2018 US Open WTA: Main Draw Preview

The fourth and final Grand Slam of the year is upon us as 128 women from the WTA will battle it out for the prestigious US Open title at the end of the fortnight. The three Grand Slams of 2018 have all delivered in different aspects and the US Open is shaping out to be another fantastic event by the look of the draw. Continue reading on for the draw preview…

Main Draw PDF Link here

Player profiles

First quarter – Projected QF: [1] Halep vs [8] Ka.Pliskova

[1] Simona Halep (No.1)

Image result for halep us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Halep has truly solidified herself as the World No.1 after a bruising summer which saw her claim nine matches in a row in Montreal and Cincinnati, and she was one point away from winning the prestigious double before fading away in the third set against Kiki Bertens. Even though the result must have been disappointing, Halep should be brimming with confidence right now after a stunning run to the title in Montreal, defeating Sloane Stephens in a thrilling three-setter final. Halep has shown she can beat anyone in the world right now and is definitely one of the top contenders for the US Open crown. It’s not going to be an easy route to the quarterfinals though – starting off with Kaia Kanepi, who reached the quarterfinals in New York last year, Halep could face Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the third round (who pushed Halep to three tough sets in Montreal) , then either one of the Williams sisters in the fourth round.

Draw projections: R1: Kanepi

R2: Jakupovic or [Q] Teichmann

R3: [27] Pavlyuchenkova or Peterson or Vikhlyantseva

R4: [16] V.Williams or [17] S.Williams

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, Champion (d. Stephens)

Cincinnati, Final (i. Bertens)

New Haven, W/O

US Open win-loss record: 16-8 (2015 SF)

[8] Karolina Pliskova (No.8)

Image result for karolina pliskova us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Pliskova managed to produce solid yet unspectacular results for the first four months of the year, and when it seemed like things were going to turn around during the clay court swing where she won Stuttgart and beat Halep on clau, everything has come to a halting stop and the Czech is currently at a huge low right now. Straightforward losses to Kiki Bertens (2-6 2-6) in Cincinnati and Ekaterina Makarova (1-6 3-6) in New Haven are really worrying and she’s on the coaching carousel once again, opting to work with Conchita Martinez for the fortnight. Martinez formerly worked with Garbine Muguruza, bringing her to great heights at Wimbledon last year – will it work this time round with Pliskova? Pliskova has got herself an OK draw, but perhaps Maria Sakkari in the third round or Ash Barty in the fourth round could prove to be a stumbling block for the 2016 US Open finalist.

Draw projections: R1: Diyas

R2: Bogdan or [Q] Bouzkova

R3: [32] Sakkari or Kenin

R4: [12] Muguruza or [18] Barty or Safarova

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, 3R (i. Bertens)

Cincinnati, 3R (i. Sabalenka)

New Haven, 1R (i. Makarova)

US Open win-loss record: 13-8 (2016 F)

[12] Garbiñe Muguruza (No.12)

Image result for muguruza us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Pliskova and Muguruza were competing for the World No.1 spot this time last year, but both of them have fell into a huge slump and it’s been even worse for Muguruza who dropped out of the top 10 after failing to defend her Cincinnati points from last year. The Spaniard had been dealing with injury since Wimbledon, and has played only one match on the US hard courts. It must be said that Muguruza is one of the best at coming in cold to a Slam and randomly making a deep run, but it doesn’t look very possible with her confidence at an all time-low. While it seems like a manageable draw for the first two rounds – Zhang Shuai will be coming from the Asian Games in Indonesia and Yastremska is still relatively inexperienced, the slice and dice game of Ashleigh Barty is definitely an upset alert if the Australian can get past Lucie Safarova or Petra Martic in the second round.

Draw projections: R1: Zhang Shuai

R2: Yastremska or [Q] Muchkova

R3: [18] Barty or Martic or Safarova

R4: [8] Ka.Pliskova or [32] Sakkari

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

San Jose, W/O

Montreal, W/O

Cincinnati, 1R (i. Tsurenko)

US Open win-loss record: 5-5 (2017 4R)

[16] Venus Williams (No.16)

Image result for venus us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: It seems like majority of the seeds in the first quarter are struggling for form as Venus has barely been able to garner back-to-back wins in tournaments this season. Last year, the Slams were where Venus kept on winning and winning, but this year she hasn’t been able to make the second week at any of the three Slams and is a mediocre 15-10 for the season. Venus was struggling with various types of injuries in Montreal and hopefully she’ll be fully fit after two weeks of rest. If she’s not fully fit then an early exit could be on the cards – she starts off with Washington champion and 2006 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, then likely the enigmatic Camila Giorgi in the second round, and possibly a sister rematch with Serena in the round of 32. Let’s not mention Halep in the fourth round… it’s not going to be easy at all for Williams to defend her semifinalist points from last year.

