Both reigning champions, Rafael Nadal and Bianca Andreescu, chose not to attempt a repeat. Roger Federer has shut down his season because of injury. Fan favorite Gael Monfils, is, like the crowd that adores him, also absent. Six of the women’s top 10 are missing, including No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and No. 2 Simona Halep, leaving No. 3 Karolina Pliskova as the top seed.
With the lack of a qualifying draw this year, the entry cutoff for this year’s women’s singles draw was about 50 spots weaker than it was last year, in terms of ranking. There are still plenty of quality players in both singles tournaments, but its distribution is less even than usual because of the absences.
Here are some matches to keep an eye on.
Because of the number of matches cycling through courts, the times for individual matchups are at best a guess and certain to fluctuate based on the completion time of earlier play. All times are Eastern.
Arthur Ashe Stadium | 1 p.m. At Earliest
Kevin Anderson vs. Alexander Zverev
Kevin Anderson, a finalist at the U.S. Open in 2017, missed last year’s competition as part of a lengthy struggle with injuries. Anderson was ranked fifth in the world at the peak of his career in 2018, but is now ranked outside the top 100. Last week, at the Western & Southern Open, Anderson beat Kyle Edmund, the world No. 44, in a tight three-set match before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the second round. Even though Anderson has slipped from his peak, his powerful serves and groundstrokes can still be used as a bludgeon to allow him to press toward the net and control points.
Alexander Zverev, the fifth seed, has beaten Anderson all five times they have played, including three times on hardcourts in the United States in the summer. The one major differentiator coming into this match could be serve consistency, which Zverev has struggled with over the last year. Zverev lost to Andy Murray last week, and double-faulted three times while serving for the match in the third set.
Court 17 | 4:30 p.m.
Anett Kontaveit vs. Danielle Collins
Danielle Collins, unseeded at this year’s U.S. Open, started 2019 with a breakout. She reached the semifinals at the Australian Open, but had a hard time following that success, reaching only the second round at the 2019 U.S. Open. At the beginning of 2020, she rebounded, beating Elina Svitolina, Sofia Kenin and Belinda Bencic during the Australian swing of the WTA season. Collins’s aggressive style is suited to the faster hardcourts, and her powerful baseline game transitions well to the net.
Her opponent, Anett Kontaveit, is built in a similar vein. Kontaveit became the first Estonian, male or female, to reach a Grand Slam quarterfinal at this year’s Australian Open. Kontaveit, seeded No. 14, will be looking to replicate that success on a similar hardcourt surface in Flushing Meadows. Kontaveit’s main weapon, an incredibly varied serve, is particularly effective in forcing weak returns, which could make it difficult for Collins to establish her groundstrokes when returning.