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By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, August 26, 2021

 
Barty

Ash Barty and Naomi Osaka are the top two favorites to win the US Open. We break down the US Open draw, spotlighting spoilers and top openers to watch.

Photo credit: Pete Staples/US Open

The US Open welcome full capacity crowds to opening day on Monday.

The US Open draw presents congested and challenging roads for leading contenders.

We take a deep dive into the 2021 US Open women's draw with our Top 10 Takeaways here.

Barty’s View From Top

World No. 1 Ash Barty bids for her first US Open quarterfinal and should find a challenging but manageable draw.

The top-seeded Barty faces former finalist Vera Zvonareva in a match of former US Open doubles champions. Barty’s potential path to the quarterfinals could include:

2R: Talented Dane Clara Tauson
3R: (29) Veronika Kudermetova
4R (13) Jennifer Brady or (22) Karolina Muchova
QF (7) Iga Swiatek

Barty has won 12 of her last 13 matches wrapping Wimbledon and Cincinnati titles around her opening-round Olympics loss to Sara Sorribes Tormo. The two-time Grand Slam champion played dynamic tennis in Cincinnati and should thrive on the US Open’s hard courts.

The question is can Barty’s backhand pass hold up should she face an opponent who can pressure that wing as two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karolina Muchova showed in a 1-6, 6-3, 6-2 win over Barty in the Australian Open quarterfinals.

Oska’s Odds of Defending

Since capturing her fourth Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in February, Naomi Osaka has posted a 7-5 record and confronted challenges off court.

The four-time Grand Slam champion withdrew from Roland Garros following her opening-round win, revealing she’s battled depression and anxiety.

Osaka is aiming to defend a Grand Slam title for the first time and will be challenged by both lack of match play and a potential testa. Osaka opens vs. Marie Bouzkova and if the seeds hold true to form the defending champion will face either 2016 champion Angelique Kerber or 21st-seeded Coco Gauff, who owns an Australian Open win over the Japanese and pushed her to three sets in Cincinnati.




Here’s Osaka’s potential path to a third US Open final:

1R: Marie Bouzkova
2R: Alycia Parks or Qualifier
3R: (31) Yulia Putintseva
4R: (16) Angelique Kerber or (21) Coco Gauff
QF: (5) Elina Svitolina
SF: (2) Aryna Sabalenka

Certainly, Osaka will face questions, but if she can find her form and confidence, her explosive game can dominate the hard court. Osaka, who spent time growing up on Long Island and attended the US Open as a fan, seems to feel comfortable in New York.

“Osaka obviously has been having some struggles that she's come forward with. It's a little unpredictable. But she's going back to a place where she's won it twice,” ESPN analyst Pam Shriver said. “Usually when you have those kind of special memories, you can play some pretty good tennis.

“I expect her to play well. But I do have more questions going into this US Open than I would have had the last few months been smoother for Naomi. “

Fourth Quarter Offers Opportunity

The bottom quarter offers open opportunity for both former major champions and contenders poised for big break throughs.

No. 2-seeded Aryna Sabalenka, the top seed in this section, is coming off a career-best Wimbledon semifinal. Sabalenka and Elise Mertens partnered to win the 2019 US Open doubles title, but singles success has been harder to come by for the powerful Belarusian, who has managed just two wins in her last two trips to New York.


This section features reigning Roland Garros champion Barbora Krejcikova, who has been the most consistent player in this quarter, as well as Grand Slam champions Victoria Azarenka and Garbine Muguruza and two-time US Open quarterfinalist Mertens and talented seeds Ons Jabeur and Ekaterina Alexandrova.

First-Rounders to Watch

(12) Simona Halep vs. Camila Giorgi

Madison Keys vs. Sloane Stephens



Carla Suarez Navarro vs. Danielle Collins

(29) Veronika Kudermetova vs. Sorana Cirstea


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by US Open (@usopen)



Projected US Open Quarterfinals



Maiden Major Champion in New York?

Nine of the last 16 women to win Grand Slam titles were maiden major champions, including Barbora Krejcikova, who swept singles and doubles crowns at Roland Garros.

Four of the last six ladies to lift the US Open trophy—Flavia Pennetta, Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka and Bianca Andreescu—won their first Slams in New York.

American Champions MIA

Venus Williams and Serena Williams both withdrew yesterday—41-year-old Venus is battling a leg injury and six-time US Open champion Serena has not played since tearing her hamstring at Wimbledon—marking the first time since 2003 neither Williams sister will play the Flushing Meadows major.

Sofia Kenin, the 2020 Australian Open champion, also withdrew yesterday.

3 Sleepers To Watch

We’re defining sleepers as players outside the Top 10 seeds:

(11) Belinda Bencic (SUI)—The Olympic gold-medal champion posted a combined 10-1 record in singles and doubles a the Tokyo Olympics. Bencic, who opens vs. Arantxa Rus, is in a tough top quarter along with world No. 1 Ash Barty and 2020 Roland Garros champion Iga Swiatek, but has thrived in New York in the past. Bencic’s skill taking the ball on the rise and her flat strikes play well in Flushing Meadows where she was a semifinalist in 2019 and a quarterfinalist in her 2014 debut.

(16) Angelique Kerber (GER)—The 2016 US Open champion has won 14 of her last 16 matches, including her 13th career title in Bad Homburg she backed up with successive semifinals at Wimbledon and Cincinnati. Though the left-hander’s second serve still looks attackable, she’s backed her serve strongly and owns the compact strokes and down the line drives that play well in New York. Kerber could face 21st-seeded Coco Gauff in a round three Wimbledon rematch with the winner facing reigning US Open champion Naomi Osaka if seeds hold true to form.

(26) Danielle Collins (USA)—A feisty competitor who can crack her two-handed backhand with precision, Collins is coming off back-to-back titles in Palermo in San Jose. The two-time NCAA singles champion opens against Carla Suarez Navarro and could face second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the third round. Sabalenka staved off Collins 6-0, 4-6, 6-4 in the 2018 US Open first round.


Oddsmakers Favoritess

Oddschecker lists world No. 1 Ash Barty as a solid 4/1 favorite followed by:

Naomi Osaka 31/5

Aryna Sabalenka 27/2

Iga Swiatek 35/2



 

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