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US Open Day 1 Preview

After the meteorological drama of the weekend, it's showtime in New York. But which stars will shine on Day 1?

Published August 28, 2011 11:59

US Open Day 1 Preview
Madison Keys

Monday, First Round

Arthur Ashe
Heather Watson (GBR #102) vs. [3] Maria Sharapova (RUS #4)
Head-to-Head:
First meeting
Watson, one of 11 teenagers in the main draw, is also one of nine players in the field to have won the junior title here. Two years on, the bubbly Brit is making her main draw debut at Flushing Meadows, having tasted life inside the Top 100 after a couple of WTA quarterfinals earlier in the year. But can she become the first British woman to beat a Top 5 player since Jo Durie beat Pam Shriver and Tracy Austin at Roland Garros in 1983? It's a big ask: Sharapova is coming off a fine title run at Cincinnati, a string of strong results in recent months reflected in her highest seeding at a major since Wimbledon in 2008. Watson doesn't possess the Russian star's arsenal, but with the experience of playing Vera Zvonareva at Eastbourne behind her, it will be interesting to see how she strategizes in just her second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Grandstand
[WC] Jill Craybas (USA #111) vs. [WC] Madison Keys (USA #455)
Head-to-Head:
First meeting
The second oldest player in the draw at 37 years of age, Craybas made her US Open debut when Keys, the youngest player in the field, was just one year old. She is playing her 15th US Open, the most of any player here this fortnight, and her 45th straight Slam, the joint-longest streak (with Francesca Schiavone). But in order to reach the second round (her best result here) for the fifth time, the wily veteran must hold off the youthful surge of one of her country's brightest prospects. Making her Grand Slam debut, Keys might be the lowest-ranked player in the 128-player line-up, but in 2009 she became the seventh youngest player to win a main draw WTA match when she defeated No.81 Alla Kudryavtseva at Ponte Vedra Beach. She'll know she is presented with a great opportunity to make some noise against a fellow wildcard today.

Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA #39) vs. Polona Hercog (SLO #40)
Head-to-Head:
First meeting
Still only 26, Mattek-Sands is making her 11th appearance at the US Open, and never have hopes been higher. When the seedings were done last week, she was the highest-ranked player to miss out, so she is very much part of the trend for players to really hit their stride in their mid-twenties. The flipside of the story is that while she broke into the Top 30 in July and was briefly the highest-ranked American woman for a time, a shoulder injury has kept her out of action since The Championships. Feisty as she is, that may not augur well against a talented young player who has also been moving up the ranks, winning her first WTA title at Bastad in July and building a nine-match winning streak by subsequently reaching the semis at Palermo. All that was on clay, of course; Mattek-Sands will be hoping the hardcourt helps her cause.

More to watch…
Two-time US Open champion Venus Williams opens nighttime proceedings on Ashe against Russia's Vesna Dolonts. Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, seeded fifth, opens her campaign against Alexandra Dulgheru on Louis Armstrong; that match is followed by last year's runner-up, No.2 seed Vera Zvonareva, taking on Stéphanie Foretz Gacon and then No.8 seed Marion Bartoli against qualifier Alexandra Panova. In a North American derby, Christina McHale and Aleksandra Wozniak face off on Court 17, while No.12 seed Agnieszka Radwanska tackles her sister Urszula on Court 11.

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