New York: It looms as a mismatch of classic proportions. Andy Murray, the world number four and one of the favourites to win the US Open title against Dustin Brown, a dreadlocked Jamaican ranked 123rd in the world.
When they enter Arthur Ashe Stadium on Friday to play for a spot in the third round, the odds will be heavily stacked in the Briton’s favour. Brown could be excused for feeling as though he was being fed to the lions.
Yet the Jamaican, who cannot afford a coach and spends most of his time battling it out in the German Bundesliga, does have one major advantage over his more Scottish opponent.
“Yeah, I’ve seen him on TV. I’ve seen that he’s a very good returner,” he said.
It may not be enough for him to pull off the upset, but it is more than Murray knows about Brown.
“I’ve heard about him,” Murray said. “But I haven’t seen him play, so another unknown opponent, really.”
A victory for Murray will keep him on course for a possible semi-final showdown with world number one Rafa Nadal, who plays Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin in Friday’s feature night session at Flushing Meadows.
Nadal will be the overwhelming favourite to continue his bid to land the one grand slam title that has eluded him but remains wary about Istomin after their previous clash in London two months ago that Nadal won after a tight struggle.
“He is a difficult opponent, a good player,” the Spaniard said. “I played against him in the second round of Queen’s. I had a very difficult match.”
While Murray and Nadal will be playing only their second matches, the women, who started a day earlier, will be playing their third, marking the first stage seeded players face each other.
Belgium’s Kim Clijsters, the defending champion and second seed, will tackle Czech Petra Kvitova, seeded 27th.
Venus Williams will have to wait until the fourth round before she can play a seed. Her next opponent is Luxembourg’s Many Minella, who had to come through the qualifiers just to get into the main draw.
Clijsters and Williams have both won the US Open title twice before but have niggling injury concerns and know the importance of being able to nurse themselves though the early rounds.
“I’m really just going match by match,” Williams said.
“I’m not really thinking about kind of dusting off any rust, where I might be.”