US Open Day 7 Preview

The fourth round gets underway at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on Sunday. Who will move a step closer to glory?

Published September 03, 2011 11:59

US Open Day 7 Preview
Sabine Lisicki

Sunday, Fourth Round

Arthur Ashe
[25] Maria Kirilenko (RUS #29) vs. [9] Samantha Stosur (AUS #10)
Stosur leads 3-2
Kirilenko used her considerable court craft to great effect in the third round, ending the run of Christina McHale. So now, nine years after she won the junior title here, she's through to the fourth round for the first time. Can she go further, to what would be her second Grand Slam quarterfinal? Of course she can, but she'll have to discard the statistic that says she lost her last seven matches against Top 10 opponents. Stosur's 2011 hasn't been as good as her 2010 but she seems to be getting her mojo back and can only be galvanized by her third round victory over Nadia Petrova. Assuming she's fresh and ready to go after that three-hour-plus marathon (one of the fittest players around, she should be) she will be very hard to stop, especially if her kick serve is on song. The winner meets Lisicki or Zvonareva in the last eight.

[22] Sabine Lisicki (GER #18) vs. [2] Vera Zvonareva (RUS #2)
Zvonareva leads 3-0
What a difference a few months make. As recently as March, Lisicki was ranked outside the Top 200. Since then she's won two tournaments and reached the semis at Wimbledon. But there has been some drama along the way: at Roland Garros she was carried off court on a stretcher, having failed to convert a match point against none other than Zvonareva. These two met in the quarters at Carlsbad and again the Russian prevailed in three tight sets, so Lisicki will be out to avenge. For her part, Zvonareva has been going about her business without too much fuss, though it's ominous that she pulled out of the doubles with a viral illness. Lisicki continues to serve up a storm - she's second on the season aces list (227) and on Friday served the second fastest serve of the tournament (121mph, behind Venus). If she hits her mark tonight she will be very hard to stop, but she'll have to be steady on defense too.

Louis Armstrong
[13] Peng Shuai (CHN #14) vs. [26] Flavia Pennetta (ITA #25)
Pennetta leads 4-0
After her terrific defeat of Maria Sharapova in the third round - a win she rightly described as one of the best of her career - Pennetta, a two-time US Open quarterfinalist, can't fail to have noticed a real opportunity to get through to her first Grand Slam semi (see below). But, first things first, she has to get past one of the form players of the season in Peng. That means there's no time for a letdown; Peng stands in closer and takes the ball earlier than Sharapova, and if she's quick out of the blocks she'll be hard to reel in. Gunning to become the third Chinese player ever to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal in singles, she doesn't want for motivation either. Funnily enough, this is the third time in five years that these two have met at the US Open, with each encounter going the distance. More of the same today?

Court 17
Monica Niculescu (ROU #68) vs. Angelique Kerber (GER #92)
Niculescu leads 1-0 (first meeting at tour level)
The first Romanian to reach the round of 16 at Flushing Meadows since Irina Spirlea in 1998, Niculescu shares with Serena Williams the distinction of dropping just 10 games in her three matches so far. Clearly, efforts to bring more aggression to her crafty, unorthodox style are paying off; you don't beat Lucie Safarova by playing patty-cake, after all. Clearly Kerber is having a great tournament too, her big win being over Agnieszka Radwanska; her lefthanded but more traditional game should prove an interesting foil for Niculescu's spins and slices. Both are through to this stage of a major for the first time; their presence means that for the 10th time in 12 Slams, an unseeded player will feature in the quarterfinals. Peng or Pennetta await.

More to watch…
Doubles No.4 seeds Liezel Huber and Lisa Raymond face No.16 seeds Jarmila Gajdosova and Bethanie Mattek-Sands in a third round match on Grandstand… On Court 11, No.6 seeds Sania Mirza and Elena Vesnina play No.9 seeds Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova… Also on Court 11, French Open champions Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, seeded eighth, tackle unseeded Andreja Klepac and Anna Tatishvili... In mixed doubles second round action, Daniela Hantuchova and Mark Knowles take on Zahlavova Strycova and Philipp Petzschner.

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