Draw projections: R1: Kuznetsova

R2: Giorgi or Osuigwe

R3: [17] S.Williams

R4: [1] Halep

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

San Jose, QF (i. Sakkari)

Montreal, 3R (i. Halep)

Cincinnati, W/O

US Open win-loss record: 76-16 (2000, 2001 champion)

[17] Serena Williams (No.25)

Image result for serena us open 2016 zimbio

Player overview: Serena has been awarded a seeding of No.17 and it comes as a surprise as the former World No.1 would already have been seeded after a run to the final at Wimbledon. Williams is on a three-match losing streak at the moment – a loss to Angelique Kerber in the Wimbledon final, a 1-6 0-6 defeat to Johanna Konta in San Jose, and a three-set loss to Petra Kvitova in Cincinnati. Though she lost in Cincy, it was a very encouraging performance from Williams who rallied with Kvitova from the baseline and looked more secure with her footwork. Serena has a good draw early doors – Magda Linette, Caroline Dolehide or Carina Witthoeft probably won’t cause too much issues and Venus is struggling of late, so it seems like a Halep-Serena fourth round match-up is on the cards. That one is definitely a 50-50 match-up…

Draw projections: R1: Linette

R2: Dolehide or Witthoeft

R3: [16] V.Williams or Kuznetsova or Giorgi

R4: [1] Halep

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

San Jose, 1R (i. Konta)

Cincinnati, 1R (i. Kvitova)

US Open win-loss record: 89-11 (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014 champion)

Second quarter – Projected QF: [3] Stephens vs [7] Svitolina

[3] Sloane Stephens (No.3)

Image result for stephens us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Stephens’ Jekyll and Hyde year continues on as she had a great week in Montreal, falling to Halep in an exciting three-set final, but was error-strewn and mostly frustrated in a third round loss to Elise Mertens in Cincinnati. I don’t think that loss will affect her but I wonder if defending her title from 2017 may affect her mentally, as we saw this year with Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open and Muguruza at Wimbledon. If she can bring her best form to New York then it’s a really good draw as the seeds in her section are unlikely to overpower her.

Draw projections: R1: Rodina

R2: [Q] Kalinina or [Q] Von Deichmann

R3: [25] Gavrilova or [WC] Azarenka

R4: [15] Mertens or [23] Strycova

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Washington, 2R (i. Petkovic)

Montreal, Final (i. Halep)

Cincinnati, 3R (i. Mertens)

US Open win-loss record: 17-8 (2017 champion)

[7] Elina Svitolina (No.7)

Image result for svitolina us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Unlike Stephens, Svitolina has had a very solid year thus far, but has once again not been able to produce her best tennis at the big events. Svitolina has done well to recover from a disappointing grass court swing by making the semifinals of Montreal and quarterfinals of Cincinnati, but both of them ended in pretty disappointing losses. The US Open has never been a happy hunting ground for Svitolina and it’s not the easiest of the draws for the Ukrainian, drawing Agnieszka Radwanska in the second round and potentially hard-hitting Julia Goerges in the fourth round.

Draw projections: R1: Vickery

R2: Radwanska or Maria

R3: [31] Rybarikova or Q.Wang or Brady

R4: [9] Goerges or [19] Sevastova

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, SF (i. Stephens)

Cincinnati, QF (i. Bertens)

US Open win-loss record: 11-6 (2017 4R)

[9] Julia Goerges (No.9)

Image result for goerges us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: The lacking thing in Goerges’ resume has always been a deep run in a Grand Slam event, but the German finally achieved that with a run to the semifinals at Wimbledon, and with that also made her way back into the world’s top 10. Since then though, she hasn’t been able to reach the heights of that run, with disappointing exits in her three US tournaments. One of those losses was to Anastasija Sevastova, and I feel like these two are always magnetically attracted in draws as they are set to meet each other in the third round by seeding. It doesn’t always go by seeding though, as dangerous floaters like Donna Vekic or Ekaterina Makarova could pull off an upset as well. Not going to be easy for Goerges to defend her fourth round points from last year.

