US OPEN 2015 – WOMEN’S DRAW
When it comes to the WTA side of Grand Slams, you have to ask two questions. Firstly, can Williams win it? If the answer is yes, which it generally is, then it’s always worth checking her odds and at 1.95, she’s an appealing option.
The American ace is looking at a possible 22nd Grand Slam title, while she has won 28 consecutive matches in Slams and has 21 straight wins at the US Open.
However, with Venus, Agnieszka Radwanska, Belinda Bencic and Sloane Stephens all in her quarter, it might be trickier to get to the final than she would like.
The second question is who is best placed to stop her? The answer to that question comes by looking at the in-form stars and the luck of the draw.
In an ideal world for many of the top seeds, they will land on the other half of the draw. Take number two seed Simona Halep for example. The Romanian ace became the world number two last week, but the most talked about aspect of her achievement was how important it would be for her to avoid Williams until the final in New York.
Given her recent form which saw her make the finals in Toronto and Cincinnati, she represents a genuine threat to the rest of the field. At 12.00, Halep is certainly worth strong consideration.
Similarly to Serena though, she will have some tough assignments with Lucie Safarova and Victoria Azarenka likely to be standing in her way.
Maria Sharapova arrives in the Big Apple without any preparation, as a right leg injury forced her to miss the Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Open.
Can she walk into Flushing Meadows and produce? We don’t think she can, so avoid backing the potentially out-of-sorts Russian star particularly after she landed in the top half of the draw along with her bitter rival.
Outside of the world’s top three, Azarenka remains a huge threat on this surface and the Belarusian has shown glimpses of her former self in recent months. While she still hasn’t quite found the consistency needed to go all the way, she will be looking to make a statement if possible.
Elsewhere, WTA Rising Star Bencic is no longer a surprise package. The Swiss ace has rocketed up the rankings and is now 12th in the world. While that in itself is impressive, her run to the title in Toronto was spectacular.
The 18-year-old took out Bouchard, Wozniacki, Lisicki, Ivanovic, Serena and then Halep in the final (albeit with the Romanian retiring), to complete a memorable week of tennis.
A right arm injury forced her to withdraw in Cincinnati, but provided that it is has cleared up, she could be a huge threat to her rivals.
While we expect another dominant fortnight from Williams, it is Halep who has our backing as she has been brilliantly consistent on this surface this year and is our pick to emerge from the bottom half of the draw.