The final slam of the year begins on Monday with Sloane Stephens looking to defend her title and remain in the top 5 of the WTA Tour rankings. Most eyes will remain on Serena Williams though, who seeks to pick up her 24th slam title and equal the record of Margaret Court. A title here would also be a US Open record in the Open Era.
Full draw here: US Open Women’s 2018 Draw
Watch the US Open 2018 Live Stream Here.
Check out the men’s draw analysis here: US Open Men’s Draw Preview
The benefits of being the No.1 seed do not look to have been felt for Simona Halep when it comes to the draw. To make the quarter finals, she will likely have to beat one of Venus Williams or Serena Williams. The pair are slated as her fourth round opponent at seeds 16 and 17 respectively. With two first round exits and a third round at slams this year, Venus may well be on the way out again although you can never write her off until she is finally done. Meanwhile, Serena comes off a Wimbledon final. She may have been outplayed and outrun by Kerber in that match but it was an impressive feat to make it there. The selective seeding of 17 for the six time champion remains curious – either keeping her at current ranking or seeding her like a 23 time slam champion and six time US Open champion seem more logical.
Despite having a reputation for peaking at slams now, it hasn’t quite clicked yet for Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard is yet to make the quarter finals in New York and it may be a tough ask for her again with just one match under her belt since Wimbledon. Injuries kept her out until Cincinnati, where she lost her opening match to Lesia Tsurenko. 18th seed Ashleigh Barty will look to grab the opportunity while former finalist Karolina Pliskova is also in this section. However, her 2-3 record since Wimbledon is nothing to shout about and doesn’t bode well for the event.
If Sloane Stephens is to be taken seriously as a potential slam contender at the event, her route to the quarter finals should be fairly routine. The third seed always performs well in North America and added a Canada final run to her titles in New York and Miami over the past 12 months. Victoria Azarenka is a two time finalist and may face Stephens in round three although the Belarussian has still yet to gain any consistency since her return. Stephens beat her in both Indian Wells and Miami and should be favoured to do it a third time as well. The other seeds in her section, in particular Elise Mertens, are solid but Sloane is more proven on the big stage. She will want to avenge her Cincinnati loss to the Belgian though, having lost in straight sets there.
The top half of the draw is capped off by Elina Svitolina as seventh seed. The Ukranian has lost that buzz she had surrounding her prior to the French Open after winning Rome. Her early exits in Paris and Wimbledon will lead some to believe that she isn’t capable of being a consistent threat when it comes to the slams. A route to the quarter finals that includes the likes of Rybarikova, a struggling Radwanska and Julia Goerges is far from testing but many would not have expected her to lose to Tatjana Maria and Mihaela Burzanescu either, even if the latter was in the best form of her career. Goerges made the semi finals of Wimbledon and given a bit of luck, a repeat would not be all that surprising.
With many of the contenders in the top half of the draw, it provides a great opportunity for the likes of Caroline Garcia who may not need to get through a monster draw to make it to finals weekend. The sixth seed is yet to make the fourth round in New York but should be favoured to do so should she oust a falling Johanna Konta in round one and tie their head to head at 3-3. Carla Suarez Navarro comes into the event at the 30 seed fresh off a New Haven final while the potential fourth rounder between Garcia and one of Jelena Ostapenko and Maria Sharapova could be very interesting. Garcia has won the last two meetings with Sharapova, who has just one quarter final since returning from her ban.
Angelique Kerber is back amongst the elite after winning her third grand slam title at Wimbledon, impressively beating Serena Williams in straight sets. Her 2017 was full of struggles and there wasn’t a great deal to suggest she was capable of a comeback going into 2018. However, she is now back in the top 5 and armed with a favourable draw. The likes of Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe, both potential fourth round opponents, have been found to struggle against the elite defensive players like Kerber can be. Kerber is 7-2 against Keys but did lose their last meeting in Cincinnati this month, falling in three sets.
Petra Kvitova‘s decision to play New Haven looked a strange one, even before she picked up a shoulder injury that may damage her chances to even compete at the event. Kvitova had found the US Open difficult in the past but two quarter finals in the past three years suggests she is at least getting her act together. If fit, she would be favoured to make the fourth round but New Haven champion Aryna Sabalenka will have a lot to say about that. The Belarussian is in good form right now and is now at a career high inside the top 20. Naomi Osaka‘s three match losing streak is somewhat concerning going into the tournament but the Japanese star’s power could take her a long way in this tournament. In round three, a rematch of the Indian Wells final with Darya Kasatkina could well occur. It was Osaka who was successful on that occasion, comfortably winning in straight sets.
Now a slam champion, Caroline Wozniacki does not have the pressure of being a (former) No.1 without a slam anymore. However, she is still perceived to be way down the list of potential winners despite her current rank of No.2. She opens against a former champion in Sam Stosur while Anett Kontaveit will be eager to get another crack at Wozniacki after her easy victory last time out. Mihaela Burzanescu is in the draw as a seed but there are heavy questions over her ability to compete, possibly giving Kiki Bertens a great chance to go deep. Bertens’ Cincinnati title will put her in good stead, especially having beaten the World No.1 Simona Halep in the final.