The last seven Grand Slams on the women’s side have been won by different players. Will that streak continue at the 2018 US Open?
It has been tough to predict a Grand Slam winner on the women’s side this year. Three different women have won a major title and there has not been a repeat winner since Angelique Kerber won the 2016 US Open. Four of the past seven champions have also been first-time major winners. The question is whether or not that trend will continue in a wide-open field once again.
When you talk about women’s tennis, Serena Williams is the first name that comes to everyone’s mind. Serena is the 17 seed, which is the highest seed she has had in any Slam since returning to the game from maternity leave.
It has not been a great hard court season for Serena heading into New York. The six-time US Open winner only played three matches and went 1-2, including a loss to Petra Kvitova in the second round at Cincinnati in three sets. Despite not playing a top-eight seed until potentially the Round of 16, it is a tough draw for her to say the least.
For one, the fans in Queens could potentially see a Serena-Venus third round match if Venus can get past Svetlana Kuznetsova in the first round on Monday. It would be the earliest the two sisters have played each other since the second round of the 1998 Australian Open (won by Venus).
Venus is 5-5 against Kuznetsova with the last meeting won by Williams in Miami at 2017. Another possible third-round opponent for Serena is Camila Giorgi. The Italian is 26th in the world and did make the quarterfinals at Wimbledon before losing to Serena.
The top seed is Romanian Simona Halep, who finally won her first Slam at the French Open back in May. Halep made it to the semifinals at the US Open in 2015, but she also lost in the first round last year.
While Halep did lose in the final at Cincinnati to Kiki Bertens, she did beat Sloane Stephens in the final in Montreal, so she comes into this tournament with a lot of momentum and a clear path into the Round of 16. She is on her game at the right time.
Speaking of Stephens, it is easy to forget that the number three seed is the defending champion. She got to the final in Montreal and the final at the French Open. However, she has lost in the first round in the other two majors.
Nevertheless, the 25-year-old can use the experience from last year to help her in a favorable draw. Her projected third-round opponent is Victoria Azarenka and she could face (7) Elena Svitolina in the quarterfinals.
Another American to watch in this tournament is the 14 seed, Madison Keys. Keys lost to Stephens in the final last year. She got a big win over the (4) seed in this tournament, Kerber, in Cincinnati in the Round of 16. But, she did lose in the following match.
Plus, the draw for Keys is tough. She could play (24) CoCo Vandeweghe in the third round, (10) Jelena Ostapenko in the quarterfinals, and (5) Petra Kvitova in the semifinals. With that being said, she has made at least the Round of 16 in each of the last three years.
Speaking of Kerber, she is the Wimbledon champion and the 2016 US Open champion. She has made it to the quarterfinals or better in majors this year and she is 7-2 against Keys despite that loss in Cincy.
One sleeper in this draw is Bertens, who is the 13 seed. Bertens won the title in Cincinnati and she could play (2) Caroline Wozniacki in the Round of 16. Bertens defeated Wozniacki in straight sets in the second round in Cincy and is 2-1 against her this year. Plus, Wozniacki has lost three of the last four matches she played overall.
Another sleeper in the draw is (20) Naomi Osaka. Osaka has a power game and could play Kvitova in the Round of 16. Kvitova did beat Serena in Cincinnati, but she hasn’t made it past the third round in the other Slams.
A first-round matchup to keep an eye on is the one between (6) Caroline Garcia and Johanna Konta. Garcia has been a top-five player, but she has never made it past the third round in New York. Konta is unseeded, but was number four at one point last year and did beat Ostapenko in Montreal. She withdrew from her last tournament in New Haven due to a viral illness (Bertens also withdrew), but she is a dangerous unseeded player.
Here are my predictions for who will win the US Open, starting with the Round of 16:
Round of 16
Serena over Halep
(8) Karolina Pliskova over Lucie Safarova – Safarova upsets (12) Garbine Muguruza in the third round to get to this point.
Stephens over (15) Elise Mertens
Svitolina over Vekic
Ostapenko over Konta
Keys over Kerber
Kvitova over Osaka
Bertens over Wozniacki
Serena over Pliskova
Stephens over Svitolina
Keys over Ostapenko
Kvitova over Bertens
Serena over Stephens
Keys over Kvitova
Keys over Serena