Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 4 of the 2020 US Open.
What a weird reality following this year’s US Open has been.
Every day is an exercise in subjugation of the rational part of our brain, the one that says that, “yeah maybe we shouldn’t be doing this actually because every day thousands of people are dying and what the fuck is the point of watching Novak Djokovic hit a serve at 15-40.”
In other words, every day gives a handful of reminders that there’s no way in hell we should be hosting an event of this magnitude—even with the caveat of no spectators. Put it this way: maybe we’re doing it all wrong if it takes Adrian Mannarino almost three minutes “to explain the practical aspects of being isolated from the rest of the players at the US Open.”
Because despite all those wonderful protocols and the best of intentions, the United States Tennis Association remains utterly hopeless just like the rest of us: Frenchman Benoit Paire tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this week, with 10 of his colleagues being impacted and forcing the USTA to install new protocols as a result.
There is no rational reason for hosting the 2020 US Open, yet here we are. Sigh. Let’s look at the day 4 matches we’ll keep a close eye on.
Court 12: Roberto Bautista Agut  vs Miomir Kecmanovic (11am start)
Every passing day, it seems, we’re inching nearer and nearer to the titanic clash between Roberto Bautista Agut and Novak Djokovic, slated for the fourth round. Oh sure, the two haven’t accomplished nearly as much in men’s tennis over their respective careers, but the Spaniard Bautista Agut sports no fewer than three wins in their head-to-head series. In 12 tries against Djokovic, this is good.
But beyond the three wins and nine losses, it’s the number of sets won from both sides that’s noteworthy: only five of their head-to-head matches have gone in straight sets, including none of their last five encounters where Bautista Agut actually grabbed two wins.
What we’re saying is that we’re just a few days away from a possible five-setter.
Louis Armstrong Stadium: Aryna Sabalenka  vs Victoria Azarenka (Not before 7pm)
Aryna Sabalenka has been great but she has yet to step up on the biggest stage of the sport and show everyone what a worthy contender she is. A win in the second round against the two-time US Open finalist, countrywoman Victoria Azarenka, would go a long way toward that: it would also open the draw up quite a bit.
Thirty-one-year-old Azarenka, meanwhile, is running high after winning last week’s Western & Southern Open title, hinting at perhaps bigger and better things still to come. It would be absolutely great to have a formidable Azarenka back in the thick of things in women’s tennis.
Arthur Ashe Stadium: Felix Auger-Aliassime  vs Andy Murray (Second night match)
What a way for Andy Murray to reintroduce himself to the (non) crowd in Flushing Meadows in the first round, coming back from two sets down to overcome a stunned Yoshihito Nishioka. Next up is Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime, which means that regardless of who wins this match the real winner will be us tennis fans watching on television.
Awwwwww 🙂 <3
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