2012 US Open Day 5: Five Matches To Watch

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More men play their second round matches while the women’s third round starts today, here are my five to watch.

[20] Andy Roddick (USA) vs Bernard Tomic (AUS) Arthur Ashe Stadium

This already looked a top competitive clash on paper, a difference from the monotony of other one sided night matches in recent days. But when Andy Roddick announced his retirement from tennis after this tournament, the interest level increased tenfold. While many young players may shy away from the spotlight, Tomic is sure to relish the occasion and perhaps the chance to retire one of the greats of the modern game. His perceived arrogance and overconfidence should help him settle down against what will be a noisy Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday. Roddick won in straights in his first round while surprisingly Tomic took four sets to defeat Carlos Berlocq.

[1] Victoria Azarenka (BLR) vs Jie Zheng (28) Arthur Ashe Stadium (H2H Victoria Azarenka 2-1)

Having been at the mercy of the schedule the last two rounds with her matches listed as having to be potentially moved courts, it is only fair that the women’s No.1 finally gets a match on the showpiece court here. As usual, Azarenka has eased through the early rounds barely dropping a game against Panova and Flipkens. With a match against an unseeded player in the fourth round at stake, this is a huge chance for Azarenka best run here if she can defeat the tricky Chinese. Zheng’s hard court form has been so-so recently, dropping matches to the likes of Daniela Hantuchova and Lucie Safarova since the Olympics. Her form in Australia earlier in the year though proves she is capable, but Azarenka should be confident as she was unbeatable to start the year on hard courts and also has twice defeated her opponent on the surface.

[9] Na Li (CHN) vs Laura Robson (GBR) Louis Armstrong Stadium

After retiring the popular Kim Clijsters with an outstanding performance, Laura Robson is the woman of the moment. Her potential for such a performance was always there but the serve would often collapse at key moments in the past. For her effort, she has been rewarded a tie with another of the favourites for the tournament in Na Li. With a final and a title, Li has been in better form pre-US Open than anyone while Robson did very little in either warm-up. It may be a reality check for the young Brit today who surely can’t defeat two top players in a row. If she holds her nerve there is definitely potential to take a set with the talent she has, but it will have to be an almost flawless performance to knock out Li.

[7] Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG) vs Ryan Harrison (USA) Louis Armstrong Stadium

It is very surprising that this match was not placed on Arthur Ashe. A tie between a former winner and the only one to break the monotony of the big three at grand slams takes on one of the new breed of Americans who will all be ready to jump into the spotlight after Andy Roddick’s announced retirement. Del Potro was lucky enough to be spared a potential tricky and lengthy match with compatriot David Nalbandian who withdrew injured. This gave him an easy match against lucky loser Florent Serra who posed very few problems at all. Harrison started poorly but won with similar ease, defeating Benjamin Becker in straight sets. Recently, Ryan Harrison has began to get more animated on court and was roundly criticised on TV for smashing rackets during his opening-round loss at the Olympics. He can’t afford to lose his temper here as his frustrations rarely improve his performance and Del Potro isn’t one whose performance will get distracted by his antics.

[14] Alexandr Dolgopolov (UKR) vs Marcos Baghdatis (CYP) Court 17 (H2H Alexandr Dolgopolov 3-2)

These two are both exceptionally talented but often incredibly frustrating players. Both players made hard work of average opponents as Baghdatis was taken to a fifth set tiebreak by Matthias Bachinger after leading 2-1. Meanwhile, Dolgopolov came from two sets and a double break down to blitz Jesse Levine off the court with a display of incredible hitting in the last two and a half sets. For someone as off and on as Dolgopolov, his fourth set feat of ZERO unforced errors was extremely impressive. It often seems that the Ukranian’s fast paced style isn’t always productive, and can hurt him if he is a bad run of form but he showed that it also works the other way if he is confident and firing. Having defeated the Cypriot on their last two encounters Dolgopolov will be fairly confident of making it three in a row if he can repeat the latter part of his match. He suffers many early exits but can often be hard to stop in a tournament once into his stride.

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