US Open Friday: Li Takes On Robson
Published August 29, 2013 12:01
NEW YORK, NY, USA - Li Na will be looking for revenge against Laura Robson in a rematch from last year's third round, while Sloane Stephens and Serena Williams have their work cut out for them to set up a fourth round encounter with each other.
Friday, Third Round
Arthur Ashe Stadium
 Li Na (CHN #6) vs.  Laura Robson (GBR #32)
Head-to-head: Robson leads 1-0
When Laura Robson took down Li Na in the third round of last year's US Open, it was a major surprise considering the Brit came into that contest ranked 89th and without a Top 10 win to her credit. Since that time, Robson reached her first WTA final in Guangzhou last September, added three more Top 10 wins and advanced to another Grand Slam fourth round earlier this summer at Wimbledon. Consequentially, the WTA's highest-ranked teen comes into her second tilt with Li seeded at a major for the first time and not much of an underdog.
Li has been impressive on hardcourts this year, highlighted by a title in Shenzhen and a run to the final at the Australian Open. Her pre-US Open North American summer swing consisted of semifinal showings in Toronto and Cincinnati. She has been in especially good form this week in her 30th Grand Slam appearance, dropping just four games in each of her first two matches to increase her 2013 hardcourt win tally to 24.
 Sloane Stephens (USA #16) vs.  Jamie Hampton (USA #26)
Head-to-head: Stephens leads 2-1
Sloane Stephens didn't take the court for her second round match against Urszula Radwanska until almost midnight as Wednesday was turning into Thursday, but put on one of the best showings of her career. In fact, her two games surrendered were tied for the least of her career in a WTA main draw match and interestingly enough, the other two times she only gave up two games also occurred in Grand Slams this year. Though maybe that shouldn't come as a surprise, considering how well she has played on the biggest of stages this year, having amassed a 14-3 Grand Slam record in 2013. A rematch of her shocking upset of Serena Williams at January's Australian Open could loom in the fourth round, but Stephens would be wise not to overlook fellow American and good friend Jamie Hampton first.
Hampton is seeded at a Grand Slam for the first time this fortnight after a summer that has included her first WTA final in Eastbourne and a semifinal outing in Stanford. If she is able to notch her seventh Top 20 win against Stephens, she would be into the fourth round at a Grand Slam for the second time - having also done so earlier this year at the French Open. Hampton will be looking for a bit of revenge, as Stephens won comfortably in their last encounter in the first round of Wimbledon in June.
 Serena Williams (USA #1) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ #78)
Head-to-head: Williams leads 2-0
Yaroslava Shvedova was probably never in better form than the last time she played Serena Williams in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2012. In the event before that, she matched her best Grand Slam outing with a quarterfinal showing at the French Open. And in her third round at the All-England Club, she recorded a golden set en route to beating Sara Errani. She continued playing at that level against Williams, giving her all she could handle before eventually falling 7-5 in the third set. And while Shvedova has failed to match that level since, having reached only one WTA quarterfinal since the 2012 French Open, she has shown flashes of it in dropping just six games in her two matches this week. She is looking for her second Top 5 win and her first defeat of a World No.1.
Williams is in fine form herself, having surrendered just four games through two rounds, therefore fatigue should not be a factor despite having to play on consecutive days due to Wednesday's rain. In fact, Williams will have the odd occurrence of playing a Kazakh two days in a row, with Galina Voskoboeva having been her second round victim. That improved Williams to 62-4 on the year and 31-3 on hardcourts.