US Open Day 4 Preview
Published September 03, 2009 07:02
NEW YORK, NY, USA - The top half of the draw plays its second round matches at Flushing Meadows on Thursday, with a strong Russian flavor on the main stages. Who will make it through to the last 32, when the seeds will start to collide?
 Elena Dementieva (RUS) vs. Melanie Oudin (USA)
This time last year Oudin, still only 17, was ranked No.221 and received a wildcard into the main draw at the US Open. This year she competes as a direct entrant ranked No.70, and the third highest-rated American after Serena and Venus. Long full of promise, the Georgia native has lately indicated that, unlike some of her US predecessors, her progress will not stall. For one thing, she has been the queen of three set matches this season, winning 14 of 18 encounters that have gone the distance. And she scored her first Top 10 at Wimbledon, where, as a qualifier, she defeated world No.6 Jelena Jankovic on her way to the fourth round. Dementieva, with an extra decade of experience on the Tour - and playing better than ever - should have too much to throw at the southern belle, but whatever happens the experience will be a valuable one.
Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) vs.  Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS)
Kuznetsova is one of five former US Open champions in the field, and yet, despite the fact she is the only player besides Serena Williams to have won a Grand Slam in the past year, the one attracting the least buzz. That's nothing new, and perhaps the 24-year-old Russian likes it that way, but part of the reason is that her results have been only middling this summer. However, she powered past Julia Goerges for the loss of five games in the first round, conceding just eight unforced errors in a very clean display. On the other side of the net, 96th-ranked Sevastova's first round win over Tamarine Tanasugarn was her first Grand Slam main draw victory. For all her teenaged talent, it's a tall order to expect the Latvian teenager will be able to stop the Russian powerhouse from clinching her 90th Grand Slam match win today.
 Zheng Jie (CHN) vs. Alizé Cornet (FRA)
Tied at 1-1
Though she has slipped from the Top 20, Zheng recently scored her second win over a reigning world No.1 player, defeating Dinara Safina at Los Angeles to add to her famous victory over Ana Ivanovic at Wimbledon last year. That good form was evident in her first round win here over Anna-Lena Groenefeld, when the Chinese star won 84% of points on her first serve, and 90% on her second. Cornet, too, has dropped this season, but in a more demoralizing way: In February, the 19-year-old became the top-ranked Frenchwoman on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour at No.13 but, six months later, is her country's No.4 on a ranking of No.37. She did not win consecutive singles matches between Dubai in February and Bad Gastein in July, in what seems to be a severe case of sophomore blues after a superb 2008. Zheng is crafty but won't blow her off the court, which might help.
Julie Coin (FRA) vs.  Nadia Petrova (RUS)
Coin caused a sensation at last year's US Open when, ranked No.188 and having qualified for her first Tour level main draw at the age of 25, she became the lowest ranked player ever to beat a reigning world No.1 - Ivanovic, in the second round. Since that match, the highest-ranked player the former US college tennis standout has beaten is then-world No.49 Elena Vesnina. Still, she has earned herself a solid place in the rankings around the No.60 mark, and is certainly capable of producing another Flushing Meadows upset today. Much will depend on the more powerful Petrova's serve: the 27-year-old Russian, twice a quarterfinalist here, served seven aces in her first round win over Katarina Srebotnik, and with 203 aces from 35 matches, is fourth on the season aces list behind Serena, Sam Stosur, and Venus.
More to watch…
Fifth seed Jelena Jankovic plays Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan on Arthur Ashe during the day; later, No.29 seed Maria Sharapova headlines the night session against young American wildcard Christina McHale. After her first round fright, top seed Dinara Safina will be hoping for a smoother ride against Germany's Kristina Barrois first up on Louis Armstrong, while No.9 seed Caroline Wozniacki takes on Croatian Petra Martic on Grandstand. China's Peng Shuai plays Belgium's Yanina Wickmayer on Court 7, right after No.24 seed Sorana Cirstea takes on Stéphanie Dubois of Canada.