You Should Know: Inside the stats of Djokovic vs. Rune

Karolina Pliskova vs. Caty McNally

Day 2 in Armstrong kicks off with a highly unpredictable first-round match between a Top 5 seed and an American teen. “Highly unpredictable,” of course, is nothing out of the ordinary for Pliskova. The powerful but easygoing Czech can beat anyone, or lose to just about anyone, on any given day. She’s been to two major finals, at the US Open in 2016 and at Wimbledon this year, but she’s also had her share of early-round flameouts at majors. That includes a second-round loss at Flushing Meadows last year.

This summer, though, Pliskova has been sharp and unusually consistent, and if she’s on, she could overmatch McNally. But if she’s off, McNally is the type of player who could take advantage. The Ohio native, and doubles partner of Coco Gauff, is still just 19, and still ranked outside the Top 100, but with her net-rushing skills she can give her opponents looks they don’t normally see. And if fans get can get through the gates and into Armstrong in time for this 11:00 A.M. start, McNally should have the lion’s share of support in the stadium. Winner: Pliskova

Novak Djokovic vs. Holger Rune

Welcome to the big time, Mr. Rune; it doesn’t get much bigger or scarier than this. Rune is an 18-year-old from Denmark who has been ranked No. 1 in the world in juniors, and who survived a gruelingly hot week of qualifying to make it here. What does he get for his troubles? A night match in Arthur Ashe Stadium against the No. 1 player in the world, who also happens to be trying to become the first man in 52 years to win a calendar-year Grand Slam.

Rune has been on something of a roll lately at the Challenger level, where he has won 10 straight matches and two straight tournaments on European clay. Maybe that momentum is what carried him through the qualifies on American hard courts, but I wouldn’t expect it to get him far against Djokovic. This match might not be competitive, but, like everything Djokovic does over the next two weeks, it will be historic. Winner: Djokovic


Taylor Fritz vs. Alex de Minaur

Armstrong will close its night session with a potentially lengthy battle between two Next Genners, both of whom are trying to put strangely sub-par Augusts behind them and close out their 2021 Slam seasons on high notes. The 23-year-old Fritz recovered from knee surgery in record time this spring, but he has lost in the first round at his last three US Open tuneups, in D.C., Toronto, and Cincinnati. De Minaur won the title in Eastbourne in June, only to go 1-4 and lose three straight opening rounds himself since. In other words, both of these guys can use a win.

Based on their head-to-head, it will probably be de Minaur, who hasn’t dropped a set in their three meetings. But this is New York at night, and, if things go on long enough, Fritz should have a crowd behind him. Winner: Fritz