Women's match we're following
Finals: No. 9 Samantha Stosur (AUS) vs. No. 28 Serena Williams (USA)
Sunday, September 11: Arthur Ashe Stadium
After watching Serena Williams bulldoze current world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in an anticlimactic semifinal Saturday night, it's clear Samantha Stosur will need to play the best tennis of her career to beat the red-hot American in Sunday's final.
One look at Stosur's physique proves she won't be physically intimidated. The question is: Can she hold up mentally? The 27-year-old Australian has weapons in her forehand and kick serve, but the fact it took her three sets to get by unseeded Angelique Kerber in the semifinals inspires little confidence in her consistency.
Stosur did take out Serena en route to her only other Grand Slam final appearance at the 2010 French Open, though Williams returned the favor just one month ago with a straight-sets victory in the Toronto final. Armed with her athleticism, Stosur can hope to shake Serena's rhythm Sunday. But we expect Williams, 29, to complete a remarkable run by hoisting her 14th Grand Slam trophy in front of a supportive New York crowd. Read More
Semifinals: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs. No. 28 Serena Williams (USA)
Saturday, September 10: Arthur Ashe Stadium
In her semifinal match against top seed Caroline Wozniacki Saturday, Serena Williams will have a chance to prove what everyone but the rankings computer already assumes: that when healthy, Williams is the real world No. 1.
There's no doubt 29-year-old Serena has experience on her side. She's chasing her 14th major title, while Wozniacki, 21, has yet to win her first. But you can bet the Dane, who holds an eye-popping 58-12 record this season, won't surrender without a fight. Her fitness level is outstanding and her attitude, despite nearly two years of criticism for being a "Slam-less" No. 1, is remarkably positive.
Williams, who has yet to be truly tested this tournament, has a 2-0 career record against Wozniacki, though the two haven't played since 2009. Serena looked particularly sharp in the second set of her 7-5, 6-1 quarterfinal victory over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova. For the Dane to succeed in toppling Serena, she must use the more aggressive game plan she employed in her quarterfinal win over Andrea Petkovic. If Wozniacki reverts to her defense-oriented game, then Serena will be one step closer to capturing a fourth U.S. Open singles title and capping one of the most impressive comebacks in sports history.
Update: Serena was never seriously challenged by Wozniacki, winning 6-2, 6-4 to advance to her 17th career Grand Slam singles title.
Quarterfinals: No. 28 Serena Williams (USA) vs. No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)
Thursday, September 8: Arthur Ashe Stadium
If hard-hitting Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (right) hopes to defeat Serena Williams in their quarterfinal matchup Thursday, she'll need to raise her level from what she showed during her shaky fourth-round win over Francesca Schiavone.
Windy conditions played a role in that three-set messy display, which saw the 20-year-old Russian commit 11 double faults and 46 unforced errors while having her serve broken seven times. The same weather didn't seem to hinder Serena, who comfortably beat former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic in straight sets.
Despite the rough outing, Pavlyuchenkova deserves credit for upsetting seventh-seeded Schiavone in the round of 16 and former No. 1 Jelena Jankovic in the third round. With three junior Grand Slam titles (including the 2006 U.S. Open) to her name, plus wins this season over top 10 players Petra Kvitova, Samantha Stosur and 2010 U.S. Open finalist Vera Zvonareva, Pavlyuchenkova has shown she can compete at the highest level.
Thursday's match will mark Serena Williams' 32nd Grand Slam quarterfinal appearance; it's just the second for Pavlyuchenkova, who lost in the French Open quarters in May. The Russian took Serena to three sets in their only other meeting, at last year's French Open, but look for Williams, 29, to continue her impressive comeback by claiming a semifinal berth in New York.
Update: Serena impressed in her 7-5, 6-1 victory, and moved onto her 20th career major final, where she'll face the winner of Wozniacki-Petkovic.
Quarterfinals: No. 2 Vera Zvonareva (RUS) vs. No. 9 Samantha Stosur (AUS)
Thursday, Sept. 8: Louis Armstrong Stadium
You might say Samantha Stosur has Vera Zvonareva's number. She has topped the world No. 2 the last seven times they've played with Zvonareva's last win coming at Wimbledon ... in 2004.
With a record like that, it's hard to imagine Zvonareva, 26, prevailing over Stosur in their quarterfinal. But none of the Australian's seven victories over Zvonareva have come in the pressure-packed context of a Grand Slam tournament. The 27-year-old Stosur (right) may also be experiencing some lingering fatigue after her wild fourth-round match against Maria Kirilenko. Stosur won in three sets after blowing five match points in a 17-15 second-set tiebreak -- the longest in women's Grand Slam history. That victory came two days after Stosur outlasted Nadia Petrova in the longest U.S. Open women's singles contest (three hours, 16 minutes) since the institution of tie-breaks in 1970.
Zvonareva, who will be the third straight Russian Stosur has faced in this tournament, can only hope Stosur hasn't fully recovered from those two record-setting matches. The world No. 2 has experience (she reached the Wimbledon and U.S. Open finals last year) and confidence (she defeated Sabine Lisicki with surprising ease Sunday). Both players compete well and will put on a show for the fans, but history alone gives Stosur the edge.
