The fourth and final major of the 2014 tennis season is set to begin. The players are in New York; the draw has been set; and the fans are getting prepared to stream into the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Bad Man Bureau will be with you from first ball to the final trophy presentation, giving you a preview of tennis matches you might want to watch and recaps of some of the action from the prior day’s events.
5 Matches To Watch
(19) Venus Williams versus Kimiko Date-Krumm
Second on Arthur Ashe Stadium Day Session.
Head-to-Head: Williams 3-0 Date-Krumm.
Last Match Result: 2013 Miami Second Round. Williams defeats Date-Krumm 7-6(3), 3-6, 6-4.
Venus is the more powerful player, especially with her serve and her forehand, but the 43-year-old Date-Krumm has had decades of absorbing the power of her opponents and redirecting it by hitting her groundstrokes flat and early. Constant changes of direction troubles Venus, especially if she has to start scrambling, as she generally ends up launching the ball outside the court when on the run after a while. Still, Venus has been playing excellent tennis this summer, and while everyone would love a sequel to the excellent match they played at Wimbledon, Venus might be out to prevent another long, brilliantly played match.
Result: Venus Williams in three sets.
(5) Maria Sharapova versus Maria Kirilenko
First on Arthur Ashe Stadium Night Session.
Head-to-Head: Sharapova 5-2 Kirilenko.
Last Match Result: 2013 Indian Wells Semifinal. Sharapova defeats Kirilenko 6-4, 6-3.
Maria Sharapova has gritted and grinded her way to a number of hardcourt victories this summer, and she’s almost certainly going to have to do it against fellow Russian Maria Kirilenko. Still, Kirilenko is still on the mend from an injury that sidelined her for much of the first half of the year, and she’s not near the peak of her powers. If Kirilenko can recall the play that allowed her to knock of Maria Sharapova at the Australian Open in 2010, she could be a real threat to Sharapova’s quest for a second US Open title.
Result: Maria Sharapova in three sets.
(8) Andy Murray versus Robin Haase
Second on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Head-to-Head: Murray 2-1 Haase.
Last Match Result: 2013 Australian Open First Round. Murray defeats Haase 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.
When Andy Murray is a top contender for a major title–as he was at the 2013 Australian Open–then there’s no chance that Robin Haase can take him out–as evidenced by the seven games the Dutchman won against the Scot. However, when Murray is off for some reason, and if Robin Haase can pull his game together, it can result in an exciting, topsy-turvy match, similar to what we saw at the US Open three years ago. In that match, Haase went up two sets on Murray before Andy turned it around eventually winning in five.
Result: Andy Murray in three sets.
(21) Sloane Stephens versus Annika Beck
Third on Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Head-to-Head: First Meeting.
Last Match Result: First Meeting.
These two have never met, but this first round encounter is a possible preview of two of the top players in the WTA a few years from now. We know about Sloane: she’s done well at the majors in the last couple years, but she has never reached a final or particularly done well at the regular tour events. But Annika Beck is a talented player as well; currently ranked #57 in the world, she actually can boast to having reached a tour final at the event in Luxembourg last year. She plays her best tennis on hardcourts and could be a tough out for Sloane.
Result: Sloane Stephens in two sets.
(24) Julien Benneteau versus Benoit Paire
First on Court 11.
Head-to-Head: Benneteau 0-1 Paire.
Last Match Result: 2013 Rome Second Round. Paire defeats Benneteau 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(4).
Benoit Paire may have the duo’s only win in the head-to-head matchup, but that win came before Paire’s injury-induced layoff. Since then, the Frenchman has struggled to return to the form that saw him reach the Top 25. Still, he’s had some close calls this summer against players who are seeded in New York, nearly taking out both Stan Wawrinka in Canada and Ivo Karlovic in Washington. Benneteau is running high on confidence and should win, but as was mentioned in the men’s draw analysis, you just never know when two French players face off.
Result: Julien Benneteau in four sets.