US Open Popcorn Matches: Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz among must-see contests on Day Eight
The US Open action rumbles on into Day Eight on Monday, with Rafael Nadal and Carlos Alcaraz among those in action.
Here are a selection of the popcorn matches you won’t want to miss.
Petra Kvitova v Jessica Pegula
The women’s draw in any major is always tough to predict, but both Petra Kvitova and Jessica Pegula look to have a legitimate chance of winning the US Open.
Kvitova is a veteran of the WTA Tour now and, realistically, she won’t have many more opportunities to add to her two Wimbledon titles.
While Kvitova’s best days are probably behind her, you feel like Pegula is just coming into hers, and few have been in as formidable form as the American lately. She will have to deal with the added pressure of playing on Arthur Ashe as the home favourite, but that just adds to the intrigue.
Frances Tiafoe v Rafael Nadal
With Daniil Medvedev crashing out in the fourth round against Nick Kyrgios, it’s starting to look like the stars could be aligning for Rafael Nadal to nab a record-extending 23rd major.
He looked much more like his usual self in his demolition of Richard Gasquet in the last round, but Frances Tiafoe will provide a very different test.
The American is one of the few who can probably match Nadal’s physicality, and he will be roared on by a vocal home support.
This looks like a genuine potential banana-skin for Nadal, although few will still be brave enough to back Tiafoe to win it.
Marin Cilic v Carlos Alcaraz
It is tempting to put this one down to a past versus future match-up, but that is probably unkind on both players.
Marin Cilic won the US Open eight years ago, but he proved at the French Open that he is still a real force when in the right mood.
Carlos Alcaraz, meanwhile, is seemingly getting a bit sick about been talked about as one for the future and with good reason. He is very much a top player right now, and easily capable of winning this tournament.
This one should be a really fascinating scrap, especially if Cilic is on his game.
Cameron Norrie v Andrey Rublev
Cameron Norrie is the last remaining Brit in the US Open and he will be fancying his chances of at least matching his semi-final run at Wimbledon.
If that is to happen, he will have to get past an Andrey Rublev who appears to be misfiring slightly, but is still incredibly dangerous.
On paper it’s a good match-up for the left-handed Norrie. He should be able to target the backhand wing of the Russian and draw unforced errors. It’s still one that is far too close to call, though.
Iga Swiatek v Jule Niemeier
There has been a quiet efficiency about Iga Swiatek during the US Open, and that is ominous for every woman remaining in the tournament.
Dominating matches so routinely that it is not even drawing attention is the hallmark of all truly elite players, and that is definitely the level at which Swiatek operates now.
She will face an interesting test in Jule Niemier, though. Her recent form suggests she is a lot better than her ranking of 108 would suggest, and she has the power to trouble most on the WTA Tour.
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