Each day during the U.S. Open, Richard Pagliaro will preview three must-see matches—and offer his predictions. (For the men's Day 1 Three to See, click here.)
Louis Armstrong Stadium: Lucie Safarova (15) vs. Melanie Oudin
Head-to-head: Safarova leads 2-0
Set aside the fact that Safarova is 90 spots higher in the rankings and consider the circumstances at hand. The left-handed Czech was three points from the Montreal final, holding a commanding 5-1 lead over Li, when she collapsed and lost six straight games. Collateral damage from that gut-wrenching defeat could leave the Czech short on confidence against the feisty Oudin, whose best moments have come at the Open: She became a brand name in the U.S. with her inspired run to the 2009 quarterfinals as a 17-year-old, then partnered Jack Sock to win the mixed doubles title last year.
Oudin trains at the National Tennis Center, has been living in New York, and if she can get off quickly and apply her intensity to get the home crowd, involved she has a shot for the upset. Ultimately, Safarova has more weapons, and her lefty cross-court forehand to Oudin's weaker backhand wing is a winning pattern—if she can keep calm. It's tempting to pick Oudin, but Safarova has been in better form recently despite that train wreck of a loss in Canada.
The Pick: Safarova in three sets.