Draw projections: R1: [Q] Kalinskaya

R2: [Q] Watson or Makarova

R3: [19] Sevastova or Vekic

R4: [7] Svitolina or [31] Rybarikova

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, 3R (i. Sevastova)

Cincinnati, 1R (ret. to Mladenovic)

New Haven, SF (i. Sabalenka)

US Open win-loss record: 10-11 (2017 4R)

[15] Elise Mertens (No.15)

Image result for mertens us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Mertens has found back her first half of the year form, recording eight wins over the past three weeks in North America. Since becoming a top 20 player, Mertens is becoming more and more reliable in tournaments and beating players she is expected to beat. A stat: Mertens has only lost to one player outside the world’s top 50 on hard courts this season. Mertens has never been past the first round at the US Open and it’s a good opener for her as she faces World No.98 Kurumi Nara.

Draw projections: R1: Nara

R2: Lapko or Bondarenko

R3: [23] Strycova

R4: [3] Stephens

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

San Jose, SF (i. Buzarnescu)

Montreal, QF (i. Svitolina)

Cincinnati, QF (i. Kvitova)

US Open win-loss record: 3-3 (2016, 2017 1R)

Victoria Azarenka (No.80)

Image result for azarenka us open 2015 zimbio

Player overview: Since Indian Wells and Miami, Azarenka hasn’t been able to get back the form that saw her capture major titles on the tour, and just seems to be lacking a spark on court nowadays. Azarenka has always thrived on the US hard courts though and perhaps this could be the tournament she’s on the comeback trail once again? A third round meeting with Stephens could be a key match in the second quarter, supposing she can get past fiery Slovakian Viktoria Kuzmova and Daria Gavrilova first – the latter who is in rotten form of late.

Draw projections: R1: Kuzmova

R2: [25] Gavrilova or Sorribes Tormo

R3: [3] Stephens

R4: [15] Mertens or [23] Strycova

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

San Jose, QF (ret. to Collins)

Montreal, 2R (i. Konta)

Cincinnati, 2R (i. Garcia)

US Open win-loss record:

Third quarter – Projected QF: [4] Kerber vs [6] Garcia

[4] Angelique Kerber (No.4)

Image result for kerber us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: It’s normal to have a slight slump after a huge triumph, and it seems to have affected Kerber once again as the Wimbledon champion hasn’t been able to get going since lifting the Venus Rosewater Dish a month back. I don’t think the slump will last too much longer though as the German now has the experience to know what to do in such kinds of situations, but if it’s going to happen in New York, it’s not going to be that simple. Kerber could face Montreal conqueror Alize Cornet in the second round, followed by Dominika Cibulkova and Madison Keys – all opponents who have beaten Kerber before.

Draw projections: R1: Gasparyan

R2: Cornet or Larsson

R3: [29] Cibulkova or Hsieh

R4: [14] Keys or [24] Vandeweghe

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, 2R (i. Cornet)

Cincinnati, 3R (i. Keys)

US Open win-loss record: 26-10 (2016 champion)

[6] Caroline Garcia (No.6)

Image result for caroline garcia us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Garcia has been the most disappointing player inside the top 10 this year and while we have seen flashes of brilliance like a great win over Sharapova in Montreal, she hasn’t been able to sustain that form over a week and her all-out aggressive game has ended up in mountains of errors in her losses. Looking at her US Open draw, a Garcia-Mladenovic third round match-up is a possibility, but Garcia has gotten one of the most dangerous floaters in the draw – Johanna Konta. Considering Mladenovic and Carla Suarez Navarro (the other seed in this section)’s topsy-turvy results this season, this section could certainly conjure up a surprise name for the fourth round spot.

