This post will preview two exciting US Open third round matches, Makarova-Suarez Navarro and Barty-Stephens that will take place on Friday.
1. Ekaterina Makarova [No.40] vs Carla Suarez Navarro [No.35]
Makarova’s route to this stage
R1: d. Mona Barthel, 6-2 6-1
R2: d.  Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2 6-7(5) 6-1
Suarez Navarro’s route to this stage
R1: d. Ipek Soylu, 6-4 6-2
R2: d.  Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, 4-6 7-6(4) 6-2
Ekaterina Makarova and Carla Suarez Navarro’s years have been the opposite so far, though in the beginning they both started pretty badly. Fortunes began to turn around for Makarova in Washington DC where she captured her third singles title by beating Julia Goerges. From then on her confidence was sky-high, reaching the round of 16 in both Toronto and Cincinnati. She has continued then good form into New York where she claimed her ninth(!) top 10 win of the year over Caroline Wozniacki. Makarova failed to serve the match out in the second set, but played brilliant peak tennis in the third to seal the win. Suarez Navarro’s second round victory was completely different from Makarova – the Spaniard was pretty much trailing against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the entire match but turned things around when the latter failed to serve out the match (as usual). She played her best tennis in the third set, breaking serve four times and eventually amassing a 21-17 winner-unforced error ratio.
Suarez Navarro leads the head to head 6-2 and has won their four previous encounters, including a 6-3 6-1 thumping this year in Eastbourne. However Makarova is a different player since then and she has the weapons to move Suarez Navarro around the court and give no time for her to set up her strokes. If she hits a ton of winners and make her ventures to the net like she did against Wozniacki (51 winners and 85% points won at the net to be exact), Suarez Navarro could stand no chance in this one.
2. Ashleigh Barty [No.42] vs Sloane Stephens [No.83]
Barty’s route to this stage
R1: d.  Ana Konjuh. 4-6 6-0 6-1
R2: d. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, 6-1 7-6(7)
Stephens’ route to this stage
R1: d. Roberta Vinci, 7-5 6-1
R2: d.  Dominika Cibulkova, 6-2 5-7 6-3
Another unseeded match-up but definitely one to watch between two very in-form players – Sloane Stephens and Ashleigh Barty. Stephens reached the semifinals of Toronto and Cincinnati while Barty is definitely having the best year of her career this year, setting an intriguing background to this match. Both players navigated tough opponents to reach this stage – Barty came back from a set down to beat Ana Konjuh in the first round and then saved a set point against Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second set. Stephens got past former finalist Roberta Vinci then needed three sets to defeat No.11 seed Dominika Cibulkova.
Looking very forward to this first time match-up! I think Stephens has the upper hand in her power and groundstrokes, but Barty has the trickier game with her slice and smart arrays to the net. I’ll go with Stephens – she has been so impressive during this summer swing and if she keeps it up and pins Barty in her backhand corner I think she can dictate the majority of the points.