US Open 2017 Main Draw Preview

Before you read this preview, you might want to take a look at the draw first… It’s just amazing with so many juicy, intriguing match-ups! I’ll be breaking down the US Open draw in this preview.

First quarter: Headlined by [1] Karolina Pliskova 

[1] Karolina Pliskova vs Magda Linette
Veronica Cepede Royg vs [Q] Nicole Gibbs
Risa Ozaki vs [Q] Danielle Lao
Sabine Lisicki vs [27] Zhang Shuai
[23] Barbora Strycova vs Misaki Doi
Jennifer Brady vs Andrea Petkovic
[WC] Taylor Townsend vs Ana Bogdan
Monica Niculescu vs [14] Kristina Mladenovic

If Pliskova is to remain at the top, she will need to at least defend her final points from last year’s Open and other results need to fall in her favour too. That’s a tough ask, so she really needs to get in the groove early to make a deep run at the Big Apple. Pliskova kicks off her US Open campaign against Magda Linette, then either Veronica Cepede Royg or Nicole Gibbs. The level starts to increase gradually with No.27 seed Zhang Shuai or Sabine Lisicki looming in the third round. This is a decent draw for the Czech player and it should give Pliskova more confidence heading into the second week here.

Kristina Mladenovic has really been struggling since the iconic “she speaks 25 languages” made by Garbine Muguruza in Roland Garros. Since then, she has only won back-to-back matches in two events and lost her last six out of nine matches. She will hope to find some form in NYC but her first round opponent is Monica Niculescu, a player who is low on confidence as well but has beaten her twice before. Barbora Strycova is also in this section and she could take advantage of the opening with many players in bad form here.

Second quarter: Headlined by [8] Svetlana Kuznetsova

[10] Agnieszka Radwanska vs Petra Martic
[Q] Sofya Zhuk vs Yulia Putintseva
Ons Jabeur vs [WC] Brienne Minor
Alison Riske vs [20] CoCo Vandeweghe
[26] Anett Kontaveit vs Lucie Safarova
Nao Hibino vs Catherine Bellis
Kurumi Nara vs Sara Sorribes Tormo
Marketa Vondrousova vs [8] Svetlana Kuznetsova

Svetlana Kuznetsova is a former champion and knows what it takes to lift the US Open trophy. Can she rewind the years and win the title in 2017? She starts off with rising youngster Marketa Vondrousova in a must watch round one encounter, before a potential meeting with Anett Kontaveit (who has to get past Lucie Safarova first).

Agnieszka Radwanska is the projected fourth round opponent for Kuznetsova, but there are many caveats for the Pole. First, she has never made it past the fourth round of the US Open in five attempts, and her dire form doesn’t suggest she can do so. She has a tricky draw to deal with, starting with Petra Martic, then a possible meeting with CoCo Vandeweghe in the third round. Vandeweghe-Alison Riske is another exciting first rounder with Vandeweghe leading the head to head 5-4.

Third quarter: Headlined by [4] Elina Svitolina

[4] Elina Svitolina vs Katerina Siniakova
Evgeniya Rodina vs Eugenie Bouchard
Shelby Rogers vs [WC] Kayla Day
[Q] Allie Kiick vs [25] Daria Gavrilova
[17] Elena Vesnina vs [Q] Anna Blinkova
Madison Brengle vs Kirsten Flipkens
Tatjana Maria vs [WC] Ashley Kratzer
Elise Mertens vs [15] Madison Keys

In WTA tier events, no one has been more outstanding than Elina Svitolina. The Ukranian has claimed five titles this year, including three Premier 5 events in Dubai, Rome and Toronto. She has been brilliant this year, but can she finally convert it to Grand Slam success? As a Top 4 seed in a Grand Slam for the first time in her career she has a relatively difficult draw to deal with, starting with Shenzhen and Bastad champion Katerina Siniakova in the first round. It doesn’t get easier from then on as she could play Daria Gavrilova in the third round (she leads head to head 4-2) then Madison Keys in the round of 16.

