Sloane Stephens defends her championship and Serena Williams plays her first US Open since the birth of her first child among a number of storylines this year in Flushing Meadows.
“That I would be the favorite at this point, almost a year after having a baby, is quite interesting,” Serena told reporters on Saturday. “I don’t know my draw, but if I want to be the best, I’m going to have to start beating these people anyway.”
Since then she has probably seen her brutal draw that has sister Venus in the third round, with the winner facing world No. 1 Simona Halep.
“If anything, I have more fire in my belly,” Serena said. “It’s very hard to describe. It’s very difficult to describe. I thought after having a child I would be more relaxed. I think I’ve said this before, but I’m not. I work just as hard if not harder actually. I just feel like I take it just as serious if not more. That’s been really surprising for me.”
Here’s a look at the four quarters of the 2018 US Open women’s field:
TOP QUARTER (OF DEATH)
Top 4 Seeds: (1) Simona Halep, (8) Karolina Pliskova, (12) Garbine Muguruza, (16) Venus Williams
Floaters: (17) Serena Williams, Camila Giorgi, (WC) Svetlana Kuznetsova, Shuai Zhang
So there you go, quarter of death, right off the bat. The Top 4 seeds in the quarter are current or former No. 1s, with another former No. 1 in Serena and a former No. 2 in Kuznetsova…
Watch round 3, where you could see Serena vs. Venus, winner to face Halep…
Tough openers for (16) Venus vs. Kuzy and (12) Muguruza vs. Zhang who she lost to last year…
Nice draw for (8) Pliskova to find her footing and come into the quarters against Halep or a Williams sister.
Top 4 Seeds: (3) Sloane Stephens, (7) Elina Svitolina, (9) Julia Goerges, (15) Elise Mertens
Floaters: Victoria Azarenka, Donna Vekic, Aggie Radwanska
If the top quarter is the quarter of death, this is the quarter of “meh”…
(25) Daria Gavrilova looking at Azarenka 2nd round then (3) Stephens…
The defending champion (3) Stephens handed a cake walk until Azarenka who she is 2-3 career against…
(7) Svitolina could meet the out-of-form Radwanska 2nd round, and (19) Anastasija Sevastova starts against Donna Vekic, the closest you’re getting to openers of interest in this quarter. Look for the Stephens-Azarenka winner to move into the quarters against Svitolina.
Top 4 Seeds: (4) Angie Kerber, (6) Caroline Garcia, (10) Jelena Ostapenko, (14) Madison Keys
Floaters: (22) Maria Sharapova, (24) CoCo Vandeweghe, Johanna Konta, (Q) Patty Schnyder, Andrea Petkovic, Kirsten Flipkens, Alize Cornet
The Wimbledon champion Kerber is the top seed in the 3nd quarter, but looming in the second round is upset specialist Alize Cornet, who has won her last two against the German, including at the Rogers Cup in Montreal just weeks ago…
Openers of interest are (6) Garcia vs. Konta who allowed Serena Williams one game in a match this summer, (22) Sharapova vs. 39-year-old (Q) Schnyder who beat the Russian 13 years ago, the struggling (10) Ostapenko vs. the veteran Petkovic, and the coming-off-injury (24) Vandeweghe vs. the crafty Flipkens…
A (4) Kerber vs. (14) Keys in the 4th round would be a popcorn match. This quarter is up for grabs, especially if (6) Garcia goes out first round to Konta who she is 2-3 career against.
BOTTOM QUARTER (FLOATER QUARTER)
Top 4 Seeds: (2) Caroline Wozniacki, (5) Petra Kvitova, (11) Daria Kasatkina, (13) Kiki Bertens
Floaters: (26) Aryna Sabalenka, (20) Naomi Osaka, Yanina Wickmayer, Laura Siegemund, Belina Bencic, Timea Babos, (Q) Vera Zvonareva, (Q) Genie Bouchard, Sam Stosur
Perhaps the most entertaining quarter, besides the top “quarter of death,” features “celebrity” qualifiers, three Grand Slam winners and perhaps the hottest hardcourt player this summer…
Qualifiers landing in the quarter include former world No. 2 and US Open finalist Vera Zvonareva back after the birth of her child, and former Top 5er Genie Bouchard…
Tough openers include (5) Kvitova vs. Wickmayer who she is 5-4 career against, the struggling (20) Osaka vs. the back-from-injury Siegemund, (11) Kasatkina vs. Babos (winner to meet Bencic), and (2) Wozniacki vs. the former US Open winner Stosur…
With Cincinnati winner Kiki Bertens in the mix and tough starts for the high seeds, this quarter could also go in any direction.
Wild cards were given to Americans Amanda Anisimova, Claire Liu, Asia Muhammad, and Whitney Osuigwe, along with Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka, Australia’s Lizette Cabrera, Russia’s Svetlana Kuznetsova and France’s Harmony Tan.
Pulling out of the tournament were American Catherine Bellis, Croatia’s Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, China’s Peng Shuai and Russia’s Elena Vesnina.
Former champions in the field are Stephens (2017), Kerber (2016), six-time champion Serena Williams (2014-12,’08,’02,’99), Stosur (2011), Sharapova (2006), Kuznetsova (2004) and Venus Williams (2001-00).
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