Caroline Wozniacki, Madison Keys Showdown Soon?

Caroline Wozniacki versus Madison Keys could be in the works soon at the 2016 US Open.

Caroline Wozniacki has historically played her best tennis at Flushing Meadows. The former World No. 1 made the final at the 2009 event (l. to Kim Clijsters) and the Dane did the same at the 2014 event (l. to Serena Williams). Currently, Wozniacki is into the third round of the 2016 US Open following a confidence-building victory over a former US Open champion.

Wozniacki drew Svetlana Kuznetsova in the 2nd round, the winner of the 2004 US Open. Many might have had the Russian as the favorite heading into the match, especially since Wozniacki has not enjoyed a great season to date.

“I’m going to have tough draws,” she claimed, “because of my ranking, but at the end of the day I’m healthy, and that’s the main thing.”

Wozniacki certainly looked healthy in her match against Kuznetsova. The Russian bolted out to a 4-0 and 0-30 lead in the first set, however that’s when everything suddenly turned around. As Kuznetsova put it:

“Five minutes ago I was up 4-0 and then I’ve lost the set.”

Wozniacki would win the second set 6-4 as well for what looks like a tidy 6-4, 6-4 win on paper. Looking ahead, the Dane has to be feeling good about the next round.

She will next face Monica Niculescu, a player who is ranked 58th in the world. Niculescu has played in every Grand Slam except for one since the 2008 Australian Open. For her efforts, the veteran has won just two third-round matches. Furthermore, Wozniacki is a clean 6-0 against Niculescu, a heads-up record that strongly implies that the former World No. 1 will be heading back to the second week of a Grand Slam for the first time this season.

But how Wozniacki will do if she survives the third round is a good question. Madison Keys looms very large in this section of the draw and a fourth-round match up between her and the Dane is quite possible. Keys has Naomi Osaka to deal with in the third round, an 18 year old Japanese player looking to make a name for herself. But if Keys and Wozniacki both advance then a fourth-round popcorn match will result between the rising-star Keys and the veteran Wozniacki.

“I always believe in myself, and I always think that in my head I belong to the top of the game,” Wozniacki said after beating Kuznetsova.

A healthy and determined Wozniacki is a dangerous player – arguably more dangerous than Keys. However, the Dane is still just getting back to her best tennis. She will probably need to find it soon in order to get into Madison Keys’ excellent serve. Nonetheless, with Garbine Muguruza out in this quarter Keys and Wozniacki seem like strong candidates for the semifinals in Flushing. For certain, the days ahead look very interesting for Danish and American tennis fans alike.

Shane Lambert