2017 US Open: Women's Draw Preview

Tennis Player Holds Racket

Our tennis writer takes a look at the Women's draw for the 2017 US Open which finishes on Saturday 9 September. 

If the men’s draw seems wildly open due to injury, then the women’s draw is a veritable lottery. The absence of Serena Williams for the last six months has created a vacuum in women’s tennis that has resulted in an outrageous bunfight for that World Number 1 ranking.

At the mercy of some mind-bending permutations, there are eight women who can possibly end the fortnight top of the pile. Defending champion Angelique Kerber is not one of them. The German has endured something of a horror-show campaign and will be hoping to resurrect some of the positive juju that she engendered last year. Current world number 1, Plisikova, has admirably fended off the attentions of Simona Halep in their battle for number 1 position thus far, while convicted drug cheat Maria Sharapova brings some razzmatazz with a wildcard entry. The destiny of this trophy is utterly anyone’s guess.

2017 US Open | Women’s Draw | Monday 28 August - Saturday 9 September | Flushing Meadows, New York City

Past Winners
2016: Angelique Kerber
2015: Flavia Pennetta
2014: Serena Williams
2013: Serena Williams 
2012: Serena Williams

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That Number 1 Battle
While the last few months have seen a perpetual battle for that number 1 spot between Plisikova and Halep, there are a staggering eight players vying for top spot this week. The likes of Kuznetsova and Konta will require some convoluted ramifications to ensure the number 1 spot, while former World number 1 Caroline Wozniacki will be hoping to finally pick up the victory that has so far eluded her in her season of metronomic consistency. But it looks as if the Number 1 spot’s most likely owner come the end of the fortnight will come from the world’s top 3 players.

Favorites - Karolina Plisikova, Simona Halep and Garbine Murguruza
Current World Number 1 Karolina Plisikova is the favourite this week, and why wouldn’t she be? Her major breakthrough came when she reached the final in New York last year. She was a break up against Kerber in the final set before capitulating.

But last year’s Cincinnati champion would have learnt from that and has enjoyed a remarkably consistent year on the hard courts. She will also take solace from the fact that Halep has failed on all occasions to usurp the number 1 spot. You have to fancy her in the first quarter, with veteran Kuznetsova the highest ranked player other than her. She should have the beating of Mladenovic should they meet in the 4th round.

Simona Halep has been remarkably consistent throughout the campaign, but every time that the Romanian has been within touching distance of the finish line, she has fallen short. She has even publicly stated that the agonizing defeats to Ostenpenko at the French and Konta at Wimbledon have had far-reaching psychological effects on her.

That’s generally not the sort of admission that reeks of confidence. Halep will no doubt go deep this week, but I do doubt her ability to negotiate the consecutive hurdles needed to be a Grand Slam champion this week. She also has the unenviable task of playing Maria Sharapova in the first round.

My pick this week is two-time Grand Slam champion Garbine Murguruza. It just seems as if the Spaniard is the one equipped with the most natural big match steel, having beaten Serena en route to her maiden Grand Slam title at Roland Garros last season.

Her victory at Wimbledon indicates to me that she is likely to get past the round of 64 for the first time at Flushing Meadows. She lost last year to Sevastova in the second round, but her recent victory in Cincinnati, complete with a comprehensive victory over Simona Halep in the final, makes her my pre-tournament favourite.

Likely Contenders - Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber
Wozniacki’s season has been one for the ages. She has reached more finals than anyone else on tour-six- but has yet to taste success. These have included excellent runs in both Toronto and Doha. The former US Open runner-up would love to alter that sequence of events at a tournament that certainly suits her baselining stylistics. She is a three-time semi-finalist here and her experience and penchant for the hustle and bustle of New York should stand her in good stead this week.

Angelique Kerber looked like a natural successor to the hole vacated by Serena Williams, but the glamorous German has hit a huge dip in form this year. The predictability of that cross-court backhand has become something that player’s prey upon, and she has been working with a revamped coaching staff in an effort to reclaim her title. She has a favourable draw, however, with Svitolina her possible quarter-final opponent should she negotiate the likes of Tsurenko and Ostapenko. There are many qualifiers and unheralded players in her draw and I suspect she could make a resounding comeback.

Long Shots - Sloane Stephens and Coco Vandeweghe
Coco Vandeweghe has been typically erratic in the last few weeks, but she still has the power and potential to go far here. She has a penchant for the limelight and will thrive in the cauldron that is Flushing Meadows. She is in Kuznetsova’s side of the draw and could be a contender to meet Plisikova in the quarter-finals. She managed to reach the final in Stanford before being ousted by Madison Keys. She also had an excellent run at Wimbledon, making it all the way to the quarter-finals, showing her aptitude for the big stage. But it was her semi-final appearance in Australia that excites me, where she narrowly lost to Venus Williams in a three-set thriller. She beat Kerber, Bouchard and Muguruza en route.

Sloane Stephens has made an encouraging return following a long absence with a foot injury, culminating in consecutive semi-final defeats to Wozniacki and Halep at Toronto and Cincinnati respectively. Her quarter also looks open, with Halep having to play Sharapova in her first match.Johanna Konta hasn’t looked sensational post-Wimbledon either. She would also be scheduled to play Cibulkova in her second round match, who just came off a heartbreaking defeat to Gavrilova in the Connecticut final.

Likely Progression

Ist Quarter: Plsikova and Vandeweghe.

2nd Quarter: Svitolina and Kerber.

3rd Quarter: Wozniacki and Murguruza.

4th Quarter: Stephens and Halep.

Decent First Round Bets

Alize Cornet to beat Heather Watson at 6/10.
Cornet has been in decent form while Britain’s Watson has really gone nowhere in the last few years.

Maria Sharapova to beat Simona Halep at 17/10
While I still feel that Halep may come out on top here, Sharapova looks a fairly decent price considering Halep sits on 4/10.

Evgeniya Rodina to beat Eugenie Bouchard at 43/20
Another bit of fanciful speculation here, but I can’t remember the last time I saw Bouchard win a match and 43/20 looks inviting.

Written by Damien Kayat for @Hollywoodbets.net

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