Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks ahead to the latest in tennis. Today, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews day 6 of the 2020 US Open.

Where are all the upsets?

We’re now into day six of the 2020 US Open and so far the upsets have been few and far between. Oh sure, there have been some matches that qualify for the billing, for example Grigor Dimitrov falling against Marton Fucsovics in the second round.

But the type of earth-shattering upsets, the kind that absolutely blows up an entire draw? Caroline Garcia did overcome top-seed Karolina Pliskova but ultimately, the top quarter where Pliskova would have been has seen four seeded players make the fourth round: how upsetting was this result Garcia upset then, you know?

Staying on the women’s draw, this typical reliable bastion of upsets, a mere six unseeded players have lasted until the third round in the lower half—and seven in total if you factor in the fourth-round matches of the upper half. The situation on the men’s draw isn’t much better for the have-nots, with only eight unseeded players having survived so far.

It’s pretty wild. In a year that has completely blown up what we thought it meant to live in our modern world, in a year where seemingly everything has gone to shit, it would be utterly insane to have a couple of singles draws with just about zero upset.

In any case, see below the three matches we’ve chosen to highlight for day six.

Arthur Ashe Stadium: Serena Williams [3] vs Sloane Stephens [26] (Not before 2pm)

Undeniably, this is the day’s headliner, one between two former winners of the event who double as some of the sport’s greatest ambassadors. Though both Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens are far from playing their best tennis as their results at the Western & Southern Open will attest, this should still be a thrilling match—with Williams emerging as a likely winner, as she has in their four previous encounters.

It’s a match that, if there were any justice, would be tailor-made for the night atmosphere at Arthur Ashe: two great players bringing the best in each other under the bright lights and riling up the rowdy American crowd. Too bad.

Arthur Ashe Stadium: Dominic Thiem [2] vs Marin Cilic [31] (Second night match)

Dominic Thiem is nominally the second favourite on the men’s draw, but he’ll have to fight tooth and nail to make the quarterfinals, first battling the Croatian Marin Cilic and with young Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime likely awaiting in the fourth round. Still, if there’s a positive for the Austrian it’s that he’s emerged victorious both times in two career matches against Cilic. Not only that, but both wins came on hard courts, the supposed weakest surface of Thiem’s game. He should be fine for at least today.

Louis Armstrong Stadium: Sofia Kenin [2] vs Ons Jabeur [27] (Fifth day match)

The 26-year-old Ons Jabeur has enjoyed quite a stellar 2020 season and looks poised to break through after years of hinting at great things to come. If she does, she’ll need to defeat American Sofia Kenin, another player who’s been on a roll this season and who has actually beaten the Tunisian way back in January in the Australian Open quarterfinals. You know, back when things were still normal.

Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG


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