U.S Open draw was unveiled yesterday. Serena Williams, the top seed and the defending champion, has Agnieszka Radwanska and Li Na drawn in her half. The good thing for Serena is she will have to face one of them, not that it matters to Serena, since both Radwanska and Li have a combined total of 1 win against SerenaWilliams.
Second seed and last year’s finalist Victoria Azarenka has Sara Errani and Petra Kvitova drawn in her half of the draw. In fact, Kvitova is in Azarenka’s quarter. The two have not played since their epic clash in the final of World Tour Finals in 2011, which Kvitova won in 3 sets. Their careers have taken opposite paths since that clash. Azarenka has won 2 majors and made a final since then, whereas Kvitova has failed to make a grand slam final since then.
Let us now break-down each quarter:
For full first quarter of draw, please click here.
Serena Williams is the favourite to make the quarter-final, however, she has a tough opener in the former Roland Garros Champion and former U.S Open quarter-finalist Franchesca Schiavone. Players are prone in their openers, especially the top players. However, given Serena’s form, she should not be troubled.
The spicy thing in this quarter is the potential 4th round meeting between Serena Williams and Sloane Stephens. Sloane Stephens defeated Serena Williams in the quarter-finals of Australian Open this year in 3 sets.
Angelique Kerber is at the bottom of the quarter and has been in a slump. She went 4-3 in the U.S Open series and given her draw I don’t see her making the quarter-final unless she steps it up.
Youngsters under the radar:
- Eugenie Bouchard – She has a potential second round encounter with Kerber
- Lauren Davis – She plays Carla Saurez Navaro in her opener
- Urszula Radwanska – She plays Irina Camelia Begu in her opener, with a potential second round encounter against Sloane Stephens
Americans in the quarter:
- Serena Williams – She has lost only 4 matches this year. However, important to note is that two of those losses were at majors and the other two losses were at the hands of the player she can only face in the final, - Victoria Azarenka. Serena’s conqueror at Australian Open, Sloane Stephens is in for a potential 4th round encounter with the defending champion.
- Jamie Hampton – She pushed Azarenka to three sets in the Australian Open. If she is not feeling the back pain and swinging freely, she can upset anyone on a given day. She has potential 3rd round encounter with Sloane Stepehens.
- Sloane Stephens – She has a good draw and should be favoured to make the 3rd round at the very least. She has been performing well at majors this year and should be motivated enough to making a noise at her home grand slam.
- Venus Williams – The two time former U.S Open champion (2000-01) plays Kristen Flipkens in her opener and is well motivated to go deep in the draw. The biggest question will be if her body holds up and cooperates with her or not.
- Lauren Davis – She plays Spanish crafty player Navaro in the first round
- Vania King – The diminutive American is former doubles U.S Open winner and plays Kanepi in the first round.
Serena d. Kanepi (I would have picked Kerber, but she is in a slump, Kanpei is a very brave pick, but its just a draw analysis, so....)
For full second quarter of the draw, please click here.
Agnieszka Radwanska is the top seed in this quarter and opens against Silvia Soler-Espinosa. The first seeded player she could play is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in what could be a tough potential third round for her. Radwanska is the only player to make the quarter-final or better at all the grand slams of the year so far. However, she has never progressed beyond the 4th round of U.S Open. Will this be the year?
Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Liscki is also in this part of the draw and has a potential 4th round encounter against former Wimbledon runner-up, Radwanska. Radwanska will be keen on taking revenge of her loss at the hands of Liscki in the semi-finals of Wimbledon this year, should the two meet in the 4th round.
Li Na, this year’s Australian Open runner-up is sitting at the bottom of the quarter and opens against Olga Govortsova. An interesting potential 3rd round clash awaits Li in the form of Laura Robson. Robson made noise last year when she sent Kim Clijsters into retirement in the second round of U.S Open and then defeated Li Na in the 3rd round to make the second week of a slam for the first time.
Youngsters under the radar:
- Ashleigh Barty – She plays Estrella Cabeza Candela in the first round which is winnable for the youngster. A second round potential meeting with Pavlyuchenkova awaits.
- Monia Puig – She made the 4th round at Roland Garros and the 4th round at Wimbledon this year. She makes her U.S Open debut against the comeback player, Alisa Kleybanova,
- Laura Robson – The British player has been making some noise at the grand slams lately. It will be interesting to see what she has in store for this year’s U.S Open.
Americans in this quarter:
- Bethanie Mattek-Sands : She opens against Mathilde Johansson and has a potential second round encounter against Ekaterina Makarova. She should make the 3rd round.
- Madison Keys – She has a powerful game and she has the potential to beat anyone on a given day. She plays former no. 1 and former U.S Open finalist Jelena Jankovic in the first round.
- Shelby Rogers – She opens against talented French youngster Caroline Garcia.
- Kimiko Date-Krumm – She is the oldest player in the draw and opens against Paula Ormaechea in what should be a winnable match for the veteran Kimiko.
