The world’s top players are beginning to face recognizable competition at the US Open as the tournament moves into its third round on Friday and Saturday.

US Open Williams Stephens
Sloane Stephens (left) and Serena Williams (right) will meet in the third round of the US Open, their first head-to-head clash since 2015. (Image: Julian Finney/Getty)

Players like Novak Djokovic, Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Alexander Zverev will take on seeded opponents on Friday, while No. 3 seed Serena Williams is set to battle fellow American Sloane Stephens on Saturday.

Lack of Crowd Won’t Ruin All-American Showdown

Williams reached the third round with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Margarita Gasparyan at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Thursday night. While Williams wasn’t sharp, she had more than enough to beat an opponent ranked outside the top 100 in the world.

“The only thing that gets me flustered is really me, like, because I always feel like I’m not winning every point,” Williams said afterward. “I just think with the pressure and everything that I felt like I just needed to be perfect. I always feel like I’m not perfect unless I’m perfect. That’s not a fun way to live your career and live your life.”

The 26th-seeded Stephens booked her place in the third-round US Open clash with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Olga Govortsova.

“I know if there were fans it would be so lit, and I’m kind of sad that we’re not playing in front of fans, because it would be so fun,” Stephens said after her win. “The atmosphere won’t be as big, but obviously a big opportunity to play against the greatest player in the world. So, yeah, unfortunate but still fortunate.”

Williams enters the matchup as a clear but not overwhelming favorite, having beaten Stephens in five of their six clashes. However, the two haven’t played since 2015. FanDuel Sportsbook lists Williams as a -325 favorite over Stephens (+245).

Matchups between seeded women include No. 14 Anett Kontaveit (-590) taking on No. 24 Magda Linette (+410) on Friday, while No. 2 Sofia Kenin (-196) faces a tough test in No. 27 Ons Jabeur (+158), and No. 15 Maria Sakkari (+104) battles No. 22 Amanda Anisimova (-128), both on Saturday.

Murray Dropped in Straight Sets

The men’s draw has seen fewer upsets in the first two rounds, which means there are even more high-profile matches over the next two days. Friday’s highlight could be the clash between Canadian No. 12 seed Dennis Shapovalov (-194) and American No. 19 Taylor Fritz (+156).

US Open Odds (Thursday Matches)

  • No. 4 Naomi Osaka (-750) vs. Marta Kostyuk (+490)
  • No. 12 Denis Shapovalov (-194) vs. No. 19 Taylor Fritz (+156)
  • No. 1 Novak Djokovic (-3500) vs. No. 28 Jan-Lennard Struff (+1200)
  • No. 5 Alexander Zverev (-650) vs. No. 32 Adrian Mannarino (+440)
  • No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas (-1100) vs. No. 27 Borna Coric (+630)

Odds via FanDuel Sportsbook

One big name who won’t compete in the third round is the unseeded Andy Murray. His US Open run ended on Thursday night when he fell to No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-2, 6-3, 6-4. Murray never earned a single break point, and didn’t seem to have enough left in the tank after going five sets on Tuesday.

“I need to build up my body and my conditioning,” Murray said after the loss. “The more tournaments you play, the more matches you play, the more you build up the robustness in your body, which I don’t really have.”

Friday’s US Open slate also includes a third-round matchup between men’s No. 1 Novak Djokovic (-3500) and No. 28 seed Jan-Lennard Struff (+1200), while women’s No. 4 Naomi Osaka (-750) battles Marta Kostyuk (+490).