(5) Maria Sharapova vs (10) Caroline Wozniacki
The pick of the fourth round matches at this years US Open sees Maria Sharapova take on Caroline Wozniacki in what promises to be an intriguing contest. The winner of this match will play either Sara Errani or Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the quarter-finals and will therefore be a strong favourite to reach the semi-finals.
After a promising opening round victory over compatriot Maria Kirilenko, Sharapova labored through her next two matches. The fifth seed was less than convincing in her three set victory over Alexandra Dulgheru before defeating Sabine Lisicki 6-2 6-4 in an error-ridden third round match on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Maria’s serve was all over the place, the Russian served eight double faults but Lisicki failed to capitalise on her chances. Sharapova will need to play better if she is to defeat an in-form Caroline Wozniacki.
Caroline Wozniacki’s strong form throughout the US Open series has continued in New York. The Dane was particularly impressive in her dominant 6-2 6-3 victory over Andrea Petkovic in the third round. Caroline was as solid as ever, hitting just 11 unforced errors whilst pressuring Petkovic into hitting 34 unforced errors. Wozniacki served particularly well which has been a common theme in her resurgence over the past few months.
Sharapova has a commanding 7-2 head to head record over Wozniacki and has won their three most recent encounters. However whilst Caroline was at the top of her game, she twice defeated Maria Sharapova both in straight sets and both on hard courts. At the moment Caroline seems to be playing closer to her best compared to Maria. The way Maria is playing at the moment it’s difficult to see her consistently hitting past Wozniacki. Caroline’s recent form cannot be ignored, she has a really good chance to make another deep run in New York.
Prediction: Caroline Wozniacki to defeat Maria Sharapova 3 sets
(16) Victoria Azarenka vs Elena Vesnina
Two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka will be hot favourite to reach the second week in New York when she comes up against Elena Vesnina in the third round on Saturday.
Vika seems to be getting closer and closer to her best. The former world number 1 was forced to come from a set down to defeat Misaki Doi in her opening match, Vika’s competitive edge seemed to get her over the line in the second set before she ran away with the match in the third set. Vika made another tentative start in her second round match against McHale, falling 0-3 behind in the opening set. Vika was able to raise her level, unsettling McHale by pushing her back behind the baseline. Vika won 12 of the last 14 games to win 6-3 6-2.
Elena Vesnina reached the third round of the US Open for the first time since 2009 with a tight three set victory over Marina Erakovic. Vesnina’s singles results have been quite ordinary this year however she continues to excel with doubles partner Ekaterina Makarova.
Vika has a perfect 5-0 record over Elena Vesnina; the Belarusian has won each match in straight sets. Their two most recent matches took place in 2013 with Vika comprehensively defeating Vesnina on both occasions. Azarenka should come through this match in straight sets to set a likely fourth round match against Petra Kvitova.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Elena Vesnina 2 sets
(1) Serena Williams vs Varvara Lepchenko
Serena Williams will come up against a fellow American for the third time is as many matches when she faces Varvara Lepchenko for a spot in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
The world number 1 raced through her opening two matches in New York. Serena’s biggest challenge in her second round 6-1 6-0 demolition of Vania King was the wind. Serena’s serve was a little shaky in her first service game as she struggled to deal with the gusty conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium; she served three double faults but still managed to hold. Once Serena quickly adjusted to the conditions, Vania didn't stand a chance. Serena blasted 25 winners on route to wrapping up the match in just under an hour.
Varvara Lepchenko progressed through to the third round with a comprehensive 6-4 6-0 victory over Mona Barthel. Lepchenko has had some decent results in last couple of weeks, especially in Stanford where she defeated Agnieszka Radwanska and pushed Kerber to her limits. However it’s difficult to see her putting up much of a fight against a determined Serena Williams.
Serena has a perfect 2-0 record over Lepchenko, on both occasions Lepchenko has managed to win just three games. Serena will be looking to continue to build momentum by heading into the second week with another comprehensive straight set victory.
Prediction: Serena Williams to defeat Varvara Lepchenko In 2 sets
(19) Venus Williams vs (13) Sara Errani
A fascinating third round battle of contrasting styles sees a resurgent Venus Williams take on Sara Errani.