Talking about Keys, she is another player who has been brilliant of late as well. The American did nothing much up till Wimbledon having underwent two wrist surgeries, but is now fit and healthy and that led her to a first title on home soil at the Stanford Classic. She also went on to make the third round in Cincinnati, losing to Garbine Muguruza in an epic. Keys looks to be very strong and could be a contender of a title – firstly she has to get past Elise Mertens who made the semifinals in New Haven. Her projected third round opponent is Elena Vesnina who is in a dire spell too and has a dangerous opponent in hard-hitting Anna Blinkova.

Fourth quarter: Headlined by [6] Angelique Kerber

[12] Jelena Ostapenko vs Lara Arruabarrena
[Q] Lesley Kerkhove vs Sorana Cirstea
Daria Kasatkina vs Wang Qiang
Christina McHale vs [19] Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
[28] Lesia Tsurenko vs Yanina Wickmayer
[Q] Kaia Kanepi vs Francesca Schiavone
Denisa Allertova vs [Q] Rebecca Peterson
Naomi Osaka vs [6] Angelique Kerber

Angelique Kerber’s woes continue on court and after failing to defend her Cincinnati final points she has dropped out of the top 5. This could be a blessing in disguise for the German though as she has been constantly playing under pressure this year and thus not able to perform her best. The problem for Kerber is, can she even get past the first round? She plays Naomi Osaka who could easily blow Kerber off court and send the defending champion out on Day 1. Whoever who wins this match has a good chance to reach the second week here (see the draw above).

The top half of Kerber’s quarter could be anybody’s chance to make it to the fourth round. Jelena Ostapenko and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are the seeded players, but they are those hit-or-miss players and could easily fall in the opening rounds. Ostapenko plays Lara Arruabarrena, while Pavlyuchenkova faces Christina McHale in their New Haven rematch. With this opening, the winner of Wang Qiang-Daria Kasatkina could be the one going deep here. In case you didn’t know, Wang won the gold medal in the Chinese National Games a week ago, beating Zhang Shuai in the final.

Fifth quarter: Headlined by [6] Caroline Wozniacki

[5] Caroline Wozniacki vs [Q] Mihaela Buzarnescu
Mona Barthel vs Ekaterina Makarova
[Q] Ipek Soylu vs Carla Suarez Navarro
Monica Puig vs [29] Mirjana Lucic-Baroni
[24] Kiki Bertens vs Maria Sakkari
Richel Hogenkamp vs [WC] Arina Rodionova
Pauline Parmentier vs Oceane Dodin
[Q] Viktoria Kuzmova vs [9] Venus Williams

Caroline Wozniacki, who does well at the US Open consistently, has one of the best sections and should at least make the fourth round. She could play Ekaterina Makarova in the second round (Wozniacki has a 7-0 record against) and a trio of Monica Puig, Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Carla Suarez Navarro in the round of 16. I’ll pick Suarez Navarro to play Wozniacki since she is the most consistent but the Dane has a 5-2 advantage in their HTH.

If Wozniacki does make it there, the level will definitely increase as her likely opponent would be Venus Williams, who has a commanding 7-0 record in their HTH. Williams has an astounding 71-15 record in the US Open and won the trophy in 2001-2002 so she is definitely a contender for the championship. Venus could face a little competition in Oceane Dodin in the second round but other than that, I don’t see anyone that can stop Williams from making the second week.

