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Tuesday saw upsets rain down in the women’s field with defending champion Emma Raducanu, two-time US Open winner Naomi Osaka, and living legend Venus Williams all dropping their openers. Tournament favorite Iga Swiatek cruised through her first round, but the upsets raise the question: Will there be another new women’s champion in New York?
With help from Universal Tennis INSIGHTS, let’s preview some of Thursday’s most intriguing second-round matchups.
Nadal Eases into Fognini Clash
On Tuesday night, Rafael Nadal (UTR Rating 16.07) dropped the opening set against Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata (14.31) but rebounded smoothly for a 4-6, 6-2, 6-3, 6-3 to extend his Grand Slam wins this year to 20. The 36-year-old won both the Australian Open and Roland Garros before withdrawing from his Wimbledon semifinal with an abdominal injury.
“It’s been a long wait,” Nadal said. “For some time I thought I may not be able to be back, so I am super happy. Night sessions are the best. I just have to be humble and accept the process, day after day in practices and matches and stay positive.”
Next up for Nadal is a familiar foe, Fabio Fognini (15.10). The two have faced each other 17 times in their long careers. While INSIGHTS has Nadal favored at a whopping 91%, Fognini has beaten him on four occasions including in the third round of the US Open in 2015. Of course, a lot of time has passed since that memorable upset and Nadal has bested the Italian in eight out of their last nine meetings.
Bouzkova Primed for Another Big Run
Marie Bouzkova (12.83) enjoyed a breakthrough at the All England Club when she stormed to the quarterfinals. Now the 24-year-old Czech is favored at 69% to upset 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova (12.56). Pliskova, the No. 22 seed, needed a third-set tiebreak to subdue Magda Linette. Bouzkova was also challenged in her opener, dropping a set to 17-year-old Linda Noskova.
The two Czechs have faced each other two times, with Bouzkova getting the upper hand in their most recent meeting, on clay, in Madrid. Bouzkova is looking to reach the third round in New York for the first time.
Rune Looks to Subdue Isner
Last year, Holger Rune (15.39) was the unknown qualifier who snagged a set off Novak Djokovic inside Arthur Ashe Stadium. This year, the 19-year-old Dane returns as the No. 28 seed. He’s favored by INSIGHTS at 55% to get past big-serving veteran John Isner (15.27) on Thursday.
But, since reaching the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, Rune has gone 2-8. On Tuesday, he looked to have rediscovered his form in a straight-set win over Peter Gojowczyk, and he’ll need his best to get past Isner. Thursday will be his first meeting against the American, who has a lot more Grand Slam experience under his belt including two US Open quarterfinal runs.
At 37, Isner is one of the oldest players in the draw though retirement doesn’t seem to be coming for him just yet. His compatriots Serena and Sam Querrey are of another mindset, with Serena set to retire after this US Open and Querrey announcing the end of his career on Tuesday.
Azarenka Stays Alive
After looking to be in complete control against 18-year-old Ashlyn Krueger (11.76), Victoria Azarenka (12.75) dropped the second set in an eventual 6-1, 4-6, 6-2 win late on Grandstand. Azarenka, a three-time finalist at the US Open, will have her hands full against Marta Kostyuk (12.52) next.
INSIGHTS gives Azarenka a 63% chance of beating the 20-year-old Ukrainian, whose best result at the majors so far has been the fourth round of Roland Garros last year. Thursday will mark Kostyuk’s first career meeting against the two-time Australian Open champion.
Players to Watch
Cincinnati champion Borna Coric (15.42) has the slight 51% edge over Jenson Brooksby (15.48) with INSIGHTS expecting a tight battle. Coric, seeded No. 25, needed five sets to edge past qualifier Enzo Couacaud while Brooksby benefitted from a third-set retirement while cruising against Dusan Lajovic.
Christopher Eubanks (14.89) was thrilled to pick up his first US Open win when he shut out Pedro Martinez in three sets. Eubanks, a Paid Hitter on the Universal Tennis platform, came through qualifying. It marked his first Grand Slam main draw win in his 19th appearance.
Next up, the American is looking to challenge No. 11 seed Jannik Sinner (15.79), who is heavily favored by INSIGHTS at 89%.
Stay tuned for more from INSIGHTS, and to learn more about Universal Tennis, click here.
•UTR Ratings and INSIGHTS probabilities as of 9:00 a.m. EST, August 31, 2022.
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