The first day of the US Open would feature several interesting match-ups, with the first night match of this year’s tournament in Flushing Meadows being the standout encounter of the day. The play would kick off at 11 am local time, 4 pm London time and 11 pm Beijing time. The bottom halves of both the men’s singles and women’s singles competitions would start on Monday with the top halves playing on Tuesday.
Three to Watch: Women’s Singles
Simona Halep vs Maria Sharapova
Without a doubt, the highlight of the first day is definitely the encounter between world number two and two-time French Open finalist Simona Halep, who was one win away from being the top-ranked player for a total of four times this year, and Maria Sharapova, the five-time Grand Slam champion and former world number one. The Russian, who was out of the sport for a total of 15 months due to a violation of the anti-doping rules, currently finds herself sitting at the 147th spot in the rankings and had to rely on a wild card to enter the main draw.
This is definitely a cruel match-up for either of them as Halep is still in contention for the number one ranking at the end of the tournament, and the winner of this encounter stands a huge chance of progressing to the second week. This match is scheduled first on the night schedule of the Arthur Ashe Stadium, looking to draw in the majority of the crowd.
Pick: Halep in three sets
Sloane Stephens vs Roberta Vinci
The in-form Sloane Stephens, who relied on her protected ranking to enter the tournament, would open her US Open campaign against the 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci, who is defending quarter-final points here in New York. The American reached the semifinals in Toronto and Cincinnati, both Premier 5 tournaments, and already found herself in the Top 100 after just a couple of tournaments played.
Meanwhile, Vinci is currently in poor form and has failed to claim any confidence-boosting victories during the US Open Series. This would be an interesting match-up especially with Stephens receiving the support from her home crowd. This match is the scheduled third at the Louis Armstrong Stadium.
Pick: Stephens in two sets
Ana Konjuh vs Ashleigh Barty
Deep inside the outer courts, an interesting match-up would come to your eyes as the talented youngsters Ana Konjuh and Ashleigh Barty battles it out for a place in the second round. These two hard-hitting players have had some spectacular results this year and their explosive games would definitely cause some troubles for the top seeds here in New York. Konjuh is the favourite in this match as she is the higher-ranked player and is the 21st seed but Barty is never an opponent to underestimate. This is the last match scheduled on Court 7.
Pick: Barty in three sets
Three to Watch: Men’s Singles
Sam Querrey vs Gilles Simon
An interesting encounter would take place on Grandstand as the crowd favourite Sam Querrey faces a very tough first round opponent in Gilles Simon. The American has had an incredible year and currently finds himself in a qualifying spot for the ATP World Tour Finals with the help of several withdrawals by other players. Reaching the semifinals at the Wimbledon Championships, Querrey looks to mount another great run at a Grand Slam but the Frenchman, who was once ranked sixth in the world, would be looking to spoil the fun for the crowd.
Pick: Querrey in four sets
Pierre-Hugues Herbert vs John Isner
Playing in the Louis Armstrong Stadium, John Isner looks to excel in front of his American fans as he opens his US Open campaign against a tricky player in Pierre-Hugues Herbert. The Frenchman is a former number one in doubles and could cause some huge problems for the top players, and Isner must be playing some of his best tennis to ease past Herbert. Isner would be looking to improve on his disappointing third-round result last year, especially after being given a favourable draw this year as the 10th seed.
Pick: Isner in four sets
Jack Sock vs Jordan Thompson
Jack Sock looks to exact revenge over Jordan Thompson after his heartbreaking loss in their Davis Cup encounter which eventually saw his country fall to a shock defeat. Sock looks to give the Australian the same taste of his own medicine by beating him with the home crowd behind the American. The higher-ranked player comes into the encounter as the huge favourite but Thompson definitely cannot be underestimated as the underdog looks to create the upset in the first round. This match would be played last in the Louis Armstrong Stadium with Sock slightly benefitting from the timing as he usually struggles with the heat.
Pick: Sock in four sets
Best of the Rest
Amongst other exciting matches is the encounter between qualifier Darian King and the fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who looks to make his first deep run at a Grand Slam tournament. Venus Williams is the biggest local name to make an appearance in the Arthur Ashe Stadium on the first day as she faces qualifier Viktoria Kuzmova but her compatriot Varvara Lepchenko looks to create a huge upset against Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza in the first match scheduled in the biggest stadium in the world.
Marin Cilic faces Tennys Sandgren in the first round, with the home crowd definitely behind the local. Nonetheless, the former champion is the huge favourite there and getting the win should not be much of a problem. Petra Kvitova faces a familiar opponent in Jelena Jankovic as she looks to clinch the confidence-boosting win over the struggling Slovakian. Giant-killers Peng Shuai, Ekaterina Makarova and Gilles Muller would also be in action during the first day of competition.