With basketball legend Michael Jordan watching in the stands, Roger Federer eased past Marinko Matosevic in straight sets in the night session on Day 2 to book his place in round 2. Federer will face another Aussie and the world’s faster server in the second round, Sam Groth.
Day 2 Recap
Joining Federer in the winners’ circle on Day 2 was fourth seed David Ferrer, local hope John Isner, Frenchmen Richard Gaquet, Gilles Simon and Gael Monfils, and Japan’s Kei Nishikori. There were also wins for veteran Ivo Karlovic and Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut, who needed 5 sets to overcome Andreas Haider-Maurer. Meanwhile, 17 year old Borna Coric won his first ever Grand Slam match, with the 2013 US Open junior champion dumping Czech seed Lukas Rosol in straight sets.
In the women’s tournament, the big names put in blockbuster displays, with Ivanovic, Kvitova, Serena Williams and Bouchard dropping just 11 games between them. Last year’s runner-up Victoria Azarenka was forced to 3 sets by Japan’s Misaki Doi but eventually prevailed, whilst Flavia Pennetta scored a 3 set win over Julia Goerges. And if you thought Coric’s win was impressive, it was outshone by the amazing victory of 15 year old American Cici Bellis, who surprised twelfth seed and Australian Open runner-up Dominika Cibulkova in 3 sets in front of an adoring crowd.
Matches of the Day – Day 3
1. Lleyton Hewitt vs. Tomas Berdych
After a fine start to the year, which saw him make the Australian Open semi-finals, win the title in Rotterdam and make the final in Dubai, sixth seed Tomas Berdych was endured something of a slump, falling in the third round of Wimbledon and achieving just a 5-5 win-loss record in his last 10 matches.
Berdych’s game is made for the bouncy hard-courts of Flushing Meadows, but he will need to boost his confidence if he is going to be a contender at this year’s tournament. Hewitt showed by winning the title in Newport last month that he is far from a spent force on the ATP Tour, and last year the former world number one ousted Juan Martin Del Potro en route to the round of 16 in New York.
Berdych has won both of his previous clashes with Hewitt but, with the last of those wins coming in 2009, it would be foolish to read too much into that record. That said, if he can serve well and be aggressive from the baseline, I think Berdych will prevail courtesy of his superior power. Berdych in 4.
2. Stanislas Wawrinka vs. Thomas Bellucci
I was impressed by Stan Wawrinka’s opening round win over Jiri Vesely, with the third seed successfully negotiating the Czech leftie’s big serve and playing the big points well. That marks a big change from Roland Garros, where Wawrinka seemed overawed by the pressure associated with being a recent Grand Slam champion and crumbled in his opening round match against Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.
Wawrinka faces another leftie today, in the form of Brazil’s Thomaz Bellucci. The Brazilian has been ranked as high as 21 in the world, but that was back in 2010, and Bellucci has struggled for form since then, winning just a handful of matches at Grand Slam level since 2011. Look for Wawrinka to get out to an early lead and to never relinquish his advantage. Wawrinka in 3.
3. Shuai Peng vs. Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska proved by winning the recent Masters event in Montreal that she remains a leading Grand Slam contender on the women’s side. The 2012 Wimbledon runner-up was in ruthless form in the opening round, dropping just one game, and she will be keen to notch a similarly comprehensive win today.
Peng is a tough competitor, who has been inside the world’s top 20 and who reached the round of 16 at the All England Club last month. I think this match might prove difficult for Radwanska, as Peng is almost as good a mover around the court as Radwanska and has more power to boot. However, in the clutches I think Radwanska will be too consistent. Radwanska in 3.
4. Marin Cilic vs. Marcos Baghdatis
After returning to the ATP Tour following his suspension last year for failing a drugs test, Marin Cilic has certainly made up for lost time, with the Croat reclaiming his spot in the world’s top 20 and ousting Tomas Berdych en route to the Wimbledon quarter-finals in July.
The partnership with Goran Ivanisevic appears to be paying dividends for Cilic, with the Croat gaining confidence and additional pace on his first serve. Baghdatis remains a wonderful shot-maker, but the Cypriot doesn’t have the runs on the board this season to truly contend in this one. I can see him competing strongly for a couple of sets, but I suspect Cilic will run away with the match down the stretch. Cilic in 4.
5. Grigor Dimitrov vs. Ryan Harrison
One has got to feel sorry for young American Ryan Harrison, who seems to have perpetually bad luck when it comes to Grand Slam draws. For the eighth consecutive time, Harrison has drawn a seed in the first round of a major and, as was the case at Wimbledon, the American must play Grigor Dimitrov in the first round at Flushing Meadows.
Such wretched luck explains, in part, Harrison’s slide down the rankings in the last couple of years, but if Harrison is to live up to his potential then he needs to start winning these matches sooner or later. Dimitrov took a while to adjust to the burdens placed on his shoulders, but the Bulgarian seventh seed showed in his run to the Wimbledon semi-finals that he is the real deal. Dimitrov took care of Harrison in straight sets in London, and I think it will be a similar result in New York today. Dimitrov in 3.
Put your house on: Maria Sharapova. The former US Open champion should make short work of Romania’s Alexandra Dulgheru.
Upset alert: Former top 30 player Ivan Dodig has beaten Rafael Nadal in the past, and Nadal’s countryman Feliciano Lopez will need to be on guard against the competitive Croat in their opening round clash today.
Likely to go the distance: Slovakian veteran Daniela Hantuchova is still capable of high quality tennis, and I suspect that she will push French seed Alize Cornet all the way in their match today.
That’s it for today. Enjoy the tennis and I’ll be back with another serve tomorrow. In the meantime, you can follow me on Twitter: @satelliteserve.