Draw projections: R1: Konta

R2: Puig or Voegele

R3: [30] Suarez Navarro or Mladenovic or Zidansek

R4: [10] Ostapenko or Sharapova

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, QF (i. Halep)

Cincinnati, 3R (i. Sabalenka)

New Haven, QF (i. Puig)

US Open win-loss record: 6-7 (2017 3R)

[10] Jelena Ostapenko (No.10)

Image result for ostapenko us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Ostapenko hasn’t been able to get her game going since the Wimbledon semifinal, but knowing Ostapenko’s nature she’s very unlikely to produce consistent results week in week out on the tour. Ostapenko’s on a three-match losing streak with defeats to Konta and Cornet, ending the losses in a stream of unforced errors. You never know what to expect from Ostapenko but everyone’s probably hoping she can get it going as a possible Ostapenko-Sharapova third round match-up sounds like buckets of fun. Firstly though, Andrea Petkovic in the first round won’t be easy as the German has started to find back some form after a horrendous start to the year. Also in this section: Amanda Anisimova, the 16-year-old who has been grabbing the headlines since bursting onto the scene in Miami. She has a doable opener in Taylor Townsend and could face the Latvian in the second round.

Draw projections: R1: Petkovic

R2: Townsend or Anisimova

R3: [22] Sharapova or Cirstea or Riske

R4: [6] Garcia or [30] Suarez Navarro or Konta

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, 1R (i. Konta)

Cincinnati, 1R (i. Cornet)

US Open win-loss record: 6-3 (2017 3R)

[14] Madison Keys (No.14)

Image result for keys us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Keys has had an injury-muddled season once again but thankfully she has managed to be present in all the big events this year. I’ll expect her to get past her first two opponents, where she could face CoCo Vandeweghe in a rematch of last year’s semifinal, or Kirsten Flipkens. If last year’s finalist manages to get to there, she’ll likely face Kerber which will probably be a key match in this bottom half of the draw.

Draw projections: R1: Parmentier

R2: Putintseva or Pera

R3: [24] Vandeweghe or Flipkens

R4: [4] Kerber or [29] Cibulkova or Cornet

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

San Jose, W/O

Cincinnati, QF (i. Sabalenka)

US Open win-loss record: 15-8 (2017 F)

[22] Maria Sharapova (No.21)

Image result for sharapova us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Just like Keys, Sharapova has suffered from different types of injuries this year, and just recently withdrew from Cincinnati in her fifth withdrawal of 2018. The 2006 champion is seen practicing in New York already though and will be eager to rediscover some form after a disappointing few months. Sharapova has drawn qualifier Patty Schnyder for her first match of the fortnight – the first time the pair will meet in more than ten years! As aforementioned, the Russian is seeded to play Ostapenko in the round of 32.

Draw projections: R1: [Q] Schnyder

R2: Cirstea or Riske

R3: [10] Ostapenko or Petkovic

R4: [6] Garcia or [30] Suarez Navarro or Konta

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, 3R (i. Garcia)

US Open win-loss record: 35-10 (2006 champion)

Fourth quarter – Projected QF: [2] Wozniacki vs [5] Kvitova

[2] Caroline Wozniacki (No.2)

Image result for wozniacki us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Wozniacki is in worrying form at the moment and it seems like she is having many injury problems of late so I’m kind of surprised that she has been seen practicing in New York already. Hard courts have been the Dane’s best surface but she hasn’t won a match since Wimbledon – Wozniacki always plays a ton of matches before Slams so this definitely does not work in her favour. Before winning the Australian Open, the US Open had always been Wozniacki’s best Slam and she has reached the final on two occasions before. Will Wozniacki be able to channel her Slam-winning form and get back to winning ways soon? She kicks off her US Open campaign against 2009 champion Samantha Stosur.

Draw projections: R1: Stosur

R2: Van Uytvanck or Tsurenko

R3: [28] Kontaveit or Siniakova or Tomljanovic

R4: [13] Bertens or [21] Buzarnescu

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Washington, W/O

Montreal, 2R (i. Sabalenka)

Cincinnati, 2R (ret. to Bertens)

US Open win-loss record: 35-11 (2010, 2014 F)

[5] Petra Kvitova (No.5)

Image result for kvitova us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: Kvitova has struggled to bring her best tennis to the Grand Slams this year and hasn’t been in the second week of any of the three Slams thus far. Surprisingly, Kvitova has opted to play so much tennis and she has definitely looked fatigue in her losses in Cincinnati and New Haven. I don’t think the retirement in New Haven is too much a concern but she always seems to run out of gas at the Slams this year so I’m on the fence how far Kvitova can make it in New York. I’m pretty positive of her chances at the moment… you never know with Petra though. Kvitova is projected to play Aryna Sabalenka in the third round which will be a fascinating hard-hitting encounter.