Update: Stosur rolled over the 2010 finalist, 6-3, 6-3, in one hour and seven minutes. Stosur will make a third career appearance in a Grand Slam semifinal, and first major semi on hardcourt.
Fourth Round: No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) vs. No. 15 Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Monday, September 5: Arthur Ashe Stadium
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki may have the game, the fame and the famous boyfriend, but Svetlana Kuznetsova (right) has the one thing the 21-year-old Dane wants so desperately: a major title. In fact, the Russian powerhouse has notched two career Grand Slam singles crowns -- the 2004 U.S. Open and the 2009 French Open. Wozniacki and Kuznetsova will meet Monday in what will likely be the first real test of the tournament for each. And they have history here: In 2009's round of 16, Wozniacki defeated Kuznetsova by winning second- and third-set tiebreaks.
Wozniacki has bounced back quickly from a pair of opening-round tournament losses in Toronto and Cincinnati last month, capturing her fourth straight New Haven title the week before the Open stared. Having lost just 12 games in her first three rounds in New York, reestablished confidence could be the Dane's biggest weapon.
If Kuznetsova, 26, hopes to defeat Wozniacki for the first time since the spring of 2009, she'll have to use her trademark versatility and athleticism to keep the reigning world No. 1 on the run. Kuznetsova's improved fitness may help, but we expect Wozniacki, a 2009 finalist here, to improve her career record over Kuznetsova to 5-2 and move on to the quarters.
Update: In the best match of the women's tournament so far, Wozniacki stormed back from a set and 1-4 down to win 6-7 (6), 7-5, 6-1 in more than three hours.
Fourth round: No. 22 Sabine Lisicki (GER) vs. No. 2 Vera Zvonareva (RUS)
Sunday, September 4: Arthur Ashe Stadium
Wimbledon semifinalist Sabine Lisicki, 21, seemed as disappointed as the fans when Venus Williams withdrew from the tournament just hours before their scheduled second-round clash last Wednesday. But Lisicki gets another chance at a marquee matchup when she takes on 2010 U.S. Open finalist Vera Zvonareva, 26, Sunday.
The two first met in last year's U.S. Open second round, with the Russian veteran dispatching with Lisicki in straight sets. Though Zvonareva also eked out victories in their two subsequent matches, Lisicki, now fully recovered from an ankle injury in 2010, is riding a wave of confidence. Her excellent results, including the run to the Wimbledon semis in July, have boosted her ranking from No. 179 at the end of last season to No. 18 today. Including her 6-0, 6-1 beat-down of American Irina Falconi Friday, the gregarious German has had a smooth ride to the round of 16.
World No. 2 Zvonareva, a finalist at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year, hasn't been so lucky, struggling through tough second- and third-round matches. Zvonareva's overall record is stronger than Lisicki's, but expect Lisicki's bright smile and her play to charm the New York crowd Sunday night. She has a good chance to defeat Zvonareva for the first time in her career and book a spot in the quarterfinals.
Update: So much for the showdown. Zvonareva had little trouble with a nervous Lisicki, winning 6-2, 6-3 in one hour, 17 minutes.
Third round: No. 4 Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs. No. 28 Serena Williams (USA)
Saturday, Sept. 3: Arthur Ashe Stadium
Since the women's draw was announced last week, tennis fans have been eagerly awaiting the third-round showdown between three-time champion Serena Williams, seeded just 28th after missing most of the year with health problems, and Belarusian basher Victoria Azarenka (pictured), who was unlucky enough to get Williams in her section of the draw.
The No. 5 ranked Azarenka, 22, is a big-time player who has defeated Serena before: She won the prestigious Miami title in 2009 by beating a somewhat hobbled Williams in straight sets in the final. Earlier that year, Azarenka was leading Serena by a set in the fourth round of the Australian Open before she was forced to retire with an illness. But though this could be a competitive match, Williams leads the career series 5-1, including a convincing 6-3, 6-3 win in Toronto last month. Serena is the clear favorite to win on Saturday, and to win a week from Saturday, in the women's final, as well.
Update: Serena got past Azarenka, 6-1, 7-6 (5), in one hour and 40 minutes to advance to the quarterfinals.
Third round: Christina McHale (USA) vs. No. 25 Maria Kirilenko (RUS)
Friday, September 2: Arthur Ashe Stadium
The first career meeting between teenager Christina McHale, coming off an upset of No. 8 seed Marion Bartoli, and Russian veteran Maria Kirilenko (pictured) will take place under the lights of Ashe Stadium Friday night.
At a time when there is a lack of depth in the American tennis ranks -- No. 28 Serena Williams is the only seeded U.S. woman at the Open -- McHale is looking like an extremely promising player. Two weeks ago, the New Jersey native, 19, defeated world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets in Cincinnati. McHale validated that performance by taking out Bartoli, a top 10 player and a former Wimbledon finalist, in the second round Wednesday. Exhibiting poise and panache in front of the extremely supportive crowd, McHale has a real chance to get past Kirilenko and make a run to the second week.
