Before each day’s play at the 2019 US Open, we’ll preview three must-see matches.
The highest-profile first-round match may also be the easiest to predict. Serena has a 19-2 record against Sharapova, and she has won 18 straight matches against her dating back to 2004. The last time Sharapova beat Serena, Rafael Nadal had yet to play at Roland Garros, let alone win one of his 12 titles there. Sharapova has taken just four sets during that time, and she pushed Serena to a couple of tiebreakers in recent years. But the fact is that, ever since a teenage Maria beat her twice in 2014, Serena has brought her fullest attention and best tennis to her meetings with Sharapova. While Serena hasn’t had a great year by her standards, Sharapova, who was forced to skip the French Open and retire in the first round at Wimbledon, has struggled even more. Winner: S. Williams
Venus Williams vs. Saisai Zheng
Zheng is hardly a household name in the States, even among tennis fans, but she’s one of the tougher non-seeded opponents that Venus could have drawn in the first round. The 25-year-old is ranked 38th, 18 spots higher than Williams’ current position at No. 56; she’s also 14 years younger than the American. Perhaps most important, Zheng has played some good tennis this summer, winning the title on hard courts in San Jose. Fortunately for Venus, after a tough stretch earlier in the year, she also appeared to find her game during her run to the quarterfinals in Cincinnati. The fans in Louis Armstrong Stadium will do what they can to take care of the rest. Winner: V. Williams
After her flip-the-switch title run in Cincinnati, Keys has been tapped by many—including yours truly—as a dark horse pick to win her first major in New York. That means her opening-round match, against the 88th-ranked played in the world, should be a cakewalk, right? Maybe. Keys has an extreme power advantage over Doi, and has beaten her in four of their six meetings. But the last time they played, in Madrid in 2017, Doi pulled off the upset in three close sets. For Keys’ sake, let’s hope that match makes her more alert for this one, which is scheduled last in Armstrong on Monday, at roughly the same time Roger Federer will be playing in Ashe. That could potentially rob the atmosphere of some of the energy that would otherwise help the American. Winner: Keys
Wake up every morning with Tennis Channel Live at the US Open, starting at 8 a.m. ET. For three hours leading up to the start of play, Tennis Channel’s team will break down upcoming matches, review tournament storylines and focus on everything Flushing Meadows.
Tennis Channel’s encore, all-night match coverage will begin every evening at 11 p.m. ET, with the exception of earlier starts on Saturday and Sunday of championship weekend.