- Sorana Cristea – Remember Cistea? She made the final of Toronto beating 3 top 10 players and a former world no. 1 starting with Caroline Wozniacki, Jelena Jankovic, Petra Kvitova and Li Na. She has a potential 3rd round encounter with Jankovic and a potential 4th round clash against Li Na.
- Jelena Jankovic – The former world no.1 made the semi-finals of Cincinati falling at the hands of eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in three hard fought sets.
Li Na d. Agnieszka Radwanska (The pick is too predictable and given the unpredictable Li, you never know, but I can't help it, I have to give nod to Li)
For full third quarter, please click here.
This is by far the most open quarter of the draw with Sara Errani sitting at the bottom of the draw as the no. 4 seed and Caroline Wozniacki sitting at the top as the no.6 seed. Wozniacki is finally rounding into form in New Heaven. She is playing semi-finals today. Caroline Wozniacki is one of the two players in the top 8 seeds who is yet to make a grand slam quarter-final this year, the other player being Angelique Kerber. Wozniacki opens against a qualifier.
Sara Errani made the semi-finals last year before bowing out to eventual champion Serena Williams. She opens against Ayumi Mortia in what could be a tricky opener for her. A potential second round meeting with country woman Flavia Pennetta aso sounds scary for the Italian. As if this was not enough, a potential third round encounter against former U.S Open champion, Svetlana Kuznetsova could also be in store.
Yes, Kuznetsova, anyone remember Kuznetsova? There is a big question mark over Kuznetsova. She has gone 2-3 since her quarter-final run in Roland Garros. However, the good news for Kuznetsova fans is that she has performed well at majors this year making the quarter-finals of both majors she has played and losing to the eventual champion at each (Azarenka at Australian Open and Serena at Roland Garros). If Kuznetsova steps it up this could be the ideal draw for her to make the semi-finals, but if she does not, she might be going home in the first round.
Youngsters under radar:
Annika Beck – She opens against Russian Elena Vesnina.
Dona Vekic – She opens against Mariana Duque Marino, in what should be a winnable match for the teenager.
Heather Watson – She has a tough first round assignment in the form of red hot Simona Halep.
Americans in this quarter:
There are 6 Americans in the first quarter, 3 Americans in the second quarter and only two in the third quarter.
-Malloy Burdette. She opens against Svetlana Kuznetsova in what could be a good or a bad thing for her depending on which Kuznetsova shows up.
- Nicole Gibbs – The teenager opens against former top 10 player Flavia Pennetta.
Svetlana Kuznetsova d. Caroline Wozniacki (Again wishful thinking and brave picks. You have to get used to it. You can replace them with Saran Errani and Roberta Vinci, if you like)
For full fourth quarter, please click here.
Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova round off the fourth quarter of the draw. Kvitova opens against Misaki Doi and has tricky potential second and third round encounters with Andrea Petkovic and Mona Barthel respectively.
Azarenka opens against Dinah Pfizenmaier and has a potential third round encounter against Alize Cornet, the woman who pushed her to three sets in Roland Garros. Azarenka comes on the heels of her win over Serena Williams in the final of Cincinnati. Williams has lost only 4 matches this year, with two of them coming at the hands of Azarenka. Azarenka has won one slam this season and must be motivated to make a statement and win another.
Youngsters under the radar:
- Ana Tatishvili: She made the 4th round here last year, but has been unable to win matches this year. She opens against Ana Ivanovic.
- Elina Svitolina - She opens against Dominika Cibulkova and will attempt to win her first match at U.S Open in her second attempt.
Americans in this quarter:
- Alison Riske - She opens against grass lover Tsetana Pironkova.
- Sachia Vickery – She opens against a qualifier
- Maria Sanchez – She opens against former world no.4 Daniela Hantuchova.
- Varvara Lepchenko – She opens against Alexendra Dulgheru, and has a potential second round meeting with Ana Ivanovic.
- Christina McHale – She has a winnable first round match against slumping Julia Goerges and a tricky second round against the hard hitting diminutive Dominka Cibulkova.
- 2011 champion, Samantha Stosur, opens against a qualifier. She has a potential 4th round meeting with Petra Kvitova. An interesting fact to note is that Stosur has not lost before the quarter-finals of U.S Open for the last 3 years.
- Ana Ivanovic – The former world no.1 and former Roland Garros champion has a potential 4th round encounter with Azarenka. She made the quarter-finals here last year in what was her first grand slam quarter-final since her grand slam triumph at Roland Garros in 2008.
Stosur d. Azarenka (I know Stosur has not had success against Kvitova, whom she is seeded to meet in the 4th round, and Azarenka but U.S Open brings out the best in her as we have been seeing in her last 3 appearances here. That said, this again is a very bold and brave pick. What fun would it be guessing Azarenka to make it all the way to the final)
Li d. Serena
Stosur d. Kuznetsova/Errani
Stosur d. Li (You can replace Serena with Li and Azarenka with Stosur, and reverse the result)
What are your thoughts after the draw?