Home featured 2020 U.S. Open: What to Watch on Opening Monday

2020 U.S. Open: What to Watch on Opening Monday

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How to watch: From noon to 6 p.m., Eastern time, on ESPN, and from 6 to 11 p.m. on ESPN2; streaming on ESPN+ and ESPN3.

The United States Open singles competitions start Monday with neither the women’s nor the men’s reigning singles champion participating. Still, there are plenty of incredible competitors starting their quests for a Grand Slam title, including Naomi Osaka and Novak Djokovic.

Because of the number of matches cycling through courts, the times for individual matchups are at best a guess and certain to fluctuate based on the completion time of earlier play. All times are Eastern.

Arthur Ashe Stadium | 1 p.m. At Earliest

Kevin Anderson, a finalist at the U.S. Open in 2017, missed last year’s competition as part of a lengthy struggle with injuries. Anderson was ranked fifth in the world at the peak of his career in 2018, but is now ranked outside the top 100. Last week, at the Western & Southern Open, Anderson beat Kyle Edmund, the world No. 44, in a tight three-set match before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round. Even though Anderson has slipped from his peak, his powerful serves and groundstrokes can still be used as a bludgeon to allow him to press toward the net and control points.

Alexander Zverev, the fifth seed, has beaten Anderson all five times they have played, including three times on hardcourts in the United States in the summer. The one major differentiator coming into this match could be serve consistency, which Zverev has struggled with over the last year. Zverev lost to Andy Murray last week, and double-faulted three times while serving for the match in the third set.

Court 17 | 4:30 p.m.

Danielle Collins, unseeded at this year’s U.S. Open, started 2019 with a breakout. She reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, but had a hard time following that success, reaching only the second round at the 2019 U.S. Open. At the beginning of 2020, she rebounded, beating Elina Svitolina, Sofia Kenin and Belinda Bencic during the Australian swing of the WTA season. Collins’s aggressive style is suited to the faster hardcourts, and her powerful baseline game transitions well to the net.

Her opponent, Anett Kontaveit, is built in a similar vein. Kontaveit became the first Estonian, male or female, to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal at this year’s Australian Open. Kontaveit, seeded No. 14, will be looking to replicate that success on a similar hardcourt surface in Flushing Meadows. Kontaveit’s main weapon, an incredibly varied serve, is particularly effective in forcing weak returns, which could make it difficult for Collins to establish her groundstrokes when returning.

Louis Armstrong Stadium | 1 p.m.

In his short career, Shapovalov, the No. 12 seed, has not been knocked out of the U.S. Open before the third round. Shapovalov, 21, possesses one of the best one-handed backhands in the game, with incredible shotmaking ability and power.

Korda, who received a wild card into the U.S. Open, is a promising young American player. He is the son of the Czech players Petr Korda, who won the Australian Open in 1998, and Regina Rajchrtova, who competed in the 1988 Olympics. In 2018, Sebastian Korda won the junior singles title at the Australian Open, but this U.S. Open will be his first appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam event. The tall, thin player is deceptively quick, and will need to be on the top of his game if he is to challenge his opponent.

Louis Armstrong Stadium | 3 p.m.

Gauff, just 16, is remarkably mature both on and off the court. After a breakout year in 2019, she has shown no signs of slowing her seemingly inevitable ascent into the top echelons of the tennis world. At the Australian Open, she defeated the defending champion, Naomi Osaka, in the third round before losing to the eventual champion, Sofia Kenin, in the fourth. In this draw, she faces yet another seeded player in the first round.

Sevastova, seeded No. 31, reached the semifinals at the U.S. Open in 2018. Her game is comparable to Gauff’s. Sevastova does not have one shot with which to overpower her opponents; she seeks weaknesses in them and craftily constructs points to exploit those weaknesses.

Their match should be a master class in tactical thinking, angled shots and stalwart footwork — unless one player decides her way to win is to lean away from her own strengths to disrupt her opponent. Either player is capable of making that decision and grinding away, if need be.

Starting at 11 a.m. Eastern on ESPN+, I will split-screen Angelique Kerber’s match at Louis Armstrong Stadium with Diego Schwartzman’s on Court 5. While both are heavy favorites, they are pleasant to watch, and should provide an easy start to the day.

Next, viewers on ESPN will probably be directed to the Anderson-Zverev match, but I will watch Shapovalov face Korda instead. Anderson and Zverev tend to play long matches, so I’ll go back to it between checking other courts.

At 3 p.m., I will, like most American viewers, be clamoring to watch Gauff. Two years ago, late in the second week at the U.S. Open, I asked a colleague what to do while waiting for the evening session to start. She directed me to a field court on which some young Americans were playing junior doubles. Gauff’s game stood out, and I haven’t missed an opportunity to watch her play since.

Hopefully, by the end of Gauff’s match, Kontaveit and Collins will just be starting, although I will attempt to give some of my attention to Dayana Yastremska on Court 8. A 20-year-old Ukrainian, she had a breakthrough year in 2019. Now that she is working with the renowned coach Sascha Bajin, it is possible that her offense-focused style will start coalescing and become consistent enough to gain all the benefits without creating quite so many unforced errors.

At the end of the night, as ESPN gives way to ESPN2, both 2018 champions, Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka, will return to Arthur Ashe Stadium. While watching them, I’ll try to keep an eye on the last match on Court 17, between Reilly Opelka and David Goffin. The two players have extremely different styles. Opelka is the quintessential big man, with a powerful serve designed to be unbreakable. Goffin is much more intricate in his play, with point construction his major strength. It promises to be more interesting than the lopsided beatdowns we’ve come to expect from first-round matches featuring players at the top of the draw.

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