Karolina Pliskova and Angelique Kerber were the finalist at the US Open last year(/Jean Catuffe)
The final Grand Slam tournament of the year is just three days away, and we are undoubtedly set for an exciting women’s draw at the US Open in which there are several potential contenders for the title.
Angelique Kerber, the defending champion and sixth seed, will be aiming for a strong result after a tricky season to date, and may be inspired by a place she has had so much success in the past. World number one Karolina Pliskova, who lost to the German in the final last season, is an extremely strong contender to win her first Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows, though perhaps the marginal favorite is third seed Garbine Muguruza; the Spaniard won Wimbledon and impressed to win the Western and Southern Open, though has never made it past the second round in New York.
Another inform player is second seed Simona Halep, who has the best opportunity to end the tournament as world number one, though she has been drawn against 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in an extremely interesting first round clash.
Two more former champions, eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova and ninth seed Venus Williams, will also fancy their chances when action begins, as will the likes of fifth seed and two-time finalist Caroline Wozniacki, fourth seed Elina Svitolina, and seventh seed Johanna Konta, who are all aiming to win a first major title. French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko and Madison Keys may also be in with a shout of victory.
Pliskova, Halep, Muguruza, Svitolina, Wozniacki, Konta, Kuznetsova, and Williams can all be world number one after the tournament.
Projected Q/F: (1st) Karolina Pliskova vs (8th) Svetlana Kuznetsova
Pliskova has faced some criticism for reaching the world number one ranking without winning a slam title, though has a potentially promising draw in the early stages in New York. The Czech should have few issues against Magda Linette in the first round, and then potentially Veronica Cepede Royg and 27th seed Shuai Zhang in the second and third round respectively are opponents she should be able to defeat.
A potential fourth round match against 14th seed Kristina Mladenovic may be difficult, but the Frenchwoman’s season has become slightly derailed following the French Open. She faces an opening round clash against the difficult Monica Niculescu, with 23rd seed Barbora Strycova facing Misaki Doi and the ever-popular Andrea Petkovic present.
Kuznetsova is set to face tenth seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the fourth round, though both women may find it difficult to get to that stage. The Russian should see off the dangerous Marketa Vondrousova in the first round, though dangers could await in the third round against the likes of 26th seed Anett Kontaveit or Lucie Safarova, who face off in the first round or maybe even young American Catherine Bellis.
Radwanska faces a tough opener against Petra Martic, with Yulia Putintseva a potential second round opponent and 20th seed Coco Vandeweghe also present. The Pole has struggled this season, and may struggle with this draw; she is 4-14 against Kuznetsova, assuming the two meet.
Prediction: Pliskova def Kuznetsova
Projected Q/F: (4th) Elina Svitolina vs (6th) Angelique Kerber
Kerber was on such a high after her triumph last year, though she comes into Flushing Meadows in poor form and faces a very tricky opening round clash against Naomi Osaka. However, if she can pass that test, the draw will not be too tricky to make the second week, with the likes of 28th seed Lesia Tsurenko potential third round opponents, though 12th seed Jelena Ostapenko lurks in the fourth round.
The French Open champ has a nice first round draw against Lara Arruabarrena and should have enough to see off the likes of Sorana Cirstea and 19th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and make the second week.
Svitolina’s five titles this season are unmatched, and the Rogers Cup champion should be able to see off the potentially tricky Katerina Siniakova in her first match; 25th seed Daria Gavrilova, who starts against a qualifier, could provide a test in the third round. Another contender for the title here is Madison Keys, though she has a tricky opener against Elise Mertens.
17th seed Elena Vesnina, who has struggled since her triumph in Indian Wells, is a potential third round opponent for Keys, though would face a tricky second round match against Madison Brengle or Kirsten Flipkens.
Prediction: Svitolina def Ostapenko
Projected Q/F: (5th) Caroline Wozniacki vs (3rd) Garbine Muguruza
Despite having lost all six of her finals this season, Wozniacki is undoubtedly a contender for the title, and an opening round match against a qualifier is a good draw for the Dane. However, she faces a very tricky second round match against Citi Open champion Ekaterina Makarova, with 29th seed Mirjana-Lucic Baroni or Carla Suarez Navarro potential third round opponents.
The Dane has also never beaten projected fourth round opponent, ninth seed Venus Williams; the American, the runner-up at the Australian Open and in Wimbledon, starts against a qualifier, and with 24th seed Kiki Bertens the most dangerous opponent she’ll face on her way to the second week, she’ll fancy her chances.
After a horrible start to the season, Muguruza’s recent form has been outstanding and she is a huge contender here. After what should be a relatively straightforward opening match against Varvara Lepchenko, she may be tested by the likes of 31st seed Magdalena Rybarikova, Camila Giorgi, or Kristyna Pliskova; those matches will be a test of her mentality- she has never been the favorite at a Grand Slam before.
Meanwhile, 13th seed Petra Kvitova and Jelena Jankovic face off in an interesting first round clash, though with both struggling at the moment the likes of Alize Cornet and 18th seed Caroline Garcia will fancy their chances of reaching the second week.
Prediction: Muguruza def Williams
Projected Q/F: (7th) Johanna Konta vs (2nd) Simona Halep
There is only one place to go when looking at this section- that astonishing first round clash between Sharapova and Halep. The Russian is 6-0 against Halep and can outhit her, though the wild card is lacking match practice and the Romanian’s form since the start of the clay court season has been very solid.
There is certainly an opportunity for whoever wins that match, with the most dangerous opponents in that section, 2016 quarterfinalist and 16th seed Anastasija Sevastova and 22nd seed Peng Shuai (a former semifinalist in New York) only able to meet them in the second week.
Whilst it is seemingly a battle between Sharapova and Halep on one side of this quarter, Konta may find things a little more tricky, especially after a rather average build-up. This was the tournament where Konta broke through in 2015 and she seemingly plays well here and whilst she should beat Aleksandra Krunic in her first round match, a potential third round encounter against the resurgent Julia Gorges, the 30th seed, may prove tricky.
11th seed Dominika Cibulkova is also present here, though has struggled this season and, though she should see off fellow Slovak Jana Cepelova, may struggle in the second round against 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci or Sloane Stephens; they face off in a highly interesting first round clash. Another exciting clash sees young guns Ashleigh Barty and 21st seed Ana Konjuh face off.
Prediction: Konta def Halep
Pliskova def Svitolina
Konta def Muguruza
Pliskova def Konta
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