With a 60-4 W-L record in 2013, Serena Williams has had another astonishing year and she headlines this year’s US Open draw as the number one seed. Her summer hard court season has been impressive as she was victorious in Canada, but was pipped to the title in Cincy by Victoria Azarenka. This draw has a Toronto-esque feel to it as she opens her campaign against Francesca Schiavone and could then meet Magdalena Rybarikova in the third round. The in-form Rybarikova has not made it past the second round of a Grand Slam since 2009 and this could be her opportunity to do that in New York.
Jamie Hampton and Sloane Stephens are potential third round opponents, who could then meet Serena in the 4th round. Both would be excellent match-ups, but a Serena-Sloane match on Ashe at night would be absolutely fascinating. Sloane’s draw has it’s potential pitfalls; Urszula Radwanska is a potential second round opponent and she beat Stephens at Indian Wells this year, but I would still back Sloane to the last 16.
The other seeds in this section have all been struggling of late: Kaia Kanepi will take to the court for the first time since Wimby, Carla Suarez Navarro has been blowing hot and cold, and Kirsten Flipkens has looked extremely rusty. However weighing it all up, I think Flipkens will summon confidence from a stellar 2013 season to sneak into another deserved Grand Slam quarter-final.
I was sceptical of the amount of tournaments that Agnieszka Radwanska had committed too during the summer hard court season, but having pulled out of Cincy after winning her third round match, I think she will go in well rested and in pretty good form. She takes on Silvia Soler-Espinosa in the first round and the first seed she could meet is the extraordinarily unpredictable, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
It is possible that Aga could be in line for a 4th round, Wimbledon semi-final rematch with Sabine Lisicki. That is a big if as Sabine has only played three matches since the Wimby final and losses to Jelena Jankovic and Pavlyuchenkova have not invoked much confidence. Ekaterina Makarova is a more likely 4th round opponent, particularly having watched her play an excellent match in New Haven against Sara Errani.
The most intriguing first round match comes in this section and features Jelena Jankovic and Madison Keys. I was convinced after Wimby that this would be a breakout tournament for Madison, but shoulder injuries have inhibited her progress and despite her potential, I think JJ will come through that. The winner of that match will take on the young and tenacious, Monica Puig or the passionate fighter, Alisa Kleybanova… certainly a section of the draw to keep an eye on.
It is hard to believe that the third quarter will produce a semi-finalist at the US Open and Caroline Wozniacki will not have a better chance to make a substantial run at a Grand Slam. In her last two tournaments, Caro has played very well and her draw is extremely favourable with a qualifier up first, Ying-Ying Duan. The first seed she could meet is Klara Zakopalova, who reached the semi-finals of New Haven, but suffered a 6-0 6-1 confidence-crushing beatdown to Petra Kvitova and is a staggering 0-11 in US Open main draw matches. Roberta Vinci and Elena Vesnina are the other two seeds in this section and I see the latter progressing to the last 16.
Svetlana Kuznetsova is projected to meet Errani in the third round. Kuznetsova is a complete mystery; she will either bomb out first round, to Mallory Burdette in 3 ugly sets or go deep into this tournament. She has really struggled to get over an abdominal injury in her appearances since the French Open; however she has saved her best tennis for the Grand Slams this year and if the rumours are correct that she could retire this year, I think she will be hungry for success. Watch out for Simona Halep, who has a great draw and if she can fight off tiredness, should have the beating of Maria Kirilenko in the third round.
Once again, Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova are projected to meet in the quarter-finals, but I certainly am not predicting it as we are destined to go another year without witnessing this match-up. Kvitova’s summer hard court season has characterised her season with many three setters, some good performances, but some shockers too. A final appearance in New Haven has certainly ended it on a high giving some much needed confidence going into the US Open. Misaki Doi will not provide much opposition in round one, but Bojana Jovanovski or Andrea Petkovic will be much tougher in the second round. I originally went with Petko over Petra, but changed my mind after watching Kvitova in New Haven.
Kvitova is projected to meet Sam Stosur in the last 16, who has a gem of a draw. She could meet Daniela Hantuchova in the second round, who she holds a 6-1 head-to-head lead and potentially, Nadia Petrova in round three, who has not played since Wimbledon and not won a match since Rome in May.
Ana Ivanovic and Dominika Cibulkova will be the key contenders for Vika’s 4th round opponent. Ivanovic will want to get a solid win under her belt in round one against Anna Tatishvili having failed to put away Cornet in a horror Cincy encounter where she wasted multiple match points. Since winning Stanford and notching up a great win over Kerber in Canada, Cibulkova has sunk back into the form that typified the first half of her 2013 season. First up is a tricky match against now ranked number 44 in the world, Elina Svitolina, who won her first WTA title in Baku and then backed it up with another title in a $75k ITF tournament in Donetsk.
Please feel free to leave your predictions in the comments section 🙂
Full predictions for the womens draw can be found HERE