Eight US Open first-round matches you don’t want to miss (such as Raonic vs Tsitsipas)

With 128 matches unfolding over the first two days of the US Open, we break down the eight first round matches you don’t want to miss

Venus Williams US Open2023 Venus Williams, 2023 | © Zuma / Panoramic
US Open •First round • completed
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Over the first two days of the US Open 2023, 128 matches will play out across the men’s and women’s singles events. Even the most die-hard tennis fan won’t be able to catch them all, so we’ve outlined the eight best matches you need to see from the US Open first round:

1. Stan Wawrinka vs Yoshihito Nishioka

Former US Open champion Stan Wawrinka takes on Yoshihito Nishioka, who has made the last 16 at Grand Slams twice already in 2023. The combination of Wawrinka’s relentless desire to win, and Nishioka’s grinding, protracted style of play makes this a fascinating contest in the US Open first round.

Nishioka is not known for his big weapons, but the Japanese player can certainly run all day – as seen at Roland-Garros, where he played two five-setters in four matches. If Wawrinka wants to progress here, he’s going to need to hit through the world No 43, or outlast him, both of which will be entertaining outcomes.

2. Venus Williams vs Greet Minnen 

Surely this is the last hurrah for one of the WTA Tour’s finest players. At 43 years of age and sitting at 407 in the rankings, Venus Williams has yet again been given a wild card entry to her home slam, one which she’s lifted on two occasions.

Regardless of the outcome of this first-round match, expect a packed house as the American public come out to will on the seven-time Grand Slam champion, and who knows – we might see her keep the dream alive against world No 59 Greet Minnen.

3. Emil Ruusuvuori vs Andrey Rublev

Less than a week ago, Emil Ruusuvuori sent Andrey Rublev crashing out of the Cincinnati Masters in the first round. Now, the Russian has an opportunity to avenge his 7-6 (10), 5-7, 7-6 (3) loss, with the pair set to meet again in the US Open first round.

Rublev will be determined to improve his break point conversion, having only capitalised on seven of 16 chances in their recent three-set match. 

4. Sloane Stephens vs Beatriz Haddad Maia 

Former US Open champion Sloane Stephens comes up against No 19 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia in what should be a fiery first-round encounter. Stephens is capable of playing inspired tennis at times, having recently reached the round of 16 at the Cincinnati Masters and made the quarter-finals in Cleveland, and will have the American crowd behind her.

Haddad Maia will be determined to navigate this initial test, however, with the Brazilian coming into the US Open off a strong showing at Grand Slams this year, making the semi-finals at Roland-Garros and round of 16 at Wimbledon.

5. Milos Raonic vs Stefanos Tsitsipas

Absent from the ATP Tour for almost two months, Milos Raonic returned over the hard court summer and made a big splash, knocking world No 10 Frances Tiafoe out of the Toronto Masters. Stefanos Tsitsipas, on the other hand, has had a wobbly second half of the year, particularly struggling against big servers such as Chris Eubanks and Hubert Hurkacz.

Raonic will be licking his lips at this match-up, as the Canadian’s serve is as big as it gets. If the former world No 3 manages to get his biggest weapon firing, then we could be in for an upset in round one at the US Open.

6. Alexander Bublik vs Dominic Thiem 

Two household names on the ATP Tour, Alexander Bublik and Dominic Thiem couldn’t be more contrasting players. Bublik is mercurial and big serving, Thiem is composed and powerful for the baseline. 

With both men desperately in need of a win here – Bublik is winless since Wimbledon, and Thiem is still trying to put together a deep run after returning from injury – expect a fascinating contest in a clash of polar opposites. 

7. Sebastian Baez vs Borna Coric

Last but not least, how could we neglect this tantalising rematch? Just days ago, Sebastian Baez and Borna Coric played an epic three-hour, 19-minute semi-final at the Winston-Salem Open, with the Argentinian clinching the match through a third-set tiebreak. 

Now, they get to do it all again. Coric will be eager for redemption after coming within two points of victory in Winston-Salem, while Baez will be full of confidence, riding a 10-match winning streak and two ATP titles over the past fortnight.

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