The 2017 US Open draw was performed last Friday and the final Grand Slam of the year gets underway in less than 24 hours. It is that time of the year when you realize the tennis season is almost over. Which is probably one of the reasons why the US Open has become one of the most exciting events to watch. The men’s field this year has been marked by the many notable absentees. Only half of the ATP top 10 players will participate in the tournament this year, leaving little to the imagination about who will prevail. With the ATP number 1 spot at stake, Roger Federer seems to be very close to another wonder. But the women’s singles event is as ambiguous as the rest of the year and the WTA race to number 1 has been. Have look at what the draw looks like at the US Open official site and get back here for some first thoughts and predictions.
***For the 2018 US Open draw and predictions, follow this link.***
US Open 2017 Women’s draw analysis
The way the drawing system works in tennis Grand Slams, the top 4 seeds are not supposed to meet each other until the semi finals. Let’s see what each quarter of the women’s draw looks like, before venturing a guess about the winner.
Karolina Pliskova is the US Open top seed this year, as the WTA number 1 player at this point. Pliskova was a runner up at the US Open last year, losing the final to current WTA number 6, Angelique Kerber. Technically, the toughest opponent Pliskova will face until the semis is Svetlana Kuznetsova. Indeed, the road to the quarterfinals should be relatively easy for the Czech. But at that point, I see a couple of possible surprises. CoCo Vandeweghe has good chances of being Kuznetsova’s opponent in the 4th round. The only real obstacle for Vandeweghe until then is Aga Radwanska, who has managed to short-circuit the American’s power game 5 times in a row. During their latest clash in Toronto, Radwanska won again in 2 sets and Vandeweghe was visibly frustrated by the lack of pace during their match. It is only a matter of time before CoCo figures out a way to beat that style of play. If she manages to do that during this tournament, a possible match against Kuznetsova will be evenly balanced.
Possible quarterfinal match: Karolina Pliskova vs. CoCo Vandeweghe
The second quarter of the draw is the trickiest in my opinion. Number 4 seed, Elina Svitolina sits at the top, while defending champion Angelique Kerber is at the bottom. Between them are some of the hottest names in women’s tennis right now. Daria Gavrilova, winner of the Cincinnati title, is a possible third round opponent for Svitolina. Elena Vesnina and Madison Keys might be lurking at the very next round. Things seems to be even more difficult for Angelique Kerber, as Jelena Ostapenko, Daria Kasatkina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are all possible opponents, in -as early as- the fourth round. Interestingly, Kerber has lost to almost all of those opponents this year. She’s lost to Svitolina 3 times in 2017, in Brisbane, Dubai and the Fed Cup. Kasatkina beat her in Sydney and Doha. Vesnina beat her in Miami for the Indian Wells, while Pavlyuchenkova prevailed over Kerber to win the Monterrey Open in Mexico. We know Angelique Kerber has been struggling to find her form in 2017. But the US open draw seems particularly cruel, bringing all her “demons” to the same draw quarter.
Possible quarterfinal match: Madison Keys vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
Third seed Garbine Muguruza and fifth seed Caroline Wozniacki are part of this quarter. Both of them have a chance to make it quite far into the tournament. The most notable name in Wozniacki’s part of the draw is probably Venus Williams. Far from an easy (possible) third round match, but the tenacious Wozniacki we’ve seen so far this season seems to have the edge. The draw seems to be even easier for Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza. Petra Kvitova is a potential third round opponent and Magdalena Rybarikova will try to repeat her incredible Wimbledon run. Neither seems to be in position to question Muguruza’s dominance right now, unless we’re to witness a huge upset so early in the tournament.
Possible quarterfinal match: Garbine Muguruza vs. Caroline Wozniacki
OK, here things get interesting from the very first round. Second seed and wannabe WTA number 1, Simona Halep will face Maria Sharapova. Halep has lost every single match she’s ever played against the Russian. On top, Simona Halep was one of the players who have openly criticized Sharapova’s wild cards post her suspension. There’s the question of whether Sharapova has fully overcome her arm injury. If she has, we might see a very early exit from the world number 2. Another failure to win a Grand Slam and another missed opportunity to get to the WTA number 1 spot. Too cruel for Simona? We shall see. In either case, Johanna Konta is the other notable competitor in this quarter. Her job is much easier from the top of the bracket. Unless there’s a game-changing upset somewhere along the way, Sloane Stephens and Dominika Cibulkova are the most likely opponents for her in the third round.
Possible quarterfinal match: Johanna Konta vs. Maria Sharapova
2017 US Open Women’s Singles prediction
Having a look at the US Open draw, it is as open as women’s tennis itself is. I expect Karolina Pliskova, Madison Keys, Caroline Wozniacki and Johanna Konta to have a good run. But all things considered, Garbine Muguruza seems the indisputable favorite to win the 2017 US Open. Muguruza has made some key improvements to her game and mentality, which have allowed her to not only win the Wimbledon, but also score some emphatic wins in the past few months. Wins over players with higher stakes (like Simona Halep), players with much greater experience (like Venus Williams), or players who have peaked in 2017 (like Karolina Pliskova). The only question Muguruza needs to answer to win her second Grand Slam this season and reach the WTA top spot, is whether she can… weather the storm that can be the pressure of being a favorite in tennis. Many have cracked under that kind of pressure, Angelique Kerber (last year’s US Open winner) being a prime example. But something tells me the Spaniard has what it takes.
Now come on US Open, please be worth the incredibly inconvenient hours I’ll have to set my alarm for, in the next 2 weeks!
Featured image: Leonard Zhukovsky
Also check out the ATP and WTA predictions for the 2018 French Open here!