Maria Sharapova and Sloane Stephens are both on the schedule of play for Friday at the 2017 Us Open. Each player will be contesting third-round matches against lesser-known opponents. Sharapova and Stephens may still face one another in the quarterfinals as each player appears to have a favorable draw to that point in the tournament. With the way the draw is, it would be surprising if neither of those players made the Grand Slam's semifinal round.

Stephens scheduled in afternoon session

Stephens' will play her match first on Friday as she is scheduled second for Louis Armstrong Stadium. Her match is to follow the Nicolas Mahut/Pablo Carreno Busta match, one that is scheduled to start at 11 am ET in New York.

Stephens will face Ashleigh Barty, an emerging Australian player on the women's tour. The American could face a tough test, but Stephens has played well of late, and it should take some stellar tennis to eliminate her from the draw. After making the semifinals in both Toronto and Cincinnati, Stephens is clearly in good form despite only recently returning from injury.

Sharapova is scheduled to close Arthur Ashe Stadium [VIDEO] on Friday night against Sofia Kenin. Caroline Wozniacki is one player that complained about Sharapova receiving matches in the stadium. Wozniacki, after being eliminated from the draw, in an interview with The Guardian she criticized the tournament's decision to schedule someone "who comes back from a drug sentence" on the main show court at Flushing Meadows. Kenin, Sharapova's next opponent, is an 18-year old player who is appearing in her third career major.

The 2017 US Open is the first Grand Slam where she has made it out of the first round. That makes the matchup between Sharapova and Kenin one that features a past champion against a peripheral player that is still ranked outside of the top 100 on the women's tour.

Semifinal showdown ahead

Stephens and Sharapova need to survive their third-round matches on Friday. If they both do that and if they both win their fourth-round matches then that would set up a blockbuster showdown in the quarterfinals next week. There isn't a high seed in that section of the draw any longer as both Stephens and Sharapova are unseeded in the tournament. Julia Goerges and Anastasia Sevastova are the seeded players still alive in this section of the draw. Stephens and Sharapova are the more-proven players meaning that it will take an upset to prevent Stephens and Sharapova from playing one another.