Wednesday August 29th, 2012

John Isner will be playing his first match since winning the Winston-Salem title as he faces Xavier Malisse. (Streeter Lecka/Getty Images).

Day 3 of the U.S. Open is a confusing one, as the men's schedule includes both first and second round matches. Andy Murray for example, will be playing his second match of the tournament on the same day John Isner plays his first. That's the result of the USTA's decision to spread the first round of the men's tournament over three days rather than two, in order to provide more marquee matchups for fans on the biggest show courts.

I hope the money they make off the scheduling decision, by the way of higher television revenues and ticket sales, is worth it. The men have been vocal about how much they don't like it because the players scheduled to play their first match on Wednesday -- like John Isner -- will have to play seven matches in 12 days, a huge competitive disadvantage.

While the men's scheduled is slightly jumbled the women's is straightforward. With the first round in the books, the top half of the women's draw moves to the second round.

Here are the matches we're watching on Day 3.

John Isner (USA) [9] vs. Xavier Malisse (BEL) (second match, Arthur Ashe Stadium): Fresh off a title in Winston-Salem on Sunday, Isner starts off against the streaky but talented Xavier Malisse. Malisse won their only meeting on hardcourt in 2010 but that was a different Isner. 2012 has been Isner's breakout year and though he's had some ups and downs throughout it -- he wants to forget the clay and grass stretch -- the big man has finally found his game on hardcourts. His back-to-back Top 10 wins over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych have to fill him with confidence.

Andy Murray (GBR) [3] vs. Ivan Dodig (CRO) (second night match, Ashe Stadium): Murray's first round defeat of Alex Bogomolov raised more questions than answers given his flat play. He says he didn't serve well and had problems with some cramping, something he'll address by hydrating better. He'll be wary of the No. 118th-ranked Dodig. The Croat hits way above his weight class and has the ability (and the guts) to grip-and-rip past the best defenders, including Rafael Nadal last year in Montreal and he beat Tsonga on grass at Queen's earlier this summer. His Top 5 wins have all come at ATP Tour tournaments so he's yet to prove he can play his high-risk/high-reward game at the Slams. But if Murray comes out flat and gets negative, Dodig has the goods to pull off the upset of the tournament.

Kim Clijsters (BEL) [23] vs. Laura Robson (GBR) (third match, Ashe Stadium): With this likely to be Kim's last tournament of her career (she has said she would play the Year-End Championships if she qualified), every one of her matches is a must-watch. You never know, this one could be her last. Then again, I'm pretty sure Kim's not ready to let an 18-year old end her tennis career. If Clijsters opening-round match was any indication, she's in good form, moving well, but still prone to streaks of errors. Robson, with her lefty serve and forehand could trouble her, but the Brit, who will be making her debut on Ashe, will need a lot of help from Clijsters here.

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs. Tommy Haas (GER) [21] (third match, Court 17): This is a match if Gulbis makes it a match. For the most part, Gulbis has had a disappointing year, but his first round upset of Berdych at Wimbledon gave us hope that he still had that level of tennis in him. Now ranked No. 145, Gulbis had a positive week in Winston-Salem, winning three matches to qualify and then progressing to the third round. But he's up against a veteran in the midst of a career resurgence. Haas -- yes that Tommy Haas -- has seen his ranking rise from outside the Top 100 in May to being seeded at the U.S. Open, ranked at No. 21. At 34-years old, Haas wasn't sure if he had this level in him, but how's this: Haas was the last man outside of the Top 5 to beat Roger Federer, doing so in the final of Halle in June.

Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. Benjamin Becker (GER) (fourth match, Grandstand): Harrison is looking to rebound from his first round loss to Marin Cilic last year, but his form leading in hasn't been great. He snapped a four match losing streak just last week in Winston-Salem and he has a better draw this year with the No. 85th-ranked German in the first round, a player he beat earlier this summer on grass in Newport (Harrison led 6-4, 3-0 before Becker retired). A win here and Harrison earns a potential second round shot at Juan Martin del Potro. Courtney's Pet Picks: Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) vs. Benoit Paire (FRA), Kevin Anderson (RSA) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)[4], Tobias Kamke (GER) vs.Lleyton Hewitt (AUS), Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER)[19] vs. Michael Llodra (FRA), Mallory Burdette (USA) vs. Lucie Hradecka (CZE), Brian Baker (USA) vs. Jan Hajek (CZE).

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