Angelique Kerber continues her quest for No.1 as the bottom half of the draw contests its second-round matches in New York on Wednesday. We preview a busy slate at wtatennis.com.
WTA Staff

Angelique Kerber continues her quest for No.1 as the bottom half of the draw contests its second-round matches in New York on Wednesday. We preview a busy slate at wtatennis.com.

Wednesday
First Round

[2] Angelique Kerber (GER #2) vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (CRO #57)
Head-to-head: Kerber leads, 3-0
Key Stat: Kerber will ascend to the No.1 ranking if Serena Williams does not reach the semifinals in New York.

Playing the No.2 seed in the first week of the US Open may seem like a daunting task, but Croatia's Mirjana Lucic-Baroni has history on her side when it comes to this. She famously defeated Simona Halep in the third round here in 2014 and went on to reach the second week at a major for the first time in over fifteen years. It was an emotional high point of that year's US Open and the Croatian hopes to create more magic when she meets Angelique Kerber on Day 3. But the German has been rock-solid all season, and it is hard to imagine anybody knocking her off at this stage of a draw. Kerber leads the WTA in wins, Top 10 wins and hardcourt wins this season and she was highly effective in her first-round encounter with Polona Hercog, winning all seven games before the Slovenian retired due to injury. "I played the first set really good, so this is what I will take from this match, that I'm playing my tennis," Kerber said on Monday. "For me, it's always tricky the first few rounds. So it's always good to have the first round done. Just now focusing on the next rounds." Will that focus enable her to roll past an upset-minded Lucic-Baroni, or does the Croatian have another stunner in her?

Pick: Kerber in two

[24] Belinda Bencic (SUI #26) vs. Andrea Petkovic (GER #43)
Head-to-head: Bencic leads, 1-0
Key Stat: Petkovic has failed to reach the second week at a major in her last nine appearances.

Germany's Andrea Petkovic has not won back-to-back matches since the grass-court season and she hasn't reached the quarterfinals in a main draw since February. But the 28-year-old can put those old worries behind her by knocking off Belinda Bencic on Wednesday. Bencic, who survived a three-setter with American Samantha Crawford on Day 1 in New York, is still in search of her game after missing a big chunk of the season due to injuries to her back and wrist. Bencic struggled to find her form against Crawford, and let her frustration show, before coming back to win in three. The former world No.7 says that in the end playing three sets was probably good for her in terms of getting match tough. "I think it's normal after the injury to have [struggles]," she said. "I mean, in the moment I was very frustrated, but I had nothing left, just to fight and win the next two sets. That's what I did." She'll have to fight much harder to eliminate the steely Petkovic. Though she has struggled to go deep at the Slams of late, Petkovic showed good form in defeating Kristina Kucova in straight sets on Day 1.

Pick: Petkovic in three

[9] Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS #10) vs. Caroline Wozniacki (DEN #74)
Head-to-head: Tied, 6-6
Key Stat: Both players have earned 30 or more wins at the US Open and reached the final twice here.

The throwback tour for Svetlana Kuznetsova continues at the US Open. In the first round she swept by fellow veteran Francesca Schiavone in their fourth meeting at a major. On Wednesday the 31-year-old Russian will look to continue her fine form when she faces Denmark's Caroline Wozniacki for the fifth time at a major. The pair have split their four major meetings but Wozniacki holds the edge on the big stage in New York. Wozniacki defeated Kuznetsova in round of 16 tilts in 2009 and 2011 at the US Open and in general the Dane has played her best tennis in New York. She reached the final in 2009 and 2014 and owns a 30-9 lifetime record in Queens. But 2004 US Open champion Kuznetsova snapped a three-match losing streak in New York on Monday and has been in much better form than Wozniacki all season. Is it the Russian's time to make more waves in the Big Apple?

Pick: Kuznetsova in two

[3] Garbiñe Muguruza (ESP #3) vs. Anastasija Sevastova (LAT #48)
Head-to-head: First meeting
Key Stat: Muguruza is bidding to reach the US Open's third round for the first time.

Garbiñe Muguruza stormed the tennis world when she rolled to the Roland Garros title this spring, defeating Serena Williams in the final. Now she's trying to take baby steps in New York. Well-suited for the fast courts here at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, the Spaniard has needed time to get accustomed to the hustle and bustle that characterizes the year's final major. Muguruza says it is different to play in New York, but that she likes it. "I felt there's more movement, more noise, more stuff," she told reporters on Monday after her first-round win over Elise Mertens of Belgium. "But it's well known also because of the environment and the crowd and the vibes, I don't know, that feeling that brings New York. I think it's also special to feel? There's a lot of people. They're watching you. Maybe it's not as silent as Wimbledon, that everybody is like this, but I enjoy a lot also." Can Muguruza silence the noise in her head so that she can stir up noise at this year's Open? She'll bid for her first trip to the third round on Day 3 when she faces tricky Latvian Anastasija Sevastova. The 26-year-old has been on a good ride in 2016. She has climbed from outside of the Top 100 to her current rankings perch of 48 on the strength of 17 wins and two final appearances.

Pick: Muguruza in two

Around the Grounds:
No.8 seed Madison Keys will take on the youngest player in the draw, 16-year-old American Kayla Day. In her Grand Slam debut, Day reached the second round with a win over Madison Brengle. British No.1 Johanna Konta will look to reach the third round for the second consecutive year at New York when she faces the tricky Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova. Last year's runner-up, No.7-seeded Roberta Vinci of Italy, will square off with New Jersey Native Christina McHale.

By the Numbers:
13-4 - Keys improved her record to 13-4 in three-setters this season (career three-set record: 32-29) with her win over Alison Riske on Monday.
30-8 - Angelique Kerber's hardcourt record this year.
2012 - The last time a player won Wimbledon and the US Open back-to-back. It has only happened four times since 1998, with Venus Williams achieving the feat twice (2000, 2001) and Serena winning it twice (2002, 2012).