Love her or hate her, Maria Sharapova was once again the story at a major tournament, taking the headlines with her ouster of number two seed Simona Halep on day one of the US Open.
Having endured a less-than-ideal return to the court after her fifteen-month suspension for doping, this was close to Sharapova at her blunt-force best. For all Halep’s improvement in the last twelve months, the simple truth is she doesn’t possess close to the same arsenal of weapons, and now she leaves Flushing Meadows left to wonder what more she has to do to reach the top.
For Sharapova, it will be fascinating to watch her reception from here on in. Before, she was a side story to what was going on at the majors, but now the tennis world has to contend with her as once more a legitimate grand slam presence. Should her success continue, the discussion will only grow louder, with the only guarantee being it’s sure to provide plenty of controversy.
Moving to Tuesday, the focus will once again be on the tennis, with a host of enticing encounters on deck. Read on for a look at three can’t-miss matches from day 2 of the US Open.
Alex de Minaur (AUS) vs Dominic Thiem (AUT)  – 1st on Grandstand
In a draw with plenty of question marks, Dominic Thiem still manages to stand out. A French Open semifinalist, his play since then hasn’t been quite what you’d have hoped from a young-gun ready to make a charge to the top of the rankings. Now he faces off against the 18-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur, who while not on the Shapovalov-level of next-gen prospects, is very fun to watch, playing a highly mobile brand of tennis that sees him constantly move side-to-side, almost encouraging his opponents to make him stretch. Is it likely to be a tough match for Thiem? No, but it’s certainly worth watching, both to form your own opinions about the Aussie up-and-comer, and the state of Thiem’s form in a tournament where he is expected to go far.
Coco Vandeweghe (USA)  vs Alison Riske (USA) – 3rd on Louis Armstrong
It’s not quite Venus versus Serena, but Vandeweghe and Riske have a sneaky-great rivalry going, and they get a chance to resume it on home turf after the former took their most recent bout at Wimbledon. With the head-to-head at 4-4 and Riske’s three-match winning streak on hard courts, Vandeweghe will have her work cut out for her, despite the 27-place difference in rankings, and can expect the lesser speed of the US’s courts to bring Riske’s more tenacious game back into play compared to the grass of SW19. Consistency will be as important as shotmaking here, and that makes this a particularly even all-American encounter.
Roger Federer (SUI)  vs Frances Tiafoe (USA) – 2nd on Arthur Ashe, Night Session
An intriguing encounter not just for the clash of the old guard with a would-be usurper, but also as an assessment of Federer’s health after his injury in Montreal, you’d be hard pressed to tune in for this one. In the context of the wider American sports scene, no early exit on the men’s side would be felt quite like Federer’s, but he’s in legitimate danger here. In his upending of Alex Zverev in Cincinnati, the 19-year-old Tiafoe demonstrated an improved tactical acumen to go with his famously violent forehand, and if Federer is less than 100% expect the American to exploit it. In any case, the customarily raucous US Open night crowd will have plenty to cheer for, making this a fun one under the lights.