By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Saturday September 2, 2023
Coco Gauff and Caroline Wozniacki will square off in a generational popcorn battle on Ashe on Day 7.
Photo Source: Getty
Are we really into the round of 16 at the US Open already? Hard to believe, as week one been a big, crazy blur, but … YES! Day 7 is upon us at the US Open, with the bottom half of the men’s side and the top half of the women’s side set to contest round of 16 tilts in New York.
That means coveted quarterfinal spots are on the line on Sunday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows.
Here’s a rundown of some of the key storylines to watch ahead of Sunday.
Paul vs. Shelton Rematch on Ashe
When they met in an improbable quarterfinal at this year’s Australian Open, Ben Shelton remembers being a deer in the headlights against Tommy Paul.
“I think that was a match where I was a little unsure of what to expect,” he said on Friday when asked about that match. “I hadn’t really been in that situation before, quarterfinals of a Grand Slam, on Rod Laver, packed stadium.
“I think I panicked a little bit, pressed early in the match, and he kind of got on top of me and was the frontrunner from there. I hope to do a little bit better job of that this time around.”
Shelton has been serving lights out in New York, and playing with emotion. But Paul has had the better season and is further along in his evolution as a complete tennis player. He should have the edge – but can he can find ways to tame the beastly game of Shelton?
Wozniacki v Gauff Get to Know Each Other
Now that the Great Dane is back on tour, Coco Gauff is thrilled to have the chance to face Caroline Wozniacki. Naturally, she is planning to end the dream run of Wozniacki, who is playing amazing tennis in her first Grand Slam since the 2020 Australian Open.
But her desire to beat Wozniacki won’t stop her from appreciating what the Dane has already accomplished in her comeback.
“I never thought I would ever be in this position, especially after she retired and came back,” Gauff said on Friday in New York. “But she’s still like a really fit player. She looked like she was striking the ball today pretty clean, especially after I was watching her match the last couple sets against Jenny.
“I know a little bit of her just from watching her from growing up. It’s going to be really cool. I’m really excited. Playing a legend like her is really exciting. I’m not going to take the moment for granted.”
Can Swiatek Finally Solve Ostapenko?
Iga Swiatek is 0-3 lifetime against Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, but she’s never faced the 2017 Roland-Garros champion while holding the No.1 ranking. Surely the Pole, who has now won ten consecutive matches at the US Open, will be more confident than ever against Ostapenko, but there is also the element of the unknown when facing the hard-hitting 20th seed.
Ostapenko can take the racquet out of anybody’s hands, and she’s eager to play the role of the underdog in New York.
“I’m just going to play my game and focus more on myself,” she said. “For sure it’s going to be a difficult match. On the other hand I have nothing to lose and I’m already in the fourth round. I think it’s a good achievement, especially at the end of the year. I’m just going to play my best.” Foe and Fritz on Armstrong
Both players would probably prefer to be on Ashe, but… in due time. Frances Tiafoe and Taylor Fritz will play back-to-back on Armstrong, giving American fans good reason to head over the beautiful confines of Louis Armstrong Stadium. It’s a big day for both…
Tiafoe, bidding for his second consecutive trip to the quarterfinals in New York, will face Aussie wild card Rinky Hijikata. If he can get the win he will improve his US Open record to 15-3 since the start of 2020. New York is clearly a happy place for Frances.
Next up, Fritz will bid for his first US Open quarterfinal against hard hitting Swiss Dominic Stricker. Fritz had never been beyond the third round in Flushing Meadows prior to this season. He’d like nothing more than to keep striding deeper into the draw against the inexperienced but talented World No.128, who is the lowest-ranked player in the draw.