In one of the most interesting round one matches on Monday, Beatriz Haddad Maia will play 2017 champion Sloane Stephens for a spot in the second round in New York. That title was one of the great US Open stories in recent memory, given it came not long after the American missed almost a year due to injury. Haddad Maia won the only meeting between the two back in 2019, winning in straight sets in Acapulco as a low-ranked qualifier.
Haddad Maia has solidified herself as a Top 20 player now, in large part thanks to having better slam results to contribute. She had not made it past the second round of a slam before this year but a French Open semi final and Wimbledon fourth round mean she now has plenty to work with. Both of those runs were ended by the defending champion while her two recent losses at the WTA 1000 are not too shameful, despite both coming early. She lost in three to Leylah Fernandez in Canada while beating unfortunate enough to draw eventual finalist Karolina Muchova in the opening round in Cincinnati.
Stephens has potential to return to the Top 20 in the coming year but any suggestions of her managing to hit the highs of the late 2010s would be misguided. Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova ended her runs in the bigger events but she will be disappointed with having lost in Cleveland to Sara Sorribes Tormo, especially on a hard court – no matter how slow.
The American will have the crowd behind her and clearly has better credentials in New York, although if that helps her this year is in question. Haddad Maia is a dangerous big hitter that can also grind with the best, as shown by her many marathon matches in the past few years. This could go long and you will always have to side with the Brazilian on such occasions.
Prediction – Beatriz Haddad Maia in three sets