The 2011 U.S. Open starts Monday with a full schedule of tasty matchups. Here are the ones Beyond The Baseline will be tracking (all times Eastern):
Ryan Harrison vs. Marin Cilic (11 a.m., Armstrong): Harrison has never been short on belief. In fact, his notorious confidence/arrogance/cockiness has inspired a "Ryan Harrison Ego" Twitter account. Physically gifted with a natural all-court game, the 19 year-old has finally seen his game come together this year. With Cilic still stuck in a protracted slump, the young American wild card has a great shot to bounce the 27th seed and score the first upset of the day.
Venus Wiliams vs. Vesna Dolonts (7 p.m., Ashe): This will be our first look at Venus since Wimbledon. She comes into the Open with low expectations, having withdrawn from every lead-up tournament she was entered in. Dolonts shouldn't cause too many problems, but, as it is with most of Venus' matches, so much is dependent on Venus. How's the serve? How's the timing? How's the body? Hopefully we'll get some answers here.
Grigor Dimitrov vs. Gael Monfils (third match, Court 17): This is a sadistic tennis nerd's dream. These are two players with remarkable talent who have a regular habit of pulling the mental ripcord mid-match, leaving their fans pounding their heads against the wall and vowing never to watch another one of their matches again. Yet, we tune in. Because if they both play well at the same time, this could be a dazzling display of shotmaking.
Urszula Radwanska vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (fourth match, Court 11): Ula fought her way through three qualifying matches to make the main draw, only to find that she's been drawn against her older sister. The draw gods can be cruel like that.
Courtney's Pet Picks: Maria Sharapova vs. Heather Watson (third match, Ashe); Samantha Stosur vs. Sofia Arvidsson (fourth match, Court 17); Laura Robson vs. Ayumi Morita (second match, Court 13); Ivo Karlovic vs. Fernando Gonzalez (second match, Court 6).