• Serena Williams opens the first night session at Ashe against Magda Linette. Her match will follow a performance by Kelly Clarkson and a presentation with Billie Jean King, who was a finalist in the 1968 U.S. Open. Williams is only 1-2 on hard courts since reaching the final of Wimbledon last month. She comes into this match with questions about the state of her game — and about what fashion statement she will be making for the New York crowd.
Gendler Brothers’ Matches to Watch
For the first time since 1999, the Bryan Brothers aren’t playing together at the U.S. Open. To fill the void, the Gendler brothers — Dan and Max — will preview all the action at this year’s tournament. They’re active amateur players and have been going to the Open together for the better part of the last 15 years. Here they discuss their favorite matches on Day 1.
Grigor Dimitrov vs. Stan Wawrinka
Arthur Ashe Stadium, Noon
Dan: In many other years, this match could easily have been a semifinal, not merely a first-rounder. And yet, this is the second straight major that Dimitrov, ranked eighth, and Wawrinka are meeting in the first round. (Wawrinka won at Wimbledon.)
Max: Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, has found little success this year as he’s come back from a tough knee injury. Dimitrov finished well in 2017, winning the ATP Finals, and reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open to start 2018. But he hasn’t won any titles this year.
Dan: If you like yourself a one-handed backhand, this is the match to watch. They boast two of the finest on tour, and the slightly slow hard courts at the Open provides time to wind them up. Should be a blast, and when that’s done we get …
Venus Williams vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
Ashe Stadium, second match of the day session
Max: Venus is certainly the favorite here. I continue to marvel at her ability to produce top-level tennis despite her struggle with Sjorgen’s Syndrome. Not to mention, she’s 37, quite past the usual retirement age for tennis players.
Dan: Kuznetsova is a former U.S. Open champion who has fallen outside the top 100 after a wrist injury. If she can summon her best tennis, we’re in for something outstanding tennis, with Venus going on the attack and Kuznetsova counterpunching.
Max: It’s often difficult to watch players struggle with the impact of injuries in the later stage of their careers, but this match should be full of moments of greatness that appear between grimaces. That feels like a bit of a theme on this opening day.
Rafael Nadal vs. David Ferrer
Ashe Stadium, second match of the night session
Dan: The marquee match on Ashe is between Rafael Nadal, the No. 1 seed, and David Ferrer, his fellow Spaniard who built a hugely successful career based on technique, fitness and determination.
Max: Ferrer holds the distinction of winning the most matches on the ATP Tour without having won a Grand Slam tournament. Nadal beat him in the finals of Roland Garros in 2013, Ferrer’s only finals appearance.
Dan: Ferrer has said that this U.S. Open will most likely be his last Grand Slam event. Pushing Nadal under the lights on Ashe would be a great farewell.
Max: We can’t be stuck on Ashe all day though, let’s talk about the new and improved Louis Armstrong Stadium!
Victoria Azarenka vs. Viktoria Kuzmova
Armstrong, 7 p.m.
Dan: The first night match here features Victoria Azarenka, a two-time U.S. Open runner-up, and Viktoria Kuzmova, an up-and-coming Slovakian who won her first Grand Slam match earlier this year.
Max: Azarenka is the favorite, but this match will likely swing on Kuzmova’s serve. It can be inconsistent, and she struggles to win matches on days when that happens. Azarenka is one of the best returners on tour, especially on her backhand. If Kuzmova can stand up to Azarenka’s pressure on her serves, she could have a chance.
Around the Grounds
Max: The beauty of the first week of the Open is the plethora of great matches outside the main stadium courts. Dan, what outside courts are you looking at?
Dan: Donna Vekic and Anastasija Sevastova are third up on Court 17. Vekic has some of the cleanest, hardest strokes on tour while Sevastova has an unorthodox game. Up close the contrast in styles should be a lot of fun.
Max: How about the battle of the young Canadians? 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime got through the qualifying rounds to face his summer doubles partner: 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov, who was the breakout star of last year’s U.S. Open.
Dan: If you’re looking for players with a bit more experience, try the match between veteran Spaniards Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco. Court 11 will be a great venue to watch Lopez’s full-court game and Verdasco’s absurdly big forehand.