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Three to See, US Open Day 2: John Isner, Venus Williams look to rewind the clock; Pegula takes on Giorgi
Before each day's play at Flushing Meadows, we'll preview three must-see matches.
Published Aug 28, 2023
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Jessica Pegula vs. Camila Giorgi
Like her doubles partner Coco Gauff on day one, Pegula will likely feel a few jitters as she walks into Ashe on Tuesday afternoon. She’s the top-ranked American, she’s a native of New York state, and she raised a lot of people’s expectations this summer by making the quarters at Wimbledon and winning the WTA 1000 in Montreal.
The Buffalonian may also be a little nervous about this particular opponent. Pegula is 8-2 against Giorgi, and has prevailed in their last five meetings. But three of those recent wins went three sets, and two finished 7-5 in the third. Also, both of Giorgi’s wins came on hard courts.
The Italian can belt the ball as big as anyone, and she made a semifinal in Eastbourne earlier this summer. But she’s notoriously streaky, and is ranked just 52nd right now. As the H2H between these two suggests, Pegula is skilled at absorbing pace, and as spectacular as Giorgi can look on certain shots, she rarely makes enough of them to pull off an upset in the end. Winner: Pegula
John Isner vs. Facundo Diaz Acosta
Earlier this summer, it seemed as if the 38-year-old Isner might be able to keep playing—and especially serving—forever. In Newport, a tournament he has won four times, he beat Tommy Paul on his way to the semifinals. But then he turned around and lost in the first round in Atlanta, an event near where he went to college that he has won six times. Was that the final nail in his career coffin? Whatever the reason, Isner has announced the Open will be his final tournament.
Will this be his final match? Isner, now ranked 157th, will take on the 22-year-old, 94th-ranked Diaz Acosta late on Tuesday afternoon in Louis Armstrong Stadium. That’s a court the towering North Carolina native has come to know well over the past 16 years.
Diaz Acosta, as you may have guessed from his Argentine nationality, is a clay-courter. So far this year, at all levels, he’s 34-14 on dirt, and just 4-3 on hard courts. But he did have a solid win over Quentin Halys on a hard court in Winston-Salem last week. Still, this is Isner’s surface, his crowd, and a farewell he’s going to want to make last as long as possible. Winner: Isner
Venus Williams vs. Greet Minnen
There are a couple of sound statistical reasons to believe that Minnen will win this match. Namely, she’s 26 and ranked 98th, and her opponent is 43 and ranked 407th. Venus has played two Slams in the last 12 months, at last year’s Open and this year’s Wimbledon, and has failed to win a set. At 5’9”, the Belgian also shouldn’t be physically overmatched by the 6’1” American.
But there are also a couple of possibly-sound reasons to think the oft-injured American will have better luck this time. Two weeks ago in Cincinnati, she recorded a rare win over a Top 20 player, and she did it without wearing any of the tape that we’ve become accustomed to seeing on her body over the past few years. And while Minnen made the third round at the Open in 2021, she has never been ranked higher than 69th.
Is she ready for a night-session audience that will be close to 100 percent behind her opponent? She needs to be. Winner: Minnen