The second week of the US Open begins in New York on Sunday as the fourth round of the final Grand Slam of the year gets underway and with all the singles action now confined to the two main courts the attention intensifies from here on in.
We saw some brilliant tennis in the third round and given that most of the leading lights have made it through to the last 16 we should expect much more of the same over the course of the action on Sunday and beyond.
Arthur Ashe Stadium
The main court has four matches on it on Sunday, two in the day session and two at night and it is two home players up first looking for a place in the quarter finals as Tommy Paul takes on the big hitting Ben Shelton for a spot in the last eight. When they are done another popular American ace will step out onto the big stage when Coco Gauff looks to book her spot in the quarter final. Caroline Wozniacki will be on the other side of the net in what is an intriguing match.
Novak Djokovic is back in action in the night session and he will open up the evening. He will be hoping for a much smoother path than he had in the last round when he found himself two sets down to Laslo Djere. The Croatian qualifier Borna Gojo will be the latest man in the Djokovic firing line. When they are done Iga Swiatek will continue the defence of her title when she takes on the former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.
Louis Armstrong Stadium
That leaves the other four matches taking place over on the Louis Armstrong Stadium. The two women’s matches get the show up and running with Karolina Muchova first up when she goes up against Xinyu Wang. The pick of the women’s matches on this court sees the Olympic champion Belinda Bencic looking to make it through to the last eight at the expense of Sorana Cirstea. There will then be a bit of a break before the two men’s matches come along on this court with the aim of getting them playing under the lights. Both matches involve American players with Frances Tiafoe first up when he faces the wildcard Rinky Hijikata before Taylor Fritz closes off the show against Dominic Stricker, who beat Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier in the competition.
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There are a lot of short priced favourites over the course of Sunday and while the better players probably will come through with them much more used to handling the pressure, there are a couple of outsiders who I am happy to support to at least keep things relatively close. The first of those is Caroline Wozniacki against Coco Gauff. In fact, if a hot favourite is going to lose on Sunday then based on what we’ve seen it could be Gauff because she was clearly rattled by the slow pace of Laura Siegemund in the opening round and then the clean hitting of Elise Mertens caused problems in the third round and while Wozniacki might not frustrate Gauff with her pace of play, she will keep getting balls back and play on the mind of the American in that regard. Playing a big hitter will hold no fears for the Dane. She has beaten Petra Kvitova and Jennifer Brady in the last two matches and win or lose I expect Wozniacki to keep within 5.5 games here.
The other bet I like is for there to be more than 3.5 sets in the match between Rinky Hijikata and Frances Tiafoe. This match is going to be played from 3pm local time when the heat and the humidity are expected to be at their highest and that might be a negative for Tiafoe who sweats pretty badly when he plays on a normal day with the all-action style that he has. Tiafoe rarely does things the easy way in Slams anyway and he is up against an opponent who is very comfortable on a hard court. While most of his matches have been at a much lower level than this, Hijikata’s record on a hard court in the three years he has been a regular professional reads 30-10 in 2021, 47-25 last year and he is 23-17 this year. There was evidence in his demolition of Marton Fucsovics in round two that the Aussie is hitting the ball very well and while I would still expect Tiafoe to get this one done in front of a home crowd, I’m less convinced it will be in straight sets.
Back C.Wozniacki (+5.5 games) to beat C.Gauff for a 3/10 stake at 1.73 with William Hill
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Back R.Hijikata vs F.Tiafoe – Over 3.5 sets for a 3/10 stake at 2.05 with Boylesports
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