I like the round of 16. There are enough matches to make for constant viewing, and the stakes have become higher. Also, there are usually some "surprise" players involved, and, for me, that makes things more interesting. Here is the round of 16--or fourth round, if you will--draw for September 4:
Monica Niculescu vs. Angelique Kerber: Here are two unseeded players with a chance to get to the quarterfinals of a major tournament. Niculescu ran over 27th seed Lucie Safarova to get to the round of 16, and she also defeated a worthy opponent in countrywoman Alexandra Dulgheru. Niculescu doesn't play like Kerber; an argument can be made that she doesn't play like anyone. Kerber will need to remain stready and be prepared to run forward and scoop balls.
Peng Shuai vs. Flavia Pennetta: Peng is having a wonderful season--if you don't count her chronic hip problems. She can be a really accurate and relentless returner of serve. Tomorrow, she'll be up against a determined, creative fighter who, when her serve is on, is very dangerous.
Maria Kirilenko vs. Sam Stosur: It's no secret that I really enjoy watching Kirilenko play. She's a great thinker on the court, and she knows her way around the net. When her serve is on, she can be hard to beat. Kirilenko, the 25th seed, will be playing a woman who is considered one of the best servers on the tour. Stosur has looked very strong at this U.S. Open. Kirilenko's all-court play could make the 9th seed uncomfortable--or Stosur could use her serve to cruise through the match.
Sabine Lisicki vs. Vera Zvonareva: This is the night match, and it should be. Zvonareva, the 2nd seed, was the runner-up at last year's U.S. Open. Lisicki, the 22nd seed, won the new Texas Tennis Open just before she came to New York. She had straight-set wins in the first and third rounds, and received a second-round walkover from Venus Williams.
Lisicki is a flashy player who tends to live by her serve, forehand and drop shot. When she's good, she's very, very good, and she wins with such seeming ease that you wonder how she did it. But Lisicki has also had an abundance of illness and injury issues, and it's taken her a long time to get back to her 2009 form. While trying to get to that form, she fell victim to the double-fault syndrome.
Zvonareva doesn't have Lisicki's serve, but her serve is not a problem, either. She has a formidable backhand, which should make for an interesting contrast to her opponent's forehand. And when it comes to injury and setbacks, the Russian is a true veteran--she's been there. Zvonareva does everything well, and she has beaten Lisicki in all three of their prior matches. One of those matches took place in the second round of last year's U.S. Open. Zvonareva also defeated Lisicki at the 2011 French Open, and in this summer's Carlsbad tournament.