Image result for wozniacki us open 2016

Sixth quarter: Headlined by [3] Garbine Muguruza

[13] Petra Kvitova vs Jelena Jankovic
Heather Watson vs Alize Cornet
[Q] Anna Zaja vs Ekaterina Alexandrova
[Q] Tereza Martincova vs [18] Caroline Garcia
[31] Magdalena Rybarikova vs Camila Giorgi
Kristyna Pliskova vs Misa Eguchi
[Q] Claire Liu vs Duan Ying-Ying
Vavara Lepchenko vs [3] Garbine Muguruza

Have you seen a scary looking surgically repaired hand circling around Twitter? If you haven’t seen it and are going to find it, don’t. The hand actually belongs to Petra Kvitova! It’s a miracle she’s playing tennis and makes her title run in Birmingham back in June even more amazing. Since then she has been struggling a little, having only won three matches in four US hard court events. She will want to find some form in NYC but she would need to beat Jelena Jankovic, Alize Cornet and Caroline Garcia all just to get to the second week. If Peak Petra doesn’t make an appearance it would be a tough task for the Czech.

As opposed to her last two Grand Slam final runs, Garbine Muguruza is now handling the expectations and pressure very well. Since the Wimbledon triumph, Muguruza has reached the quarterfinals in her last three events, including a title in Cincinnati, trouncing Simona Halep in the final. The World No.3 has never passed the second round in the US Open but seems likely to do so this time since she is playing so well the last few weeks. Muguruza has one of the best draws of the top 8 seeds, with probably the toughest opponent before the second week being Magdalena Rybarikova or Kristyna Pliskova in round 3.

Image result for garbine muguruza us open 2016

Seventh quarter: Headlined by [7] Johanna Konta

[7] Johanna Konta vs Aleksandra Krunic
Alja Tomljanovic vs Johanna Larsson
Zheng Saisai vs Alison van Utyvanck
Annika Beck vs [30] Julia Goerges
[21] Ana Konjuh vs Ashleigh Barty
Aliaksandra Sasnovich vs Julia Boserup
Sloane Stephens vs Roberta Vinci
Jana Cepelova vs [11] Dominika Cibulkova

Johanna Konta continues to impress in 2017 but she has not made so much noise on the US hard courts this season, winning only two matches during this span. Having reached the fourth round last year, can she go one step further and make a run at the Big Apple? She is set to meet Julia Goerges in the third round – the German player is in-form having reached three finals this season.

As of writing, Dominika Cibulkova is in the New Haven final and seems to be finding some form heading into the final stretch of the season. She has loads to defend in the next few months and really needs to gain as many points as she can. She starts off with Jana Cepelova – then possibly one of the best players of the Toronto-Cincinnati double, Sloane Stephens. It doesn’t get easier from then on with last year’s quarterfinalist, Ana Konjuh or Ashleigh Barty looming in the round of 16.

Eighth quarter: Headlined by [2] Simona Halep

[16] Anastasija Sevastova vs Carina Witthoeft
Irina-Camelia Begu vs [Q] Kateryna Kozlova
Donna Vekic vs Beatriz Haddad Maia
[WC] Amandine Hesse vs [22] Peng Shuai
[32] Lauren Davis vs [WC] Sofia Kenin
Natalia Vikhlyantseva vs [Q] Sachia Vickery
Viktorija Golubic vs Timea Babos
[WC] Maria Sharapova vs [2] Simona Halep

Can you believe it… out of 127 players, how did Simona Halep get Maria Sharapova in the first round?!??!?! Completely insane!!!!! Halep has reached the quarterfinals in the last two years of the US Open and always plays well here but has an 0-6 losing record against Sharapova. Against a rusty Maria who has only played one match during the US hard court swing, can Halep finally end the losing streak here? The winner of this match has a potentially easy path to the quarters, with the seeded players being Anastasija Sevastova, Peng Shuai and Lauren Davis.

Image result for halep us open 2016

Predictions

Quarterfinals: Ka.Pliskova d. Vandeweghe
Svitolina d. Wang Qiang
Williams d. Muguruza
Konta d. Halep

Semifinals: Svitolina d. Ka.Pliskova
Williams d. Konta

Winner: Williams

Please follow my New Haven predictions here and my Twitter account here 🙂 US Open Predictions and thoughts will come out really soon! Thank you for reading!

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