Draw projections: R1: Wickmayer

R2: Y.Wang or Schmiedlova

R3: [26] Sabalenka

R4: [11] Kasatkina or [20] Osaka or Sasnovich or Niculescu

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, 3R (i. Bertens)

Cincinnati, SF (i. Bertens)

New Haven, QF (ret. to Suarez Navarro)

US Open win-loss record: 24-11 (2015, 2017 QF)

[11] Daria Kasatkina (No.11)

Image result for kasatkina us open 2017 zimbio

Player overview: The section headlined by No.11 seed Kasatkina is a fascinating one – while by seeding Kasatkina and Naomi Osaka are supposed to meet in the third round – an Indian Wells final rematch, other unseeded floaters can certainly make a name for themselves in New York. Kasatkina has only won one match since Wimbledon and is generally prone to playing passively against hard-hitters – clearly Timea Babos in 1R or Sasnovich in R2 has the potential to score an upset. Aliaksandra Sasnovich, Laura Siegemund, Monica Niculescu, Belinda Bencic and Timea Babos are all good players outside of the world’s top 32 in this section so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a surprise name come out of here.

Draw projections: R1: Babos

R2: Sasnovich or Bencic

R3: [20] Osaka or Niculescu or Siegemund

R4: [5] Kvitova or [26] Sabalenka

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, 2R (i. Sharapova)

Cincinnati, 1R (i. Martic)

US Open win-loss record: 7-4 (2017 4R)

[13] Kiki Bertens (No.13)

Image result for bertens cincinnati 2018

Player overview: What a season it has been for Bertens who has proved to the tennis world that she is no longer a clay court specialist. It all started with a quarterfinal run in Wimbledon, beating Venus Williams and Karolina Pliskova enroute – she just continues to win and win, reaching the Montreal quarterfinals and claiming the Cincinnati title, the biggest triumph of her career over World No.1 Halep. Surprisingly, Bertens continued to play doubles in New Haven, which makes me wonder if she has enough left in the tank to continue this stunning form. If she does, she could certainly do big things, with the first seed she could face being returning-from-injury Mihaela Buzarnescu. The Romanian suffered a huge fall in Montreal, but surprisingly is still in the draw here and it seems like she is going to play in New York. Bertens is definitely a dark horse here…

Draw projections: R1: Kr.Pliskova

R2: [Q] Di Lorenzo or McHale

R3: [21] Buzarnescu or Vondrousova or [Q] Bouchard

R4: [2] Wozniacki or [28] Kontaveit

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

Montreal, QF (i. Barty)

Cincinnati, Champion (d. Halep)

US Open win-loss record: 5-7 (2015 2R)

[26] Aryna Sabalenka (No.25)

Image result for sabalenka cincinnati 2018

Player overview: Just like Bertens, Sabalenka is in inspiring form at the moment and these two can’t stop winning right now. It all started with a win over No.2 Wozniacki by saving match points. Sabalenka brought the form to Cincinnati, beating Konta, Ka.Pliskova, Garcia and Keys before falling to Halep. Once again, she brings that to New Haven and is now in the final – her third of the year – after another strong victory over Goerges, her fifth top 10 triumph of 2018. The previous Slam at Wimbledon, Sabalenka lost in the first round after playing tons of matches the previous week – she’s obviously still young but I wonder if it’ll affect her coming into New York after so many matches.

Draw projections: R1: Collins

R2: [Q] Zvonareva or Blinkova

R3: [5] Kvitova

R4: [11] Kasatkina or [20] Osaka or Sasnovich or Niculescu

Tournaments played during US hard court swing:

San Jose, Q1 (i. Sanchez)

Montreal, 3R (i. Mertens)

Cincinnati, SF (i. Halep)

New Haven, F (as of writing)

US Open win-loss record: 1-2 (2016 Q2)

Final Wimbledon Prediction: Simona Halep d. Angelique Kerber

Thanks for reading! US Open predictions will be out soon!

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