US Open 2019: Three to See on Day 1

published: Aug, 26, 2019

by: Ben Stevens

It’s been a particularly eventful year of grand slam tennis. We’ve seen Naomi Osaka became a superstar in Melbourne, Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal further extend their ridiculous tallies, Ash Barty win her first in Paris, and Simona Halep go bonkers at Wimbledon. We’ve seen new faces come to the fore, and old ones refuse to budge. We’ve seen epic upsets, nail-biters and beatdowns, and yet, we’re not done just yet: the 2019 US Open is here for one final rodeo.

Whether it’s watching to see whether anyone can knock-off the big three – and more specifically, Djokovic – on the men’s side, or whether the women’s field can take us on another rollercoaster of emotions, it’s a tournament with a lot to look forward to.

That said, we get it: you’re busy. Short of hooking your brain up to a supercomputer, you can’t be expected to keep track of all 254 singles matches over the next fortnight – that’s where we come in. Each day, this space will provide you with a look at three matches that should be well worth your time, whether for the intrigue surrounding them, the quality of the tennis, or in the case of some players *cough* Nick Kyrgios *cough*, just plain comedy.

So enjoy the tournament, and here’s your three to see on day 1 of the US Open:

Johanna Konta (GBR) [16] v Daria Kasatkina (RUS) – First on Court 17

What’s more disappointing – to play well enough this year to win a major and fall short, or to endure such a drop from your 2018 form as to never have had a chance in the first place? Jo Konta and Daria Kasatkina will look to answer that all-important question when they square off in a first-round encounter that will see one of them ensure their frustrating 2019 remains so. Storylines aside, it’s also a match with serious upset potential, given Kasatkina’s 2-1 H2H advantage and marginally better form in the two USO lead-ins. The sort of player who can stop her opponents from building a rhythm by constantly mixing up her shots, Kasatkina should make it very difficult for the attacking Konta to build a rhythm, and that means there’s a very realistic chance she’ll be headed home early.

Lucas Pouille (FRA) [25] v Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) – Third on Court 9

Not even nine months removed from his first trip to a major semi-final at the Aussie Open, Lucas Pouille might already qualify as an obscure answer to a trivia question, given how anonymous he has been for the rest of 2019. The scene of his most memorable triumph – a five-set upset win over Rafael Nadal in 2016 – perhaps Flushing can provide a boost to his fortunes once again, and he’ll need it with the tricky Philipp Kohlschreiber on deck. A guy who has given Pouille fits in each of their three previous meetings, the veteran Kohlschrieber will be more than happy to let the Frenchman beat himself, and even in a win for the 25th seed, that could mean we get one of the first five-setters of the tournament.

Roger Federer (SUI) [3] v Sumit Nagal (IND)

Just kidding. Although after fifteen years of waiting, this is still the closest we’ve come to Federer v Nadal at the US Open.

Serena Williams (USA) [8] v Maria Sharapova (RUS) – First Match, Night Session on Arthur Ashe

It’s hard to believe that when Maria Sharapova upended Serena Williams in the ’04 Wimbledon final as a 17-year-old, this rivalry would take the course it has in the years since, but here we are, with the six-years-older Serena completely owning the head-to-head, while also comfortably outlasting her as an elite player. It’s just become a harsh truth as Serena has gone about compiling her 19-2 record that she does everything Sharapova does but better, and yet while that would indicate this would again be another win for the American, this is still a fascinating watch, given both the legitimate animosity between the two (for a variety of reasons) and the spectacle they create, which is sure to have the New York crowd buzzing. As an added bonus, you can take a shot every time the commentators mention last year’s US Open final, so all-around there’s plenty of fun to be had.

Ben Stevens

Contributor to TennisConnected. Long time player, coach and fan. Still waiting on Mark Philippoussis to break through at a major.

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