Kerber, the champion in New York four years ago, was the heavy favorite for this contest against fellow German Friedsam, who was playing just a third Grand Slam tournament in four seasons, and started brightly in this contest. The former world number one broke early on for a 2-0 lead, and saved three break points to consolidate for 3-0.
Friedsam had just dropped four games in her opening round against Caroline Dolehide and that confidence was on full display as she broke her countrywoman back in the fifth game, though was unable to maintain that momentum and dropped serve for the second time. The 17th seed consolidated for a commanding 5-2 lead and served out the opener with a superb service game.
It looked as if Kerber could take complete control of the contest as she broke in the opening game of set two, though Friedsam immediately broke back to keep herself from falling behind. There were opportunities to break for both women throughout the set, with Kerber most noticeably missing an opportunity to enable her to serve for the match when Friedsam was serving at 4-4, though in general both remained solid on serve.
There was an immediate minibreak for Kerber right at the start of the tiebreak though once again Friedsam immediately restored parity with some highly aggressive play. With no more breaks of serve in the next few exchanges it was Kerber, having just hit a poor dropshot on her first match point, who secured a decisive minibreak. A long return from Friedsam allowed the former world number one to claim a 6-3, 7-6(6) victory on Court Louis Armstrong.
Having reunited with former coach Torben Beltz earlier this summer Kerber has looked slightly rejuvenated in New York in the early stages this summer, with her defence looking particularly strong against Friedsam, who played well above her ranking of 109th and should be satisfied with her performance against a player of Kerber’s calibre.
Since beating Karolina Pliskova in the final four years ago Kerber has struggled in New York with this run to the third round equalling her result in 2018, with first round losses last year and when defending her title in 2017. Kerber has looked solid so far despite playing no warm up events, and could have another intriguing clash against 13th seed Alison Riske next.