US Open Women’s Preview: Is Serena Too Old To Win? Can Kerber Claim No. 1?
by Sean Randall | August 28th, 2016, 6:06 pm
  • 6 Comments

Serena Williams embarks on her quest for a 7th US Open title Tuesday night. But there are questions for the best female tennis player on the planet. She’s got a shoulder issue, she’s 34 going on 35 and she’s on the edge of losing her No. 1 ranking to the on-coming Angelique Kerber. Yet, Serena is still the clear favorite having won the US Open three of the last four years and with few true contenders out there, why won’t she win another?

On to the draw…

Serena Williams Quarter
Serena’s road won’t be easy. She’s in the toughest quarter in the better half. And right off the bat she’s pitted against former US Open semifinalist Ekatarina Makarova who beat Serena at a hard court Grand Slam at the 2012 Australian Open. There’s Sam Stosur who beat Serena in the US Open final in 2012 and in the quarters she could run into Simona Halep who’s having herself a great summer. Young Russian Daria Kasatkina and Wimbledon semifinalist Elena Vesnina are in the mix, but it will likely come down to that Serena-Halep quarter and I think Serena’s not going to lose on her home turf. And poor Halep, if only she landed in any other quarter.
The Pick: Serena Williams

Agnieszka Radwanska Quarter
Agnieszka Radwanska just won New Haven, but her struggles in the US Open put me off making her the favorite. Instead, I’ll go with former champion Venus Williams who played well at Wimbledon reaching the semifinals and I like her draw. There’s the Laura Siegemund in the third round, maybe the unproven in Slams Karolina Pliskova in the fourth and then Radwanska, if she gets that far, in the quarters. If the weather gets hot and rain comes into play forcing scheduling issues (neither is forecasted), that will hurt Venus. But the crown, atmosphere and her experience are the difference.
The Pick: Venus Williams

Garbine Muguruza Quarter
The Spaniard Muguruza won her first Slam at the French but she’s fizzled since. And I don’t expect much from her this week which is too bad because it’s an open part of the draw. Madison Keys is probably the favorite but the American often underwhelms. Johanna Konta has come on strong the last year and she’s continued to play well after her Australian Open semifinal run. So I think this quarter gets decided by the Keys-Konta quarterfinal. It’s a tight call but I think Keys edges through.
The Pick: Madison Keys

Angelique Kerber Quarter
The German Kerber is in arguably the softest section of the draw. There’s 2015 finalist Roberta Vinci, Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova and French Open finalist Sara Errani plus 2-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, but other than Vinci only Kerber has any decent US Open history. And I like Kerber’s post Wimbledon effort in Rio and at Cincinnati.
The Pick: Angelique Kerber

Semifinals
Serena d Venus: Serena gets best of older sister in what could be their last sister showdown at the US Open.
Kerber d Keys: Kerber too sly for the error-prone Keys.

Finals
Serena d Kerber: Kerber can’t stop Serena moving ahead of Steffi in Grand Slams and in consecutive weeks at No. 1.

The whole women’s draw depends on the health of Serena’s shoulder. That’s it. If Serena’s OK I think she’ll win. It’s her tournament, her surface and her crowd and against a thin field of competition that should be enough.

If the shoulder isn’t good – and who knows, it may not be – then look for a Kerber or a Halep to take advantage. Or what would be really interesting is if Serena were to lose early (like Rio), putting the thought of possibly winning the title in the minds of these players early. That will create some chaos and we could get a result like we saw in Rio when Monica Puig came out of nowhere to win.

A few other players who could make a run are Eugenie Bouchard, Daria Gavrilova, Pliskova and maybe Puig. Pliskova has the game and it’s a good surface for her, but mentally playing in Slams seems to be a hurdle. But we’ve so many surprises in Slams the last year, we might see another in two weeks?


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6 Comments for US Open Women’s Preview: Is Serena Too Old To Win? Can Kerber Claim No. 1?

Claroscuro Says:

Tha’s cold. No mention of Puig as a contender in your “Quarter” comments. She’s slated to face Muguruza in the 3rd round. I’ll be eagerly watching to see if you fall flat on your face by failing to mention her in the Quarters. She’s no fluke baby!


funches Says:

A lot of people are picking Venus to make the semifinals, and they’re all falling into the trap of thinking her best performance–this year at Wimbledon, which is on by far her best surface–is indicative of her play rather than just about every other event she has entered for the past three years. She’s not a legitimate contender because she can lose to almost anyone and has not proven she can beat any good player who’s in good form.

It’s not impossible for Venus to make the semis, but she’s a long shot at best.


Willow Says:

IMO Serena Will be very dangerous here, shes equalled Steffi which will make her more relaxed, its only a matter of time before she gets her 23 GS, then she will target Margret Courts 24, shes a step slower now i think, but i dont think theres a player that can put up a really meaty challenge, shes still the player to beat ….


Margot Says:

OMG I can just see that kind of headline referencing Fed…..not.


Tennis Vagabond Says:

Margot, we Fed fans WISH he were still in contention as much as Serena. From my recollections, these WERE the discussions about Fed a few years ago, but now he doesn’t rate them as a most-likely-contender.

I have to agree with funches about venus. She has had very few big runs since her illness, and I think she’;s had hers for 2016. Still, her match against Serena last year was epic, so it would certainly be dramatic should they meet again.


Margot Says:

@ TV
The headline seemed disrespectful to me, especially as Serena still seems capable of further slams.

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