2020 U.S. Open: What to Watch on Thursday

Court 5 | 7 p.m.

On Tuesday night, Alexandrova outlasted Kim Clijsters upon her return to the U.S. Open in three exceptional sets of tennis. Alexandrova, whose baseline hitting is a representation of what the modern women’s game has become, was able to go toe to toe with a player who arguably, help set tennis in that direction. Alexandrova has had a breakout year, winning her first WTA title in Shenzhen in January, before equaling her best Grand Slam performance with a third round appearance at the Australian Open.

Now she will face someone who could represent the future of the women’s game. Although McNally is better known for her doubles partnership with Coco Gauff, reaching the quarterfinals at the Australian Open last year, she is an equally capable singles player. Last year, McNally lost in the second round to Serena Williams in a three-set battle at Arthur Ashe Stadium, announcing herself as a prospect to be taken seriously by both fans and her fellow players.

  • Sofia Kenin vs. Leylah Fernandez, Arthur Ashe Stadium | 11 a.m.

  • Roberto Bautista Agut vs Miomir Kecmanovic, Court 12 | 11 a.m.

  • Dominic Thiem vs. Sumit Nagal, Arthur Ashe Stadium | 1 p.m.

  • Matteo Berrettini vs. Ugo Humbert, Court 17 | 5 p.m.

  • Ivan Dodig/Filip Polasek vs. Jamie Murray/Neal Skupski, Court 7 | 6 p.m.

  • Timea Babos/Kristina Mladenovic vs. Kaitlyn Christian/Giuliana Olmos, Court 12 | 6 p.m.

  • Margarita Gasparyan vs. Serena Williams, Arthur Ashe Stadium | 7 p.m.

  • Madison Keys vs Aliona Bolsova, Court 17 | 8 p.m.

Starting at 11 a.m. Eastern on ESPN+, I will be watching Ons Jabeur as she takes on Kaia Kanepi, a veteran. Jabeur plays with a creative flair that’s difficult to find at the pinnacle of the sport. In a way, it reminds me of Fabrice Santoro, who is known as the Magician. As Jabeur looks to match her quarterfinal run from the Australian Open, I’m just looking to be inspired by the joy that seems to radiate from her playing style.

Afterward, I’ll switch over to Louis Armstrong Stadium, where Raonic and Pospisil will face off. Raonic looked very convincing in his run to the finals at the Western & Southern Open last week, and I want to keep an eye on him as the tournament progresses. He could be a dark horse to push for the title if he can keep his foot on the gas through the next week and a half.

At around 5 p.m., I’ll be interested in seeing how Berrettini deals with Humbert. At last year’s U.S. Open, I tried to watch every Berrettini match after having accidentally caught his second round triumph over Jordan Thompson. He was on an outside field court, and the entire crowd was focused on the next court over, where an American player was struggling through a long match. At the time, I wanted to tell people that they were watching the wrong match, and felt vindicated as I watched Berrettini push to his first Grand Slam semifinal. This year, perhaps he can prove that it wasn’t a fluke run.

In the evening, I’ll be focused on two matches. Sabalenka and Azarenka are two extremely powerful baseline players, and their similarities are sure to create many impressive points as they seek to one-up each other. On the other hand, Auger-Aliassime and Murray will be a study in opposites. There may have been a time when Murray could play as explosively as the young Canadian does, but now, Murray will need to rely on his stamina and defensive play entirely to try to outmaneuver him.

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