should set up his forehand nicely.
Venus Williams (USA) vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) (third match, Ashe Stadium): Given her draw, a healthy Williams has a great chance to make the semifinals. Her toughest test would be a second-round clash with Angelique Kerber. Yet last time we checked Williams wasn't healthy. Setting aside her Sjögren's syndrome, which she's learned to manage, she's dealing with a back injury that flared up in Cincinnati. She says she didn't hit a serve until a few days ago. If her serve -- one of her biggest weapons -- is compromised, so is her game. She should have enough here to get through the feisty Mattek-Sands, but keep an eye on Williams. She was serving in the 80s and 90s when her back bothered her two weeks ago.
Tomas Berdych (CZE)  vs. David Goffin (BEL) (first match, Louie Armstrong Stadium): On all metrics Berdych should always be a factor on hard courts, especially given his improvement over the last two years. He's struggled after making the French Open quarterfinals, but a final run last week in Winston-Salem might snap him out of his funk. Or it might not. He's got a tough draw against Goffin, who splashed onto the scene at the French Open. The young Belgian hasn't been dangerous on hard courts, but he's solid enough to make Berdych work for the win.
Sloane Stephens (USA) vs. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)  (third match, Armstrong Stadium): Stephens made the third round here last year, and she has a great opportunity to pull off the upset over Schiavone. The Italian has won only one match on hard courts this summer and withdrew from New Haven with a stomach illness just last week. This is all about Stephens keeping her wits about her. A naturally gifted athlete with good power, Stephens' mental lapses have held her back. If she can steel herself and believe that she not only can beat the 2010 French Open champion but that she also should beat her, she's well on her way to defending her 2011 result.
Sam Querrey (USA) vs. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) (second match, Armstrong Stadium): How tired is Sam Querrey? He's played five tournaments in five weeks leading up to New York. The good news is that he's done well and should carry a fair amount of confidence against the talented Lu, who has been known to pull off an upset or two at the Slams. Given his form, Querrey should get through this in straight sets. Courtney's Pet Picks: Serena Williams (USA)  vs. Coco Vandeweghe (USA), Caroline Wozniacki (DEN)  vs. Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU), Ana Ivanovic (SRB)  vs. Elina Svitolina (UKR), Thomaz Bellucci (BRA) vs. Pablo Andujar (ESP), Urszula Radwanska (POL) vs. Roberta Vinci (ITA) , Vania King (USA) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ), Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) vs. Camila Giorgi (ITA).