15-year-old Bellis set the tennis world alight with a shocking upset in 2014, beating No.13 Dominika Cibulkova in the first round. The now 17-year-old Bellis, will require the same magic in her third round match at this year’s US Open as she prepares for the No.2 seed Kerber.
That 2014 run made Bellis an overnight sensation with knowledgable tennis fanatics queuing for hours to see the potential of such a young, blossoming talent. Now in 2016, Bellis is stalling on the decision to play collegiate tennis at Stanford University, as she makes her mark on the professional scene at grand slam level.
Bellis features on Arthur Ashe for the first time on Friday against the reigning Australian Open champion Kerber. The younger of the two, Bellis, takes many risks with her forehand and will be the more aggressive of the two players on tennis’ grandest venue. Can Bellis maintain that aggressive play under pressure and break through the formidable defences of Kerber?
Nadal lost from two sets up to Fabio Fognini in last year’s third round – he will hope that he does not suffer the same fate at this year’s Open. Nadal confronts a very gifted Russian export by the name of Andrey Kuznetsov.
Kuznetsov has not quite fulfilled the potential that he showed as a World No.3 in the juniors game. He even won a juniors Grand Slam title, but is still to make a big impact on the men’s game.
Kuznetsov’s game is extremely flashy. He can produce spectacular moments on a tennis court and yet can also provide the most head-scratching shots during matchplay. The reason this match is so interestingly poised is because Kuznetsov came very close to beating Nadal on the hard courts of Doha earlier this year. It was another one of those matches that ran away from the Russian.
The Spanish No.1 has made easy work of his matches thus far – beating Denis Istomin comfortably and then defeating Andreas Seppi in straight sets too.
The big question is whether Kuznetsov can solidify the good aspects of his game when it matters most. The regular occurrence in his relatively young career has been failing to pick himself up after tough losses and stumbling through difficult periods. He has the talent, he just needs to improve the vulnerability of his mental game in the heat of the battle.
Kuznetsov could give Nadal a scare in this environment, but expect Nadal to rise to the occasion.
A former US Open singles champion will face one of the up and coming young talents as Cilic and Sock go head to head in the third round. This is just the second time both have played each other, with the only match coming at the Davis Cup quarter-finals last month.
Cilic led that Davis Cup rubber by two sets to love but succumbed to Sock in five entertaining sets. It did not prove to be terminal for Croatia. Cilic gathered himself for the remaining matches by winning the pivotal doubles and beating John Isner in the fourth rubber.
Cilic is looking in fantastic form this tournament. Many have suggested that he is having his way with his opponents just like he did in the 2014 US Open where he went on to win the whole tournament. The crispness of the serving that looks effortless in moments really illustrates just how good he is feeling about his tennis.
Sock plays well in front of his home crowd. He feeds off the vibrancy of the American crowd and it really pushes him through some tough moments over the last twelve months. A problem for Sock has definitely been having the confidence in his body holding up in tight matches, like we saw in the final of Houston this year.
Cilic is riding a high wave at the moment and his first-strike tennis should get him past Sock in this third round encounter.
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