Venus Williams' 6-1 6-4 victory over Timea Bacsinszky in the second round secured her place in the third round at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2010. Venus has turned back the clock in recent months and will be keen to continue her recent good form by reaching the second reach of a Grand Slam for the first time since Wimbledon 2011.
2012 semi-finalist Sara Errani began her 2014 US Open campaign with a solid 6-1 7-5 victory over Kirsten Flipkens. Sara did what she had to do in her second round victory over Anastasia Rodionova. Rodionova dictated play from start to finish but hit far too many unforced errors, the Australian's erratic play was never going to be good enough. Errani wont be gifted as many points when she takes on Venus for a place in the fourth round.
Venus Williams has a commanding 3-0 head to head record over the Italian. Venus has thumped Errani in straight sets in all three matches, the Italian hasn't even come close to taking a set of the American. In their most recent encounter back in 2012, Venus smashed Errani 6-3 6-0 in Cincinnati. It’s quite easy to see why Errani struggles against Venus; it’s hard to see Errani taking a set off Venus here. Errani’s serve will be under severe pressure whilst at the same time she will struggle to make inroads into the Venus serve. Venus should win in straight sets.
Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Sara Errani in straight sets
(5) Maria Sharapova vs (26) Sabine Lisicki
Friday’s match of the day will be a hard-hitting affair when fifth seed Maria Sharapova takes on Sabine Lisicki for a spot in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows.
Maria Sharapova suffered an almighty scare on Tuesday, dropping the first set to Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru. Sharapova looked uncomfortable during the first set and a half, clearly struggling to find any kind of rhythm in difficult conditions on Arthur Ashe Stadium. As so often is the case, Maria rallied to force the match into a decider. The fifth seed was always in control of the deciding set as Dulgheru clearly began to tire. Maria capitalised to win the third set 6-2. Maria will need to raise her level in the third round when she comes up against the dangerous Sabine Lisicki.
Lisicki has been relatively untroubled in her opening two matches, accounting for Abanda and Brengle in straight sets. Sabine has only ever reached the second week at Flushing Meadows on one previous occasion, which was back in 2011. After a disappointing start to the season, Sabine’s results are gradually getting better; she is due for a big victory.
Maria has a convincing 5-1 head to head record over the German. Lisicki’s only victory over Maria came on her beloved courts of Wimbledon. Their most recent encounter took place in Madrid last year, Maria came out on top 6-2 7-5. Past results are kind of irrelevant in a match up like this, anything can happen here. Maria is not in the greatest form at the moment, the fast courts at Flushing Meadows will suit Sabine. The German is certainly capable of causing an upset here however I suspect Maria’s competitive edge will get her over line once again.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Sabine Lisicki in three sets
(5) Maria Sharapova vs Alexandra Dulgheru
After a convincing first round victory over compatriot Maria Kirilenko, fifth seed Maria Sharapova takes on Alexandra Dulgheru in the second round at Flushing Meadows.
Sharapova was given an early fright against Maria Kirilenko on Monday night; Kirilenko started the match off exceptionally well to take a 4-2 lead in the opening set. From there Maria Sharapova went on a 10 game winning streak to close out a potentially tough match 6-4 6-0.
Alexandra Dulgheru won just her 2nd Grad Slam main draw match since 2012 on Monday when she defeated Kristyna Pliskova 6-3 6-4. The Romanian has struggled with injury of late and will be a massive underdog in this match.
Sharapova has a perfect 2-0 record over the Romanian, there most recent encounter took place in Madrid last year where Maria came out on top 7-5 6-2. Dulgheru pushed Maria to a third set tiebreaker back in 2011, perhaps this will give the Romanian belief that she can compete with the Russian. However it’s hard to see Alexandra being competitive here, Maria should win in two straightforward sets.
Prediction: Maria Sharapova to defeat Alexandra Dulgheru in straight sets
(22) Alize Cornet vs Daniela Hantuchova
In one of Wednesday’s most intriguing second round matches, Alize Cornet will take on 2013 quarter-finalist Daniela Hantuchova. Cornet will be looking to break a string of four consecutives losses to the Slovakian.
Alize Cornet made a strong start to her 2014 US Open campaign, comprehensively defeating Amandine Hesse 6-1 6-2 in just over an hour. Cornet was in control of the match from start to finish, her backhand was particularly commanding. Cornet will need to be on top of her game if she is to defeat Daniela for the first time since 2009.
