The women’s draw at the US Open at Flushing Meadows in New York over the next fortnight could be the most high profile tournament there has been as it is widely regarded that it will signal the end of the great Serena Williams.
She is giving way to the new breed of exciting young talent and one of those players won this title last year when Emma Raducanu have the fortnight of her life. The Briton is back in New York looking to defend the title.
2021 – Emma Raducanu
2020 – Naomi Osaka
2019 – Bianca Andreescu
2018 – Naomi Osaka
2017 – Sloane Stephens
2016 – Angelique Kerber
2015 – Flavia Pennetta
2014 – Serena Williams
2013 – Serena Williams
2012 – Serena Williams
The normal Grand Slam rules apply to the women’s draw too in that 128 ladies qualify for the tournament and are placed in a knockout draw which was revealed on Friday. The entire tournament is the best of three sets with a match tiebreak in the final set at 6-6 should it be needed. The winner is crowned on the second Saturday evening inside the Arthur Ashe Stadium assuming the weather cooperates.
The world number one Iga Swiatek has been one of the most dominant sportspeople of the year and she is a pretty obvious number one seed here as she goes about trying to win her third Grand Slam title and first outside of Roland Garros. She is seeded to meet the home hope Jessica Pegula in the last eight but the six seeds looking to stop that from happening are Elise Mertens, Cincinnati finalist Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Amanda Anisimova and Ekaterina Alexandrova.
There will be plenty of great players and rising stars who aren’t seeded this fortnight and one of those is in this section in the form of the 2017 champion Sloane Stephens. Sofia Kenin is a Grand Slam champion looking to get back to where she was before her injury while Clara Tauson, Irina Begu, Viktorija Golubic and Alexandra Sasnovich are all competent challengers who might be able to put a run together.
Paula Badosa is another player who has had a fine season and she has been rewarded with the number four seeding for third tournament. She heads up the second quarter and will be looking to come through to the semi-final. Her toughest test is likely to be the hard hitting Aryna Sabalenka. The other seeds looking to reach the last four themselves include the Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina, Danielle Collins, the defending champion Emma Raducanu, Belinda Bencic, Karolina Pliskova and Victoria Azarenka.
This is already a loaded section but it gets tougher when you consider that the 2018 and 2020 champion Naomi Osaka is in this quarter as well. She seems to only win this tournament in the even years so it might be her turn again. Marie Bouzkova impressed at Wimbledon and is in this quarter too as are the likes of Taylor Townsend, Petra Martic, Alize Cornet, Venus Williams, Kaia Kanepi and Alison Van Uytvanck.
Maria Sakkari has done enough to head to New York as the number three seed in this tournament and she is in the third quarter as a result of that. She is seeded to meet the twice Grand Slam champion Simona Halep in what would be a wonderful quarter final should it happen. Those other seeds in this section are Alison Riske-Amritraj, Cincinnati champion Caroline Garcia, Beatriz Haddad Maia, Coco Gauff, Madison Keys and Jil Teichmann.
There is another former champion in this quarter of the draw in the unseeded fraternity in the form of Bianca Andreescu, who would surely have added to her Grand Slam tally had she been able to stay fit. Danaya Yastremska is likely to get plenty of support this week with what is going on in her homeland while Camila Giorgi and Tatjana Maria both have great grass seasons and will look to back that up here. Harmony Tan beat Serena Williams at Wimbledon and could be another danger.
Anett Kontaveit is the second seed in the draw this year. The Estonian held that position at Wimbledon last month but couldn’t get going at all. She is seeded to meet the woman who made the final at SW19 in the quarter final in the form of Ons Jabeur. Six seeds will look to make a name for themselves this week and they are Martina Trevisan, Barbora Krejcikova, 2021 finalist Leylah Fernandez, Daria Kasatkina, Veronika Kudermetova and Shelby Rogers.
This is the section which will have more attention on it than any other in this draw because it is the one which the great Serena Williams is in. She is likely to be playing her final Grand Slam and the fairytale is that she matches Margaret Court’s record of 24 slam titles on the second Saturday. Karolina Muchova, Ajla Tomljanovic, Ludmilla Samsonova, Harriet Dart, Donna Vekic and Sara Sorribes Tormo are some of the others to catch the eye looking through the draw.
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There is no hiding away from the form of Daria Kasatkina at the present time and having not been eligible for Wimbledon, the Russian could make up for that in a big way this week. She is in the bottom quarter where Anett Kontaveit and Ons Jabeur are the main seeds. Kontaveit is 4-4 since the French Open on courts other than clay with all four wins coming against opponents ranked outside the top 50 while Jabeur seems to be suffering from an understandable Wimbledon hangover as she has won two of the five matches she has played since then. She went to Wimbledon as arguably the favourite to win the title and suffered a heartbreaking loss in the final where she didn’t play well at all. Kasatkina might have to make herself the least popular person in New York this week as she might be the one to end the career of Serena Williams but they wouldn’t meet until a quarter final and you would imagine the American legend will bow out before then. Kasatkina has won in San Jose and Granby this month and although the concern is that she bombed out in the first round in Toronto and Cincinnati, she was a semi-finalist in the French Open where she ran into Iga Swiatek and the same opponent took care of her in Melbourne too. Kasatkina has a lot of good form in the book and if she can go again after last week, which she should be able to as her last four wins came at the expense of just 20 games, then the 33/1 on her has to be snapped up.
Elise Mertens has a very consistent record in Grand Slams without going incredibly deep in one but she has made the quarter finals here twice and we saw a rank outsider win here last year. Mertens wouldn’t be one of those but she isn’t a favourite either. In the last 12 Grand Slams the Belgian has made the second week in 10 of them so she is extremely solid in the majors and could be the sort of player who enjoys the pace she receives on the ball here. Mertens’ form hasn’t been anything special leading in here but who had heard of Raducanu last year so form isn’t everything in this tournament. A liking for the conditions and the environment means more to me and two spins to the last eight, where she lost to the champion Andreescu in 2019 and then Azarenka in 2020, suggests she likes it here. I’ll pay to see if she can come through a draw which might well open up like it did last year.
I am leaving that second quarter well alone. That is the minefield of all minefields to me but I do feel obliged to get involved in the third quarter where I’m not convinced by either Maria Sakkari or to a lesser extent Simona Halep in these conditions. To be fair the defensive skills of the latter are always tough to break through but if anyone is going to do it then it will be here with the firmer and faster conditions.
I like power in this quarter and Madison Keys has plenty of it. She also has plenty of form as well having made the last four in Cincinnati a couple of weeks ago while on the hard courts earlier in the season she won in Adelaide and then made the semi-final of the Australian Open before she ran into an unbeatable Ash Barty. Keys made the last eight in Indian Wells as well when she ran into an Iga Swiatek who was equally as unbeatable around that time so her hard court form is very good and these fast conditions should really suit the 2017 finalist in this very tournament. 13/1 for her to come through a quarter which might look tougher than it plays feels big to me.
Back D.Kasatkina to win US Open (e/w) for a 1/10 stake at 34.00 with William Hill (1/2 1-2)
Back her here:
Back E.Mertens to win US Open (e/w) for a 0.5/10 stake at 126.00 with Sky Bet (1/2 1-2)
Back M.Keys to win 3rd Quarter for a 1/10 stake at 14.00 with Betfair