Three to See, US Open Day 8: Osaka v. Sabalenka; Federer v. Millman

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WATCH—Daily Mix from Day 6 at the US Open:

[20] Naomi Osaka vs [26] Aryna Sabalenka

If you haven’t seen Sabalenka play, do not miss her match against fellow 20-year-old Osaka. Sabalenka has been on fire, winning 12 of her last 13 matches. In her latest win, she made astonishingly quick work of Petra Kvitova, 7-5, 6-1, as her power and ball striking proved to be too much to handle for two-time Grand Slam champion.

She will now face the similarly sizzling Osaka, who has lost a total of seven games through her first three rounds. Both players create immense power from the baseline; this may be the hardest-hitting matchup of the tournament. Osaka will be fresh after her 6-0, 6-0 victory over world No. 33 Aliaksandra Sasnovich. And at some point, fatigue will have to affect Sabalenka—this will be her 17th match in less than a month. But that point is yet to come.

The Pick: Sabalenka

[10] David Goffin vs [7] Marin Cilic

Cilic will need to recover quickly after his epic four-hour comeback victory against Alex De Minaur; the match didn’t finish until 2:22 A.M. on Sunday morning. Goffin is not the opponent you want to face with sore legs. The diminutive Belgian will probe the Croat from the beginning. If Cilic shows any weakness, then Goffin is sure to find and exploit it.

Cilic will need to find a way to open up the court against Goffin, as you can’t hit through him. Goffin absorbs pace better than almost anyone, redirecting the ball with laser precision. Cilic barely defeated De Minaur and, at this point in his career, de Minaur is like the poor man’s Goffin. Cilic will need to serve his best, otherwise David could slay another giant.

The Pick: Cilic

[2] Roger Federer vs John Millman

Millman is playing the best tennis of his career, and may have his opponent to thank for that. Shortly after the French Open, Millman trained with Federer for a week. Subsequently, Millman has had his best results, topped by a fourth-round run at Flushing Meadows. In doing so, he has already earned his biggest paycheck ever, a guaranteed $370,000.

Federer is always must-see television, and his shotmaking this tournament has been jaw-dropping. If Millman has any chance at an upset, he will need to serve his way to a tiebreaker. Millman went the distance with Federer back in 2015—their only prior meeting.

Don't expect even that to happen this time, though I expect Millman to play well. He shouldn’t be nervous, as his big payday is coming, win or lose. Everything at this point is just icing on the cake. 

The Pick: Federer


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