Garbine Muguruza is looking to end a rollercoaster 2021 season with a grand slam title as she approaches this blockbuster last 32 clash. The Spaniard started the season with match point opportunities against Naomi Osaka in the Australian Open but injuries have prevented her from building on the momentum created at the start of the season. Strong wins against Donna Vekic and Andrea Petkovic have given confidence as she looks to win her third grand slam title.
On the other side of the net will be another multiple grand slam champion in Victoria Azarenka. Last year’s finalist approaches the last grand slam of the season also in mixed form with no real stand-out results. Despite this Azarenka is a force to be reckoned with on hard courts and has had two impressive victories to start her US Open campaign.
This should be a blockbuster match up with big-hitting, big serving and lots of entertaining rallies. This match is too close to call but the slight edge should be given to Muguruza given how she has handled overcoming two tough opponents but Azarenka’s counter-punching abilities will push the Spaniard to her limits.
Prediction: Muguruza in three sets.
Andrey Rublev  v Frances Tiafoe H2H & Match Fundamentals
Andrey Rublev enters the US Open in fine form having backed a solid grass court season by reaching his first Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati. Opening two wins against Ivo Karlovic and Pedro Martinez will give him belief that he can go all the way in New York and with confidence he will be a dangerous proposition to face heading into the second week.
Frances Tiafoe stands in Rublev’s way of a place in the last 16 with the American recording wins over Stefanos Tsitsipas and Andy Murray in recent months. The problem for Tiafoe is backing up his wins with consistent runs in tournaments and that will be the question posed again on Friday, if he can back up his two wins over Christopher Eubanks and Guido Pella with a major scalp such as Rublev.
Rublev’s baseline consistency should be too solid for Tiafoe’s steaky power although the American is definitely capable of giving the Russian his first test of this year’s US Open. But if Rublev’s return is firing like it has been then there should be only winner.
Aryna Sabalenka has had a career best season with consistent results, a title in Madrid and a first grand slam semi-final at Wimbledon where she narrowly lost to Karolina Pliskova. Although the end of season is approaching, Sabalenka refuses to run out of steam with convincing wins against Nina Stojanovic and Tamara Zidansek. Can she now finish the year by winning the biggest title of her young career?
Standing in her way will be Danielle Collins who has recently returned to her brilliant best having won the San Jose title and beat Simona Halep in Montreal in one of the best matches of the season. The American will be full of confidence heading into this match that she can pull off the upset.
Expect titanic rallies, lots of passion and both players showing their versatile skill set in what should be one of the matches of the tournament. If Sabalenka can keep her serving numbers high then she should win this match comfortably but she will any mistakes and Collins will punish her. An intriguing contest awaits on Friday.
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