It’s Go Time at the final Major on the 2013 tennis calendar. In just a few hours the US Open kicks off with a busy, star-filled first day schedule. Tennis greats Roger Federer and Serena Williams headline opening night but before then Serena’s sister Venus and the hottest player in the game, Rafael Nadal, hold court.
Nadal enters having won his last 19 hardcourt matches nad after missing the 2012 US Open he’s impoibably the favorite to win his second US Open crown this fortnight.
“The US Open is a great event,” Nadal said. “To have the US Open in one of the most important cities of the world like New York, it is great for our sport. Last year I watched this event on the TV. This year I have the chance to be here. That’s great. All of that is fantastic for me. Now I have a chance to be ready, to compete with the right attitude, you know, try my best in every moment. I can lose, I can win, but only thing that is sure is I am practising with the best I have, and I am going to compete with all I have.”
Nadal, who has won nine titles this season including the last two Masters events in Canada and Cincinnati, could overtake Novak Djokovic at the No. 1 spot if he wins it all two Mondays from now. Rafa begins against the same man he played in his return on hardcourts this March at Indian Wells, Ryan Harrison.
The 21-year-old Harrison has slumped since breaking the Top 50 on the tour last season. Harrison has weapons, some moxie and some game but against the bigger names on the tour he’s yet to get in the win columns – Ryan’s 0-19 against Top 10 players. Today, that’ll go to 0-20.
Also this afternoon, David Ferrer faces the raw, powerful Australian teen Nick Kyrios. Richard Gasquet, the other favorite in that soft third quarter, faces American veteran Michael Russell.
Ernests Gulbis, Bernard Tomic and Fernando Verdasco are also on the Monday schedule.
The action, though, may be on the women’s side during the day. Two-time champ Venus returns for what could be her final US Open against Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens. The dimiutive Belgian doesn’t have much pedigree on the US Open cement but she did just beat Venus in a three sets over the summer.
Former finalist Jelena Jankovic locks up with rising American star Madison Keys. Australian Open champion Slaone Stephens meets Mandy Minella.
In the evening, Serena begins her US Open title defense against former French Open winner Francesca Schiavone. The entertaining Italian should offer some resistence for the World No. 1 but it’s hard to see Serena slipping up before the finals here.
“I’m definitely really excited,” Serena said who just lost to Victoria Azarenka last weekend at Cincinnati. “Every time I lose, I get so pumped afterwards. I just feel that way. I just feel like now I’m ready; now I’m prepared. I almost needed that to take my game to a new level.”
Then Federer is scheduled to take the stage against Grega Zemlja. Federer has been so shaky this summer and it wouldn’t surprise me if we see a few more wobbles tonight. The Slovenian Zemla beat the Federer-like Grigor Dimitrov at Wimbledon this year so while on paper this looks like an overwhelming mismatch, the reality is Federer could lose to just about anyone these days.
“It’s important that I concentrate on my game and that the passion is there, that I work the right way, that I’m prepared, and then that I feel like I can win a tournament,” the now-7th ranked Federer. “Clearly want to move up from here. I only have the quarters to defend, so I hope I can add some points to the rankings.”
Federer could meet Nadal next week in the quarterfinals.
Tennis Channel and ESPN2 will have live coverage of the Open starting at 11am ET.
MONDAY US OPEN SCHEDULE
Arthur Ashe Stadium 11:00 am Start Time
Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) vs. Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP)
Not Before: 1.00pm
Kirsten Flipkens (BEL) vs. Venus Williams (USA)
Ryan Harrison (USA) vs. Rafael Nadal (ESP)
Arthur Ashe Stadium 7:00 pm Start Time
US OPEN 2013 OPENING CEREMONY
Serena Williams (USA) vs. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Roger Federer (SUI) vs. Grega Zemlja (SLO)
Louis Armstrong Stadium 11:00 am Start Time
Olga Govortsova (BLR) vs. Na Li (CHN)
Richard Gasquet (FRA) vs. Michael Russell (USA)
Mandy Minella (LUX) vs. Sloane Stephens (USA)
Not Before: 5.30pm
Nick Kyrgios (AUS) vs. David Ferrer (ESP)
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