Sabine Lisicki (GER) vs. Aravane Rezai (FRA)
Lisicki comes into the tournament ranked #24 in the world and is coming off of a successful summer, having reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. She lives and trains at the IMG Academy Bollettieri tennis program and is one of the best young players on the women's tour. A good showing in New York would help propel her into the top-20 for the first time in her career.
Rezai is a 22-year old Frenchwoman who comes into New York ranked #37 in the world. She reached the fourth round of the US Open back in 2006, but hasn't been able to repeat those results since. Since reached the fourth round of the French Open back in June she has an 8-6 record and has been up-and-down.
This is the first career meeting between Lisicki and Rezai and it promises to be an interesting match. Rezai has excellent groundstrokes, moves well, and understands what it takes to win. She hasn't been playing her best as of late, but this is a new stage and a new day and I don't think she will let that affect her. On the other side, Lisicki's game is based on her booming serve and extremely aggressive groundstrokes. She takes the ball early and loves to force the action. She needs to remain patient throughout this match and play defensively when needed. She needs to keep her unforced errors down to a minimum, otherwise she will find herself in trouble.
Nick's Pick - Lisicki in 3 sets
Maria Sharapova (USA) vs. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)
It's great to have Maria back on the tour, as she brings a lot of attention to the sport. She comes in ranked #30 in the world and in her last two tournaments she has reached the semis and the finals. If she continues to play like this, she is definitely a threat in New York.
Pironkova is a 21-year old Bulgarian who is currently ranked #98 in the world. She has never been past the second round of any Grand Slam and has really struggled throughout 2009 posting an 11-19 record on the year.
This is the second career meeting between Pironkova and Sharapova, with Sharapova winning the first. Everyone will be watching to see how Sharapova moves and plays in her first US Open since 2007. Her biggest asset is her competitiveness and that is what has propelled her back into the top 30. She ran out of steam against Dementieva in the finals of Toronto, but it was a good sign that she was able to beat players like Petrova, Zvonareva, and Aggie Radwanska. She has to pull her toss back and go for a more consistent first serve rather than trying to hit so many aces. If Sharapova can get her serve working a bit and her movement is there, she will be a force in this tournament. I look for her to get through this match, but I definitely am going to keep my eye on her.
Nick's Pick - Sharapova in 2 sets
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Alexa Glatch (USA)
Serena is looking for her second straight US Open title and the fourth of her illustrious career. She comes in ranked #2 in the world, but has let it be known that she believes she is the real #1. After winning Wimbledon, Serena failed to capture a title in any of the three tournaments she played in, but this is the US Open and we know that she will be ready to go.
Glatch is one of the top up-and-coming American women and was given a wild card into the tournament. She is 19-years old and comes in ranked #103 in the world. There is a lot of promise surrounding her, so I am sure many viewers will be looking to see how she performs on the big stage.
Serena is 1-0 against Glatch, with that win coming earlier this year in Miami. Serena has a tendency to get off to slow starts and she can't let that happen this year. She has got to get down to business right away and show everyone that she is ready to dominate. This is a great opportunity for Glatch to showcase her talents. She has big groundstrokes and knows how to put the ball away when she has the chance. There is no better place to Glatch to shine than at the US Open! Serena cannot lag back six to eight feet behind the baseline like she has done lately because that is when she gets into trouble. She has to get inside the baseline, take the ball early, and catch her opponents off guard. I look for Serena to advance, but this should be a fun match to watch.
Nick's Pick - S. Williams in 2 sets
Kim Clijsters (BEL) vs. Viktoriya Kutuzova (UKR)
It is so great to have Kim back on the tour and competing again. She is one of the great personalities that we have seen in some time, and she brings a high level of excitement to the court every time she plays. She has played in two tournaments so far this year, reaching the quarters in Cincinnati and the round of 16 in Toronto.
Kutuzova is a 21-year old Ukrainian who comes into the tournament ranked #79 in the world. This is only her third appearance at the US Open and her first since 2006. She has never been past the second round of any Grand Slam in her career. She hasn't played well as of late having not won a match since the last round of qualifying at Wimbledon.
These two met once before, at Wimbledon in 2006, with Clijsters winning in a walkover. Speaking of Clijsters, she is the real wild card in this tournament and I wouldn't be surprised to see her playing well into the second week. How many people do you know that can slide on the hard court like she does? It's like she is doing ballet out there and I am really excited to see her play again. She plays excellent defense, has fantastic groundstrokes, and understands what it takes to win. Clijsters has really played well since returning earlier this summer and I see her winning this match.
Nick's Pick - K. Clijsters in 2 sets