As Belinda Bencic put it earlier this week she is still on ‘cloud nine’ after winning Olympic Gold and Silver in Tokyo with the Swiss seemingly continuing her momentum at the US Open with two good wins over Arantxa Rus and Martina Trevisan. Now Bencic looks to convert this momentum into a grand slam title winning run.
First job for Bencic is to make the second week and that will be no easy task when she takes on Jessica Pegula on Saturday. The American has had a breakthrough season in 2021 having started off by reaching her first grand slam quarter-final at the Australian Open. Since then she has reached the last eight at five tournaments and has beaten some top players. Now Pegula looks for another top scalp and produce another strong performance at a grand slam.
There is no question that Bencic will have her toughest test of the week with Pegula’s consistency and athleticism taking her to her limits. However Bencic likes this match-up as she has opportunities to hit clean winners from very nice bouncing balls. Bencic to edge this entertaining third round match.
Prediction: Bencic in three sets.
Novak Djokovic  v Kei Nishikori H2H & Match Fundamentals
The world number one’s search for history has gone to plan so far with his only scare being losing the second set to Danish teenager Holger Rune in the opening round. Now Novak Djokovic will look to control the pressure of being the third player in history to win the calendar grand slam as he now prepares to face an old foe on Saturday.
That’s because Djokovic will now face Kei Nishikori in the next round after he beat Mackenzie McDonald in five sets. This will be the seventh meeting between the two at a grand slam with this being the fifth time that Nishikori has played a five set match before facing Djokovic. An extraordinary task but the Japanese star can take inspiration that he is playing great tennis and the fact he beat Djokovic in the 2014 US Open semi-final.
Nishikori’s inability to finish matches off easily could come back to haunt him as he faces one of the greatest challenges in sport right now. The Serb just seems to do everything that Nishikori does that much better and that should mean a relatively comfortable match for the man on a historic mission.
Iga Swiatek had to overcome tears and a tough Fiona Ferro to reach the last 32 at the US Open. The last time she got emotional on a tennis court was her epic three set win over Barbora Krejcikova in Rome and we all know what happened then. Can Swiatek draw inspiration from that and end her season on an incredible high?
First the Pole will have to overcome an in-form Anett Kontaveit who entered the US Open having won the Cleveland title the week before the final grand slam of the season. Anett Kontaveit had a tough win over Jil Teichmann in the second round to reach the third round and will aim to claim another scalp to reach another grand slam second week.
Kontaveit has had the better of Swiatek on hard courts and that’s not expected to change especially if the Pole plays like she did in her second round. But one thing’s certain and that is Swiatek will not give the match to the Estonian and will do whatever it takes to reach the last 16 in New York.
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