When pundits say anything can happen at this year’s US Open, they’re not kidding.
Serena Williams’ pregnancy has left the title up for grabs. Last year’s finalist, Karolina Pliskova, is the No. 1 seed but a handful of players are nipping at her heels for the No. 1 ranking.
Angie Kerber, last year’s US Open winner and No. 1-ranked player, has been in a funk all year and could drop out of the Top 10 after the US Open.
Maria Sharapova received a wildcard after coming back from a doping suspension earlier this year, to the dismay of many fans who through the US Open should follow the French Open’s lead and deny her a wildcard.
Here’s some more storylines and a look at the four quarters of the draw:
Top 4 Seeds: (1) Karolina Pliskova, (8) Svetlana Kuznetsova, (10) Aggie Radwanska, (14) Kristina Mladenovic
Floaters: Alison Riske, (20) CoCo Vandeweghe, (26) Anett Kontaveit, Lucie Safarova
Notes: Pliskova heads the field at the US Open for the first time, but with a handful of players within arms reach of her No. 1 ranking…Tough starts for (20) Vandeweghe against fellow American Riske, and (26) Kontaveit vs. Safarova…Possible 4th rd. meetings include (1) Pliskova vs. (14) Mladenovic and (10) Radwanska or (20) Vandeweghe vs. (8) Kuzy…Local eyes will be on wildcards Brienne Minor, the NCAA champion from the University of Michigan, and former junior world No. 1 who refuses to get fit, Taylor Townsend…Pretty easy start for (1) Pliskova through the first few rounds.
Top 4 Seeds: (4) Elina Svitolina, (6) Angie Kerber, (12) Jelena Ostapenko, (15) Madison Keys
Floaters: Genie Bouchard, Daria Kasatkina, Christina McHale, Yanina Wickmayer, Naomi Osaka
Notes: Can you remember a year ago when Kerber was No. 1? Seems like an eon ago. The No. 6 seed could be one-and-done this year at the hands of the rising Japanese star Osaka in the first round…Kerber is defending 2,000 points and could drop out of the Top 10…Other tough starts are (4) Svitolina vs. Bouchard if the Canadian shows up 2nd rd., (19) Pavlyuchenkova vs. the homecountry favorite McHale, and (28) Tsurenko vs. Wickmayer if the Belgian can remember when she was one of the “next” stars…A good draw for (15) Keys who seems to be back from wrist issues…(12) Ostapenko has been a bust since winning the French Open and lost 1st rd. at Toronto and Cincinnati…(4) Svitolina could take No. 1 at the US Open, and is looking at a blockbuster 4th rd. match with (15) Keys.
Top 4 Seeds: (3) Garbine Muguruza, (5) Caroline Wozniacki, (9) Venus Williams, (13) Petra Kvitova
Floaters: Ekaterina Makarova, Monica Puig, Jelena Jankovic, Camila Giorgi
Notes: This is the toughest quarter of the draw featuring Top 4 seeds that are all Grand Slam winners or former No. 1s, along with an unseeded former No. 1 and an Olympic gold medal winner…Tough starts for (5) Wozniacki vs. a qualifier then the powerful Makarova, (29) Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Puig, (13) Kvitova vs. Jankovic, and (31) Magdalena Rybarikova vs. the tenacious Giorgi…Good draws for both Muguruza and Williams who could meet in the quarters…Muguruza is flying high now but she might not like the New York atmosphere — she is 2-4 career at the US Open.
Top 4 Seeds: (2) Simona Halep, (7) Johanna Konta, (11) Dominika Cibulkova, (16) Anastasija Sevastova
Floaters: Annika Beck, Ashleigh Barty, Sloane Stephens, Maria Sharapova
Notes: Let’s see, not too exciting, hmmmm…did we mention MARIA SHARAPOVA FACES (2) SIMONA HALEP FIRST ROUND? Halep is 0-6 career against Masha…Other upset alerts include (30) Julia Goerges vs. Beck, and (21) Ana Konjuh vs. Barty…The unseeded American Stephens with a good draw to go deep…The Halep-Sharapova winner should ride an easy draw to the quarters where they will meet (7) Konta.
Players withdrawing were former No. 1 Serena Williams, Timea Bacsinszky, former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, Sara Errani, Anna-Lena Friedsam, Kristina Kucova, last year’s doubles winner Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Mandy Minella, Yaroslava Shvedova, Laura Siegemund, and Samantha Stosur.
Wildcards went to Sharapova, France’s Amandine Hesse, Australia’s Arina Rodionova and Americans Kayla Day, Sofia Kenin, Ashley Kratzer, Brienne Minor and Taylor Townsend.
Kerber beat Pliskova 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 in last year’s final.
Serena Williams and Chris Evert are tied with the most US Open titles at six. Evert won four in a row (1975-78), the most consecutive.
Former champions in the field are Kerber (2016), Sharapova (2006), Kuznetsova (2004), and Venus Williams (2001-00).
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