Not that there’s ever an easy time to be a professional tennis player, but with the heat bearing down on this year’s US Open, right now has to be particularly tough.
Case-in-point, Tuesday saw no less than five of the six retirements on the men’s side branded as “heat-related”, with other matches like the Novak Djokovic-Marton Fucsovics affair seriously affected by the 100°F (38°C) temperatures and >50% humidity.
Indeed, it’s the humidity in combination with the heat that has really made things unbearable in Flushing, so much so that it’s fair to suggest this is the worst we’ve seen at a slam this year – and that’s saying something when you consider the regularly scorching temperatures at the Australian Open.
With more sweltering heat to come today and Thursday, it’ll be a small miracle if we make it through without any further retirements. Such is the lot of a tennis pro – the show goes on regardless.
Here’s your three to see on day 3 in NYC:
Daniil Medvedev (RUS) v Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE)  – First on Court 10
The breakout star of the US Open Series, Stefanos Tsitsipas’s swashbuckling run to the final in Toronto finds the 20-year-old Greek under the unfamiliar pressure of expectation here in NYC, and now he has to deal with a bit of additional spice against the Russian Medvedev. Earlier this year in Miami, the two played an entertaining, but particularly contentious affair that ended with the victorious Medvedev calling Tsitsipas a “bulls**t Russian” (Tsitsipas’ mother is Russian) and seemingly wanting to fight the Greek for taking an extended bathroom break and not apologizing for a net cord. Really fight-worthy stuff to be sure, but you can bet the fiery Medvedev feels even more animosity in the wake of Tsitsipas’ meteoric rise, while his serve and rock-solid play from the baseline mean he has the tools to legitimately go for the upset.
Victoria Azarenka (BLR) v Daria Gavrilova (AUS)  – First on Court 17
Despite her impressive run to the semis in Miami earlier this year, tennis fans are still waiting for the permanent return of the “old” Victoria Azarenka in 2018, but at the very least she remains a dangerous foe for any woman, including Daria Gavrilova. Coming in off the back of a rare double-bagel victory against Sara Sorribes Tormo in her first round match, Gavrilova is certainly no sitting duck, but considering her form tends to come as quickly as it goes – particularly on hard courts, where she is just 11-8 on the season – Azarenka has to see this as a golden opportunity to regain some of her mojo. At the very least, she’ll have a decisive power advantage over the Australian, and the onus will be on Gavrilova to withstand Azarenka’s offense long enough to work her way into points and break down the Belarussian’s forehand. In any case, it should be a hard fought affair, and just maybe the kickstart Azarenka needs.
Andy Murray (GBR) v Fernando Verdasco (ESP)  – Second on Arthur Ashe
How “back” is Andy Murray? We’re about to find out against Fernando Verdasco. The exact sort of player a healthy Murray would own (13-2 head-to-head record) yet could never be considered a pushover, Verdasco provides a perfect litmus test for the current state of the Brit’s game. Showing he still had “wheels” in his first-round victory over James Duckworth, the question against Verdasco will be how his still in-progress serve holds up against the big-hitting Spaniard, who will look to exploit the righty-against-lefty matchup particularly on the second serve, where he can tuck into some massive forehands. With that in mind, Murray might spend more time on the defensive than even he prefers, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see this turn into the biggest test of his body yet via a topsy-turvy five-set affair.