NEW YORK, USA – Into the third round and it is time to cast our eye on some of the players who have been flying under the radar.
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Sofia Kenin  v Madison Keys  | H2H Tied at 1-1
With American women’s tennis in bloom at the moment the schedule gives us another all-American clash to savour. Sofia Kenin, who ousted Serena Williams from Roland Garros takes on former finalist Madison Keys and in their first encounter the younger American outlasted Keys for the win.
Both players have been pretty consistent with their time on court – Keys a little over an hour so far, while Kenin has had a couple of tie-breaks to start before closing things out comfortably and Kenin is a player who can stay out there all day long, so expect her to be feisty and sticking to her guns to get under Keys’ skin.
Kenin might look like the size of a postage stamp compared to the willowy Keys, and as she has moved up from the junior ranks, Kenin has started to add a bit of weight to her groundstrokes. She will look to soak up the power that Keys puts behind her own groundstrokes. Although Keys looks to control play from the baseline, she is a capble volleyer too and her high risk play and occasional fluffs of shot selection have been less of an issue the more experience she has gained on the tour, winning the WTA Premier in Cincinnati on her way to the US Open.
Prediction: Keys in three sets.
Ons Jabeur v Karolina Pliskova  | First meeting
All four top seeds this year have had some scare or another to get through, and of course in the case of Simona Halep on Thursday, was sent packing. Next up for 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova is the tricky Ons Jabeur. Right now the future is rosy for the Tunisian, the first to advance to the third round of the US Open and she stands on the brink of more history – a win here would mean she is the first Arab woman to advance to the Round of 16 at any Grand Slam and is a match win away from becoming the first to break into the Top 50 of the WTA singles rankings.
Before that she has to get through Pliskova, who has a shot at returning to the World No. 1 sport if she reaches at least the quarter-final. Jabeur’s successes in the past year or so shows that she has started to believe in herself more and she will try to drive Pliskova (who in turn is a handy doubles player) by charging to the net and can mix things up nicely with slices and volleys.
We saw with Halep and Taylor Townsend that good old-fashioned serve and volley can be a real disruptor and Pliskova could be in for a long afternoon.
Prediction: Pliskova in three sets.
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Make no mistake – the only reason for us to be casting out gaze on defending champion Novak Djokovic is to see how he is getting on with the shoulder issue, which he admitted could have resulted in his retirement in the last round.
It has been up and down with injuries since the summer for Djokovic, and on paper, he would have the ability to out-grind and outlast Denis Kudla – if anything this could have been a contender for our Jigglypuff category.
With Roger Federer having dropped two sets already in both his early round, and Rafael Nadal having been gifted his spot in the third round by way of a walkover, the pressure is on Djokovic to maintain his cloak of invincibility.
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