Iga Swiatek will be looking to kick-start her US Open series campaign with a win as she takes on American Christina McHale in her opening round match at the Western & Southern Open.
The 19-year-old has been making huge strides on the tour lately. She reached the fourth round at the 2019 French Open and repeated that result at the Australian Open earlier this year, where she lost to Annett Kontaveit in a tightly contested match.
Swiatek's last match before the tour went on the COVID-19 break was a defeat to veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova in Qatar. However, the Pole won just one match each at Cincinnati and the US Open last year, and will be eager to improve on that in 2020.
Swiatek's opponent in the first round is World No. 90 Christina McHale. The American player's best years on the tour came in 2011 and 2012, when she reached the Round of 32 at four consecutive Slams. Now 28, McHale is barely seen in the bigger tournaments with the exception of a few cameo appearances.
But partly due to the string of withdrawals this year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, McHale is a surprise entry in the main draw at the Western & Southern Open. She has come through the qualifying rounds in New York, and would be eager to make the most of her opportunity.
Iga Swiatek vs Christina McHale head-to-head
Their opening round match in New York will be first ever meeting between Iga Swiatek and Christina McHale. The pair have never met before.
Swiatek mostly played on the junior tour before 2019, and since her breakthrough performance at the French Open has barely participated in the lower rung tournaments - where McHale usually plays.
Iga Swiatek vs Christina McHale prediction
On paper, this looks like a pretty straightforward match-up for the talented 19-year-old.
Contrary to many recent Polish players, Swiatek uses a more offensive style of play with a strong serve. In an interview after her Wimbledon girls' junior title win in 2018, Swiatek had reflected on how different her game was from that of compatriot Agnieszka Radwanska. The teenager had also emphasized that she wanted to create her own path rather than imitate her successful fellow Pole's style.
Christina McHale on the other hand is known for her powerful forehand and superb court coverage and foot speed. But despite having two of the biggest strengths in modern tennis, McHale has consistently failed to produce the required results to become a top player.
For McHale to win, she will have to capitalize on each and every opportunity she gets on the Swiatek serve. It is difficult to break the Pole multiple times in any match, so McHale will have to be on her toes from the start.
Prediction: Iga Swiatek to win in straight sets.
Tournament: Western & Southern Open 2020
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York, USA
Category: WTA Premier 5
Surface: Outdoor hardcourt
Prize money: $1,950,079
Match timing: 1 pm EDT, 10.30 pm IST
Live telecast: USA - Tennis Channel / ESPN