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Taylor Townsend, of the United States, reacts after defeating Simona Halep, of Romania, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)
Taylor Townsend, of the United States, reacts after defeating Simona Halep, of Romania, during the second round of the US Open tennis championships Thursday, Aug. 29, 2019, in New York. (AP Photo/Kevin Hagen)|Associated Press
Tennis

U.S. Open Monday women's round of 16: Abrams picks Osaka vs Bencic, Andreescu vs Townsend, Mertens vs Ahn

First match is noon EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

2019 U.S. Open

Flushing Meadows, NY, USA

Monday, September 2, 2019

Women’s Round of 16

Naomi Osaka over Belinda Bencic

Naomi Osaka has a chance of defending her 2018 U.S. Open title. I’d be surprised if she accomplished that task, but here she is in the Round of 16 with a match that she should win, and once you get into the second week of a Slam, anything can happen. Bencic is an accomplished player, and is attractive to watch, but she lacks the crushing power that Osaka has. Osaka has a great serve and she cracks her groundstrokes with power and precision. I know that Osaka is on when I see her bend her knees to the extreme when trying to swat back a particularly hard, deep stroke. When she’s that flexible, when she sees the ball that well, when she plays defense as well as offense, she’s at the top of her game.

Bianca Andreescu over Taylor Townsend

American Taylor Townsend has made a lot of friends this week, and now has a legitimate fan following after her exciting run in the Open. Unfortunately for her, that run should end here. Canadian Bianca Andreescu is back to playing terrific tennis after recovering from injury, and I think she’s got the best chance of winning this tournament than anyone else left in the draw. Considering the draw still has Osaka and Serena in it, that’s a mighty high compliment, but I believe it. Townsend will try to serve-and-volley her way past Andreescu, but the Canadian should be able to find her way past that tactic. She’s talented, she’s motivated, and she’s proven herself to be a tenacious competitor, and I see Andreescu rolling over one of American’s new heroines.

Elise Mertens over Kristie Ahn

Kristie Ahn is another American “feel-good” story, having never won a match in any Grand Slam tournament until now, and having made this terrific run to the Fourth Round here in The City she has become a known entity worldwide. Frankly, I’d love to see the Stanford grad win this match. But realistically, I think her run is over. If Ahn is to have a chance, she’ll have to rush the baseliner and rob her of time, and that can either be done by catching the ball early—hitting it on it’s way up, or by closing to net. If Ahn chooses to stay back and bash with the 5’11” Belgian, she’ll stand no chance. Mertens is a seasoned professional and if Ahn plays Mertens’ game, the Belgian will win because she’s better at it than Ahn. This is a big match; the winner moves into the quarters here in the Big Apple, so they will both take this opportunity seriously. It would be great for Amerian tennis, and for Ahn, if she could overcome the 23-year-old Belgian, but I just don’t see that in the cards.

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