In the first match on Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday, 5th seed Na Li took on the British hope and 30th seed Laura Robson. On the same court and also in the third round last year, Robson was the surprise winner against the Chinese star, but she could not conjure up the same inspiration this year. Li took the first set with ease at 6-2 after breaking in the first game and building a 5-1 lead before Robson got another game. The Briton came back at Li in the second set with an early break to lead 3-0, but Li broke straight back. Both players at this stage of the match were playing wonderful tennis and they got to 5-5 before Li got another break and then held her serve to complete the set 7-5 with a second serve ace.
In an all American match, 15th seed Sloane Stephens met up with 23rd seed Jamie Hampton on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The United States’ 2nd and 3rd ranked players, they are both on their country’s Fed Cup team and know each other’s game inside out. On the day, it was Stephens who had the upper hand from the start, taking the first set at 6-1 in half an hour. An early break in the second set saw Stephens race to a 3-1 lead before her opponent broke back and levelled at 3-3. Another break saw Stephens lead 4-3 and take the next two games for the set at 6-3.
Wimbledon finalist and this tournament’s 16th seed, Sabine Lisicki, played the Russian leftie, Ekaterina Makarova, who is the 24th seed. Makarova built up a 4-0 lead by way of two breaks in the first set – due mainly to Lisicki’s very poor service stats and numerous unforced errors – and went on to take the set 6-4. Games went with serve in the much more competitive second set to 5-5 when Makarova got the vital break and she went on to serve out the set at 7-5 after a nervy 12th game.