US Open Day 2 Preview
Published August 27, 2012 11:59
Tuesday, First Round
Arthur Ashe Stadium
[WC] Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA #212) vs. Venus Williams (USA #46)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 3-0
For just the third time in 14 visits, Venus Williams is unseeded at Flushing Meadows. Yet despite sitting barely inside the Top 50, the American is the most dangerous of dark horses this fortnight, a fact highlighted during a recent semifinal run in Cincinnati.
The two-time champion starts her title challenge against Bethanie Mattek-Sands, another player with a deceptively low ranking. A little over a year ago, the American sat inside the Top 30, but since then a succession of injuries have sent her slipping down the rankings. However, despite these recent travails, when Mattek-Sands' aggressive net-rushing game clicks she can be a match for anyone, and Williams, often a slow starter at majors, will have to guard against complacency.
Louis Armstrong Stadium
 Francesca Schiavone (ITA #26) vs. Sloane Stephens (USA #44)
Head-to-head: Schiavone leads 1-0
The third match up on Louis Armstrong is a classic battle of youth versus experience as Sloane Stephens takes on Francesca Schiavone. Nineteen-year-old Stephens has been one of 2012's success stories, reaching a handful of semifinals and making a Grand Slam breakthrough with a fourth round run at Roland Garros.
Schiavone, who is appearing in her 49th consecutive major this week, has played just one match on the North American hardcourts this summer and this ended in a first round defeat in Cincinnati. However, the Italian, a quarterfinalist in New York two years ago, knows how to peak when it matters and her cocktail of spins, speeds and angles from the baseline is sure to test how far Stephens has progressed.
 Maria Kirilenko (RUS #12) vs. Chanelle Scheepers (RSA #40)
Head-to-head: series tied 2-2
Maria Kirlenko has certainly had a summer to remember. After a sub-par clay court season, Kirilenko really came into her own on the grass, her easy-on-the-eye game and fit-as-a-fiddle physique propelling her to the business end of both Wimbledon and the Olympics. The Russian then followed this up by finishing runner-up in New Haven, helping her to a career-best No.12 ranking in the process.
In Chanelle Scheepers, though, she faces an opponent who knows what it takes to beat her, having triumphed in their two most recent hardcourt meetings. With two quarterfinals during the summer stretch on the cement, Scheepers is also match hardened and in the humid New York conditions will hope to draw Kirilenko into a war of attrition out on Court 11.
Around the grounds…
No.2 seed Agnieszka Radwanska gets her campaign underway on Arthur Ashe against hard-hitting Nina Bratchikova, while Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber will also be looking for a safe passage into the second round.