The 2015 US Open. What to say about the women’s draw that hasn’t been gone over time and time again already? Yes, Serena Williams is looking for a clean sweep of Slam titles this season and after her Cincinnati title recently it’s hard to see her letting this one slip. Frankly I hope she does win it because you have step back and simply admire an athlete when they take things to a whole new level and write a piece of tennis history that will forever be remembered. That is what Serena Williams has in front of her as she goes for her 22nd Grand Slam title and her seventh at Flushing Meadows.
If I could spot anyone in the field who is likely to make her quest difficult, just to make the tournament interesting, it would be great to ramp up the anticipation. But I can’t. Of the main clutch of challengers, none of them look in the current kind of form worthy of being crowned the US Open champion this season. Not Maria Sharapova, not Victoria Azarenka or, well, that’s about it really. Belinda Bencic is fifth favourite in the draw which sums up the lack of challenge heading the way of Williams.
Simona Halep’s return to form on the hard courts has at least piqued a bit of interest. The young Romanian has been immense on hard courts this season and while she disappeared without a trace during the clay and grass court swings, she’s back on top of her game with consecutive finals at the Rogers Cup and Cincinnati. The fact that she won neither (retired against Bencic in Canada and lost to Williams in Cincy) doesn’t bode well but at least she is back in form and presents as something of a contender for the US Open title.
I’m not believing for a minute that anything other than a Williams win will happen, but Halep’s revival keeps things interesting in what is a weak-looking field in terms of current form. It would be a little sour for Williams if she were denied the clean sweep by a young pretender claiming her first Slam title.
So instead of focusing any more on Williams inevitably winning at Flushing Meadows, I have decided to break the tournament down into four mini events by looking at quarters.
The first quarter is a wash and anyone drawn up there in Williams’ quarter will probably be cursing their luck. Only a potential quarter final clash against Belinda Bencic for Williams raises a bit of interest there. Moving on then.
First Quarter Winner: Serena Williams
One to watch: Belinda Bencic as she is carrying the hot hand and only one of two players to beat Williams this year.
Second quarter is Maria Sharapova’s quarter but while she has had a solidly understated season, just getting back from injury she’s certainly no lock for the semi’s. There are a couple of others in the quarter I would fancy more, one being Jelena Jankovic who did well in Cincinnati and who should be knocking around the fourth round at Flushing Meadows. The winner of a great first round matchup of Dominika Cibulkova and Ana Ivanovic should also have the legs to set up a fourth round battle against Jankovic.
Second Quarter Winner: Jelena Jankovic
One to watch: Elina Svitolina coming off semi’s in both Stanford and Cincy and ran to the quarters of the French Open. Great hard court form.
The third quarter is Petra Kvitova's Quarter. The Czech just won in New Haven so is carrying a bit of form. She went past Caroline Wozniacki in the semi’s of New Haven and the Dane is also in the third quarter so there’s a potential rematch to come there in the quarters. Garbine Muguruza is also in the mix but has looked spent since her Wimbledon efforts. This quarter is wide open, but I’m leaning towards Wozniacki. She was a finalist here last year and was out of hard court form (injury issues) until she hit New Haven when she ran to the semi’s at a place she enjoys. Kvitova was also out of form until New Haven, but had no injury issues to blame, just illness. Wozniacki with a repeat of a semifinal berth back at Flushing meadows.
Third Quarter Winner: Caroline Wozniacki
One to watch: Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, as long as she stays patient she could have a great run at Flushing meadows. Hit her first Premier quarter final in Cincinnati and while she’s naturally more at home on clay, is starting to show she can carry it over on the hard court.
The fourth Quarter is all about Simona Halep. She seems back to her relaxed and fluent self, thank goodness. The hard courts are clearly where she flourishes and is apparently chomping at the bit to get another crack at Williams after losing to her in the Cincinnati final. The fourth quarter is more combative than the others, with Victoria Azarenka, Lucie Safarova, Sabine Lisicki and Angelique Kerber knocking around as seeds in there. Azarenka lost at the French Open and Wimbledon this year to Williams (and in two of the last three US Open finals) so will be happy to be in the opposite half of the draw to the American. That may just give her the chance to flourish and with a 2-0 record over Halep (both hard court) Vika could edge it.
Fourth Quarter Winner: Victoria Azarenka
One to watch: Obviously it’s going to be Simona Halep. The fourth quarter should be all about these two and their quarter final clash.