Kerber, a three-time major champion, won the U.S. Open in 2016. Since then, she has lost twice in the first round and once in the third round. On her best days, she is a force, but over the years she has shown inconsistencies. At the moment, she seems to be at the top of her game. Although she tends to play as a defensively focused counterpuncher, this week she has played with an aggressive mind-set, attacking balls early and hitting them into the corners with gusto. It will be interesting to see if Li can upset a seeded player in a second consecutive match by fending off the German’s onslaught.
Louis Armstrong Stadium | 6 p.m.
Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. Borna Coric
Tsitsipas, the No. 4 seed, has gone through the opening rounds without much fuss. Two businesslike wins might give the impression that this was entirely expected of Tsitsipas, the 2019 ATP Tour Finals champion, but that’s not really the case. Friday’s match is the first time Tsitsipas has reached the third round of the U.S. Open, a strange gap in the 22-year-old’s résumé, which includes appearances in the round of 16 at all of the other Grand Slam events. In his current form, it’s hard to imagine that he won’t advance even deeper this year.
Coric, the 27th seed, played a punishing five-set match in the second round, fighting to push back Juan Londero in over four hours. Many were concerned that this year’s U.S. Open would be tough physically, the five-set format even more punishing after almost six months without professional tennis events. Even in a normal year, facing a fresh Tsitsipas after a five-setter would be difficult. For Coric, a defensive baseliner whose game relies on movement, it will be the ultimate test not just physically but mentally.
Other important matches:
Chris Harrison/Ryan Harrison vs. Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury, Court 11 | 11 a.m.
Naomi Osaka vs. Marta Kostyuk, Arthur Ashe Stadium | Noon
Alexander Zverev vs. Adrian Mannarino, Louis Armstrong Stadium | 3 p.m.
Nicole Melichar/Yifan Xu vs. Coco Gauff/Caty McNally, Court 5 | 6 p.m.
Novak Djokovic vs. Jan-Lennard Struff, Arthur Ashe Stadium | 7 p.m.
Petra Kvitova vs. Jessica Pegula, Arthur Ashe Stadium | 9:30 p.m.
Here’s this fan’s game plan for juggling the matches.
We’re starting to get to that stage of the tournament where you could just park your TV on one of the main show courts and be thoroughly satisfied with the players who will be paraded onto them. However, these are the moments where the outside courts shine. Underdogs who are having a good run of form often populate the outer courts toward the end of the first week, and every match is almost guaranteed to entertain. With that in mind, my plan for tomorrow is a bit hectic.
I’ll start off, at noon, by watching the completion of Elise Mertens’s match against Sara Sorribes Tormo on Court 14. Mertens, the 16th seed, won the first set, but play was suspended after she won the first game of the second. Rain delays are tricky to manage, and I’ll be interested to see if Mertens can pick up right where she left off.