The fourth round of the women’s singles begins in New York on Sunday at the 2014 US Open.
The bottom half of the draw has lost several of the big names that were perhaps expected to reach the second week, with the likes of Simona Halep, Aga Radwanska and Angelique Kerber all beaten in week one.
Maria Sharapova is the highest seed left in this half as a whole and she takes on Caroline Wozniacki today, while the first section of the half looks wide open, with Jelena Jankovic the top seeded player there at number nine.
So, this looks a day of opportunity for the likes of Jankovic, Lucie Safarova, Belinda Bencic and Shuai Peng and play starts at 16:00 UK time, weather permitting.
The forecast is for thunderstorms on Sunday and play looks highly likely to be disrupted today at some stage by rain.
Maria Sharapova vs Caroline Wozniacki
Surely the game of the day, this one and I have to side with Sharapova here, who looks reasonably priced at 1.55 against an opponent she’s beaten seven times from nine in all competitions.
Indeed, Sharapova was a 1.16 shot when she took Wozniacki down in the final of Indian Wells last season in their most recent clash and the Dane’s price of 2.43 today looks a little short.
Clearly, Wozniacki is having a much better time of things than she was last spring, but she’s still lost her last six in a row against top-10 opposition, dating back to a win over Petra Kvitova in Cincy last summer.
The Dane has managed to compile a 21-4 record since the French Open, with a title in Istanbul, and she’s made improvements in her serve and raised her level to about the best it can be, but this match is still on Maria’s racquet really.
Woz is still vulnerable to the power hitters, as losses to Camila Giorgi on her record show, as well as the record against this opponent and the 1-8 against Serena Williams and if Sharapova finds her best level it will surely go her way.
This one is scheduled for around 13:00 local time, so it should miss the worst of the weather, but the wind might swirl around Arthur Ashe Stadium Court, which could pose a problem for both players.
Maria’s serve is an obvious cause for concern in such circumstances and she might have to really knuckle down and battle her way through this one in that case, but I expect she will.
Sara Errani should be able to back up her win over Venus Williams with another over Simona Halep’s conqueror Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the first match of the day in Ashe, but the Italian is too short in the betting for my interest there.
Lucie Safarova had to fight to beat Alizé Cornet and her own nerves in the last round and she could have another battle on her hands today in the shape of the in-form Shuai Peng, whose game has caused the Czech problems before.
Safarova has won four of their five meetings, but they’ve been tight, and the over 21.5 games at 1.85 appeals in that one.
And perhaps the most intriguing match of the day is the midnight UK time clash between the impressive Belinda Bencic and the in-form Jelena Jankovic.
Bencic was very good indeed in her win over Angelique Kerber in the last round and a repeat of that level could see her land the upset tonight, but in tough conditions on Ashe the odds are against her.
It takes a while to get used to playing on Ashe and with JJ having played there a couple of days ago and being vastly more experienced the Serb has the edge there, but this could be tough for Jelena and I wouldn’t rule Bencic out here at 2.95.
Back Sharapova to beat Wozniacki at 1.55