US Open Thursday: Forza Italia
Published August 28, 2013 12:01
NEW YORK, NY, USA - The second round wraps up at Flushing Meadows on Thursday, with an all-Italian clash and a couple of tennis' brightest young prospects all on the menu.
Thursday, Second Round
Arthur Ashe Stadium
 Sara Errani (ITA #5) vs. Flavia Pennetta (ITA #83)
Head-to-head: Pennetta leads 3-2
The accomplishments of Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci over the past few years have seen Flavia Pennetta become the forgotten woman of Italian tennis. While her compatriots have been sweeping all before them in singles and doubles, a career-threatening wrist injury has seen Pennetta, who in 2009 became the first Italian to reach the Top 10, slowly slip down the rankings.
Progress since her return has been slow, although there have been signs of recovery over the summer as she reached the fourth round of Wimbledon and the semifinals in Bastad. Errani, meanwhile, has been as consistent as ever, building on her breakthrough campaign in 2012, which featured a semifinal run at Flushing Meadows, with a string of deep runs on both hard and her beloved clay. Pennetta has won three of their five career meetings, although the most recent, in last year's Acapulco final, went to Errani in three sets.
Louis Armstrong Stadium
 Angelique Kerber (GER #9) vs. Eugenie Bouchard (CAN #59)
Head-to-head: first meeting
Angelique Kerber arrived at Flushing Meadows two years ago having lost in the first round of the four previous Slams and desperate for a win. She ended up getting five, before coming up just short against eventual champion Samantha Stosur in the semifinals. This unexpected run provided the foundations for a memorable 2012 season that saw the German establish herself as a Grand Slam contender and Top 10 mainstay.
Success has proved harder to come by this time around, particularly on the hardcourts this summer, where she has gone 5-4. Eugenie Bouchard, her second round opponent, on the other hand has been shooting up the rankings, posting some reputation-enhancing performances along the way. At the same stage of Wimbledon, she shocked former World No.1 Ana Ivanovic and she has the assured game and composed demeanor to trouble Kerber out on Armstrong.
 Simona Halep (ROU #19) vs. Donna Vekic (CRO #65)
Head-to-head: first meeting
For the first set and half of her first round with Heather Watson, it appeared that Simona Halep's exploits over the past few months were finally catching up with her. However, for Halep, winning appears to be a difficult habit to kick and she dug in to down the resurgent Brit on a sweltering evening.
That was the Romanian's 32nd victory since mid-May and she could well be pushed just as hard for number 33. Her opponent, Donna Vekic, may be light on experience - she is the youngest player in the draw and making her US Open debut - but she certainly is not lacking in competitive instinct; her aggressive game has already taken her to two WTA finals and within touching distance of a Top 50 spot.
Around the grounds…
Defending champion and No.1 seed Serena Williams faces Galina Voskoboeva on Arthur Ashe, while Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic will also be looking to book third round spots.