U.S. Open Day 5 matches to watch
The 4th of July comes on Sept. 2 this year, as Friday is all about the Americans.
• Nadia Petrova vs. Samantha Stosur (fourth match, Armstrong): Stosur showed some vulnerability in her last match against the big- serving, big-hitting Coco Vandeweghe. But she's been playing well this summer, making the finals in Toronto. Here's the problem: Petrova has pretty much owned her in their career showdowns, holding a 5-1 head-to-head edge. Sam has a problem with certain matchups, and while Petrova isn't the typical flat hitter against whom she struggles (i.e., Maria Sharapova, Victoria Azarenka), there's no doubt that Nadia is in her head.
• Irina Falconi vs. Sabine Lisicki (third match, Grandstand): Lisicki is in form and has to have benefited from the extra day of rest after Venus Williams withdrew from their match. She did, after all, just win a title in Dallas last Saturday. I can't think she'll have any problems with Falconi. Then again, if you told me the 21-year-old American would bounce Dominika Cibulkova, I would have asked you for your measurements so I could promptly fit you for a straight-jacket.
• Christina McHale vs. Maria Kirilenko (first night match, Ashe): Can McHale keep the run going for young American women knocking out seeds? Well, sure she can. Can she handle playing under the lights in the biggest tennis venue in the world after two days of hype? That's a tough question. Don't let the pretty face fool you: Kirilenko is a gamer. The No. 25 seed is solid on the ground and if she can get McHale moving wide, she's more than happy to sprint to the net to finish off points. She'll make McHale work.
• Andy Roddick vs. Jack Sock (second night match, Ashe): The names alone make this seem like a pitching matchup, not a tennis match. But A-Rod will face down the 18-year-old prospect, whom he described as “full of piss and vinegar. He’s from Nebraska. Sounds a little like an 18-year-old I knew once upon a time.” Awww ... Old Man Roddick is adorable when he puts his teeth in.
• David Ferrer vs. James Blake (last match, Grandstand): OK, I'm recommending you watch this match only if you're on the grounds. Personally, it would take a lot to get me to watch a Blake match. If women's tennis is going to get ripped for "mindless ball-bashing," then I would like to know how Blake has gotten a free pass for his entire career. But I can think of no better atmosphere to soak in the U.S. Open experience than to sit on Grandstand, at night, when a plucky American is playing a favorite. Also, Ferrer's habit of walking to and from a changeover with a towel in his mouth can only truly be appreciated live. Courtney's Pet Picks: Flavia Pennetta vs. Maria Sharapova (second match, Ashe); Robin Haase vs. Andy Murray (third match, Armstrong); Peng Shuai vs. Julia Goerges (second match, Grandstand); Guillermo Garcia-Lopez vs. Gilles Simon (second match, Court 11).