2012 US Open Day 3: Five Matches To Watch

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Wednesday sees the final set of first round matches played and the start of the second round, here are my top five picks for matches to watch.

Xavier Malisse (BEL) vs [9] John Isner (USA) Arthur Ashe Stadium (H2H Xavier Malisse 2-1)
After a strong few weeks in Toronto and Winston Salem which saw him reach a semi final and win a title respectively, many are tipping Isner as a dark horse for the title, or at least a semi final spot. Being in the Ferrer quarter of the draw opens up chances of a shock semi finalist and Isner has shown he is capable of beating many of the top players. A Wednesday start will help but there are far easier first round unseeded opponents than Malisse. Isner did win their last meeting although that was on the clay of Houston. After being sent packing by Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey in post-Olympics tournaments the Belgian will be hoping it is third time lucky against an American in Isner.

Laura Robson (GBR) vs [23] Kim Clijsters (BEL) Arthur Ashe Stadium
Unbeaten here since 2003, Kim Clijsters has performed incredibly well and will be hoping for a fourth title in as many appearances to cap off the farewell tournament before her second retirement. After struggling at the start of the year, Robson has begun to look more comfortable at this level. While her silver medal in mixed doubles took most of the attention at the Olympics, defeating a top 25 player in Lucie Safarova in singles shows her huge potential. Kim should have too much for Robson and expose her poor movement but it will be an interesting encounter between one of the new breed and a great champion in the women’s game.

Ernests Gulbis (LAT) vs [21] Tommy Haas (GER) Court 17 (H2H Tommy Haas 1-0)
Tommy Haas’s season has been incredible for a man of his age, racking up multiple semi finals and taking the scalp of Roger Federer to win in Halle. In his last four tournaments, the 34 year-old has only been defeated by higher ranked opponents, most recently Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin Del Potro. To give an idea of the level the German had been showing, he took the first set on a hard court from Djokovic since the Indian Wells final (8 matches). Ernests Gulbis is always a curious opponent and despite being extremely talented, has been accused of lacking motivation. It sums up the Latvian when at Wimbledon, he defeated former finalist Tomas Berdych in straight sets before losing in five to Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz. This could be an encounter full of brilliant shotmaking if both player’s heads are in the right place.

[WC] Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) vs [17] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS)  Court 11
This is a match between two former junior grand slam winners. Pavlyuchenkova has managed to kick on after her titles in 2006/2007, making herself a regular fixture in WTA events and moving into the top 20, something Mladenovic has failed yet to achieve in the three years since her French Open win. However, progress seems to be being made as Mladenovic justified her selection as a wildcard by beating a competent hard court player in Marina Erakovic in the first round. The Frenchwoman has been stuck on mainly the ITF circuit this year and has wins over Heather Watson and Vera Dushevina to her name amongst others. Pavlyuchenkova will be a step up from these but perhaps her round one win will be the boost needed to finally reach the next level.

[WC] Mallory Burdette (USA) vs Lucie Hradecka (CRO)Court 11
While not one of the most glamourous ties on paper tomorrow, this match is definitely intriguing. A NCAA singles runner-up at Stanford, Burdette has took her form to pro tour. She impressed in Stanford, defeating Anne Keothavong and held set points against Marion Bartoli before collapsing. Her win in the 100k Vancouver ITF led to the USTA giving Burdette a wildcard and she took full advantage. This is a great chance for her to amass more points against an opponent that can be incredibly inconsistent and had lost her last five matches before winning in the first round against Anabel Medina Garrigues.

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