Daniela Hantuchova has a significant amount of points to defend over the next couple of weeks, the Slovakian will be desperate to avoid an early exit and a massive rankings drop. Hantuchova came from a break down in the third set to defeat Romina Oprandi 4-6 6-2 6-3.
Hantuchova has a 6-3 head-to-head record over Alize. However the two have gone in separate directions since their most recent clash, which took place at the London Olympics in 2012. Both ladies struggled during the US Open series, however Alize has been much more impressive throughout the season. Hantuchova hasn't had any notable victories this season; I can’t see that changing here.
Prediction: Alize Cornet to defeat Daniela Hantuchova in 2 sets
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Peng Shuai
Agnieszka Radwanska made a positive start to her US Open campaign on Monday, thrashing Sharon Fichman 6-1 6-0 in just 47 minutes. The Pole will be looking to finally reach the quarter-final stage at Flushing Meadows; the only Grand Slam the pole is yet to reach the final 8. The number 4 seed was as efficient as ever in her first round win over Fichman, hitting 23 winners to just 6 unforced errors.
Peng Shuai reached the second round with a 6-3 6-3 victory over compatriot Zheng Jie. Like Aga, Peng played a very clean match, hitting 17 winners to just 8 unforced errors. The current world number 1 in doubles is no slouch and will provide a tough test for Aga on Wednesday afternoon.
Peng Shuai will take confidence into this match, knowing that she defeated Aga at this very event at this very stage of the 2010 US Open. Aga still leads their head-to-head 3-1, including their most recent encounter in the fourth round of the 2011 Australian Open where Aga came out on top 7-5 3-6 7-5. Peng’s singles results have deteriorated since their last meeting, I suspect Aga will get the job done much more comfortably on this occasion. The fast surfaces of Flushing Meadows should suit Aga’s game as she looks to have her first real deep run in New York.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Peng Shuai in straight sets
Two time defending champion Serena Williams breezed past compatriot Taylor Townsend 6-3 6-1 in just under an hour in her opening round match at Flushing Meadows. Playing in her first ever US Open main draw, wild card Taylor Townsend started well enough but her lack of experience became increasingly apparent as the match wore on. Serena was untroubled on serve, the world number 1 did not face a break point as she won 88 percent of first serves and 85 percent of her second serves.
Townsend started the match off well with a commanding service hold. However a determined Serena quickly clicked into gear, breaking in the third game and then never looked back. Taylor did remain within striking distance for the entire opening set, however she was unable get herself into one of Serena's service games. Serena took the couple of chances that came her way, breaking in the ninth game to take the opening set 6-3.
Serena clearly meant business in the second set, determined to get off court as quickly as possible. Serena didn't let her concentration slip at any stage during the match, the odd errors she did hit clearly frustrated the world number 1. Serena eventually took the second set 6-1 in just 26 minutes, clearly determined to win her sixth US open title and first of Slam of the year.
After falling 2-4 down in the opening set, fifth seed Maria Sharapova went on to win 10 straight games to defeat compatriot Maria Kirikenko 6-4 6-0 in her opening round match at Flushing Meadows. A positive start for the 2006 champion who missed last seasons US Open due to a shoulder injury.
Playing her first match since her second round loss at Wimbledon, Maria Kirilenko started the match off surprisingly well. Kirilenko matched Sharapova in the opening couple of games before sneaking ahead with the first service break of the match in the fifth game. Kirilenko consolidated the break to take a 4-2 lead and an upset looked to be a real possibility. Kirilenko mixing things up nicely and successfully moving Maria Sharapova around the court.
The fifth seed quickly turned things around, winning four straight games to take the opening set 6-4 with a swinging volley. Sharapova played much smarter tennis in the second set, cutting her unforced error tally down to just 3 as opposed to 15 in the opening set. Down 0-3 Kirilenko took a medical timeout to have her left ankle strapped. However when play resumed Sharapova continued to dominate. Kirilenko double faulted the match away, Sharapova winning 6-4 6-0 in exactly one and a half hours.
Kirilenko wont be pleased with the way the match ended however I'm sure she will take some positives from the match, she played really well in the opening set and looks to fit and healthy and ready to finish the year off well. Maria Sharapova will face Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru in the second round as she looks to claim her second Grand Slam title of the year.