| By Eric C. Peck

Behind upset after upset, the young American women have become the story of week one at the 2011 U.S. Open. Two of these rising stars will be back on the court on Friday looking to slay another set seeded players, as Christina McHale from Englewood Cliff, N.J., who upset the number eight seed Marion Bartoli from France on Wednesday, will take on the number 25 seed, Russian Maria Kirilenko in the first match of the evening at Arthur Ashe Stadium. In addition to McHale's match today, another American, Irina Falconi from Alpharetta, Ga., who defeated the number 14 seed Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia in the second round, will meet the number 22 seed, Sabine Lisicki of Germany on the Grandstand.

Currently ranked 79th in the world, Falconi realized a dream on Wednesday when her match was moved to the grand stage of Arthur Ashe Stadium after Venus Williams was forced out of the event with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain. Irina made the most of her opportunity, when she knocked off Cibulkova, 2-6, 6-3, 7-5, to advance to the third round and today's match against into today’s third-round match against Lisicki, currently ranked 18th in the world. She is the third match on the Grandstand today.

A collegiate standout at Georgia Tech, the 21-year-old Falconi earned All-American honors as a freshman and was the number one player in the 2009-10 season-end Intercollegiate Tennis Association rankings as a sophomore, with an overall record of 40-3. She turned pro following her sophomore year. Falconi received a wild card into the 2010 US Open Qualifying Tournament and became just the 10th qualifying wild card in U.S. Open history to qualify for the main draw, where she fell to the number 19 seed, Flavia Pennetta in the first round.

Since leaving Georgia Tech, Falconi has made steady progress on the USTA Pro Circuit. She was number seven on the 2010 USTA Pro Circuit prize money list and earlier this year, reached the finals of both the singles and doubles at the $100,000 event in Midland, Mich., to close in on the top 100. Falconi has played in the main draw of all four Grand Slams in 2011, qualifying for the Australian Open and Wimbledon, and she won a USTA playoff to earn a wild card into Roland Garros.

Falconi posted her best-ever WTA result in July when she reached the semifinals in College Park, Md., and entered the 2011 U.S. Open ranked 79th in the world, two spots shy of her career best achieved earlier in August. She lived in New York from ages three to 14, and would come to the U.S. Open annually with her parents to take in the action at Flushing Meadows, and now she graces the courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in the final Grand Slam event of 2011.

Also in action on Friday, the number two seed Vera Zvonereva will take on Anabel Medina Garrigues from Spain during the day at Arthur Ashe Stadium; the number three seed Maria Sharapova will face a tough test in the number 26 seed, Italy's Flavia Pennetta also at Ashe Stadium; and a battle of two seeds at Louis Armstrong Stadium will take place between the number 24 seed, Russia's Nadia Petrova and the ninth-seeded Australian Samantha Stosur.

On the men’s side, 2010 U.S. Open Boys Singles winner and two-time reigning USTA Boys 18s National Champion Jack Sock from Nebraska will attempt to join the upset parade when he takes on the number 21 seed and fellow American Andy Roddick under the lights at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Seven Americans on the men's side of the draw are among the 32 in action in singles today, including a second all-American matchup between the number 28 seed John Isner and 2005 U.S. Open semifinalist Robby Ginepri. The Isner-Ginepri winner could potentially face another American in the third round if Alex Bogomolov Jr. can defeat Brazil's Rogerio Dutra Da Silva. The remaining two U.S. men will each need to conquer a seed to advance, with fan favorite James Blake will take on the number five seed, David Ferrer from Spain, and Donald Young will take on 2010 U.S. Open quarterfinalist, the number 14 seed Stanislas Wawrinka from Switzerland.

Also on the men's side, the number two seed, Spain's Rafael Nadal, looks to advance onward against France's Nicolas Mahut in Friday afternoon action at Arthur Ashe Stadium; and Great Britain's Andy Murray, seeded number four, will take on Robin Haase of The Netherlands at Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Click here for the full schedule of matches for Day Five of the 2011 U.S. Open.

Eric C. Peck is Editor-in-Chief of Long Island Tennis Magazine. He may be reached by e-mail at eric@litennismag.com