Update: McHale's run came to an end Friday night as Kirilenko cruised, 6-2, 6-3, in an hour and a half to advance to the fourth round of the Open for the first time in her career.
Second round: No. 11 Jelena Jankovic (SER) vs. Jelena Dokic (AUS)
Thursday, September 1: Louis Armstrong Stadium
One is a former world No. 1 seeking a return to tennis' upper echelon; the other is a former prodigy trying to regain her top-5 form a decade later. Tennis geeks are looking forward to Thursday's battle of the Jelenas.
The gregarious personality and exotic looks of Jelena Jankovic (pictured) have made her a fan favorite. But after achieving the No. 1 ranking three years ago, the Serbian star, 26, has failed to convert her talent into Grand Slam gold. The closest she came was at the 2008 U.S. Open, where Jankovic made a run all the way to the final before falling to Serena Williams in straight sets. Now ranked outside the Top 10, the six-time Grand Slam semifinalist is looking fit and confident in this, her eighth U.S. Open.
While it has been three long years since Jankovic was a U.S. Open finalist, Dokic's best athletic achievements probably feel, to her, like a lifetime ago. In 1999, as a 16-year-old representing Yugoslavia, Dokic upset the then-world No. 1 Martina Hingis at Wimbledon. In 2000, she was a Wimbledon semifinalist. Three years later, in August 2002, she achieved the No. 4 ranking. Then Dokic's life unraveled, as she struggled with family problems (her father, the ultimate in overbearing tennis dads, wound up in prison). In 2008, Dokic began an earnest comeback, representing Australia, and she made a rousing run to the quarterfinals at the 2009 Australian Open. She's regained her fitness, and though ranked No. 73 in the world, still has the strokes to give Jankovic trouble.
Update: Jankovic defeated Dokic, 6-3, 6-4, and will face No. 17 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia in the third round.
Second round: Venus Williams (USA) vs. No. 22 Sabine Lisicki (GER)
Wednesday, August 31: Arthur Ashe Stadium
It's rare that the second round of a Grand Slam tournament features as competitive a match-up as Venus Williams versus Sabine Lisicki. The talented Lisicki was only 7 years old when Venus made the final of the 1997 U.S. Open. Now 21, the 5-foot-10 German is enjoying a breakout season during which she has won two titles and made the semifinals at Wimbledon. The big-serving Lisicki is also riding a six-match winning streak, having followed her title at Dallas with a straight-sets win over Alona Bondarenko on Tuesday.
Although Venus, the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Open champ, is a sentimental favorite, she should have her hands full with Lisicki, as Viv Bernstein writes. Now 31, Venus has struggled with injury for much of the year, and enters the tournament unseeded and ranked No. 36. She hasn't made it past the fourth round of a major this year, and if Lisicki keeps her nerve on Wednesday, Venus might be facing her earliest exit from a Slam since the 2009 Australian Open.
Update: Venus says she has been diagnosed with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain and forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Open.
First round: Bojana Jovanovski (SER) vs. No. 28 Serena Williams (USA)
Tuesday, August 30: Arthur Ashe Stadium
Let's face it: None of the 37 women's singles matches on Tuesday's program matters more than Serena Williams' 2011 U.S. Open debut. We want to know how she's playing, whether her allegedly sore toe has healed, and of course, if she's wearing anything outrageous.
Serena's opponent, the 54th–ranked Bojana Jovanovski of Serbia, made headlines this summer not for her stellar play, but for accidentally booking a flight to the wrong Carlsbad before a tournament. We don't think she'll have trouble finding her way to Ashe Stadium for Tuesday night's match under the lights, but defeating a 13-time Grand Slam singles champion is a tall order for the 19-year-old.
Update: Serena cruised past Jovanovski late Tuesday night, winning 6-1, 6-1 in less than an hour.
First round: Qualifier Urszula Radwanska (POL) vs. No. 12 Agnieszka Radwanska (POL)
Monday, August 29: Court 11
The Williams sisters aren't the only ones taking their sibling rivalry to Flushing Meadows. Poland's Agnieszka (right) and Urszula Radwanska will meet for the first time at a Grand Slam event on Monday. They've played two WTA matches before, both in 2009, and each sister won one match. Aga, 22, is the clear favorite; she's been a Top 10 regular in recent years and has made four major Grand Slam finals, most recently at this year's Australian Open. Ula, 20, has slipped from a career high ranking of No. 62 to No. 116, but she won three qualifying matches to make the main draw of the U.S. Open … and then drew her older sister. It should be an easy win for Radwanska The Elder, except that playing one's sister is never easy. Just ask Serena or Venus.
Update: Agnieszka handily defeated her younger sister, Urszula, 6-2, 6-3. But if you didn't know your Radwanska sisters by sight, you'd have been hard-pressed to tell who was winning: The Tennis Channel broadcasted the match with an on-screen scoreboard that just said "Radwanska vs. Radwanska." Instead of including first initials or Agnieszka's seed to help viewers distinguish the sisters, the channel just showed Polish flags next to each last name.