With Wimbledon over, we’re only a few short weeks away from the last grand slam of the year. The warm-up tournaments haven’t been played yet, so we’re not exactly sure what kind of shape the competitors are in, but thankfully Wimbledon generally gives us a good idea of what we can expect. For a more detailed view, check out the Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Open, as a lot of top players use those tournaments to get ready for Flushing Meadows.
For a more detailed view, check out the Rogers Cup and Western & Southern Open, as a lot of top players use those tournaments to get ready for Flushing Meadows.
The biggest stories of the upcoming tournament are probably Maria Sharapova’s return and Serena Williams’ continued absence. The latter changes the whole face of the tournament, and the former will probably attract a great deal of media coverage and hand-wringing. In our preview of the Men’s Draw, we set odds on John McEnroe saying something silly to draw attention to himself and his new book (in stores now!), and my money is on a searingly hot Sharapova that ultimately comes to naught when she loses in the third round.
The defending Wimbledon champion is the favorite to win at Flushing Meadows, and some sportsbooks are going as short as 6/1. Muguruza had a fantastic tournament at Wimbledon, bullying her opponents off the court with powerful groundstrokes. Her match against Venus Williams in the final was particularly impressive. After winning a close first set, Muguruza pressured Williams into 25 unforced errors, the first set she’s lost 6-0 in her slam career. Muguruza lost one set in the whole tournament, to #1 seed Angelique Kerber, and flattened everyone else.
The 23-year-old Venezuelan demonstrated great versatility in grand slams, winning the French Open last year, and Wimbledon this year. The capacity to win on both of those surfaces points to a capacity to win on anything in between, and Muguruza’s meteoric game.
Odds to win US Open: 7/1
Despite a disappointing outing at Wimbledon, Karolina Pliskova has had a great year. She won the Wimbledon warm-up tournament at Eastbourne, made the semi-final at the French Open, and overall played well enough to steal the #1 ranking from Angelique Kerber. She’s one of the favorites to win the US Open. She beat Serena Williams to make the final last year and only lost (in three sets) to incoming #1 Kerber. She hasn’t produced any huge results yet, but she’s consistently playing at a high enough level to be a contender at the Open.
Pliskova’s not hugely ahead in points, a mere 185 in front of Simona Halep, who defends 970 fewer at the US Open. To hold onto her #1 ranking, Pliskova will have to soundly beat Halep at Flushing Meadows and not cede much ground in the warm-up tournaments.
Odds to win US Open: 7/1
Odds to keep #1 ranking: 7/3
Angelique Kerber has had a tough season since being named #1 in 2016. Her title defense at the Australian Open ended in the fourth round, winning only five games from Coco Vandeweghe. At the French Open, she earned the dubious title of being the first WTA #1 to be eliminated in the first round. Her grass court season consisted of losing to Johanna Konta at Eastbourne and Muguruza at Wimbledon, the latter in a bizarre match in which Kerber actually won more points but lost by neglecting to campaign in Wisconsin, or something.
Kerber is listed at 9/1 because she’s (ostensibly) the third best tennis player in the world and the defending champion of this event. However, her 2017 season is one that points to serious struggles with form, and while we’re certain Kerber will return to her winning ways at some point, we’re hesitant to bet on it to happen here.
Odds to win US Open: 9/1
Odds to slide from the #3 spot on the rankings: 3/2
Coming off a 15-month anti-doping ban, Maria Sharapova hopes to reinstate herself as a staple on the tour. Making a big run at the US Open would go a long way for Sharapova, but I’m not sure about these odds. The 30-year-old last won a hard-court slam in 2008 and hasn’t made it past the semi-final at the US Open since 2006. It’s not that she’s a bad player, but this price is all name recognition and wishful thinking. She’s not twice as likely to win as Venus Williams and Jelena Ostapenko, although that’s what these lines would have you believe.
Odds to win US Open: 9/1
Odds to dominate the coverage of the tournament: 1/4
In contrast to Sharapova and Kerber, Simona Halep is a young player without huge name recognition (although her French Open finals appearances helped a great deal) and the form to be a real threat at the US Open. Halep’s yet to win a grand slam, though she’s made three quarter-finals and one finals in her last five times out, and won a Premier Mandatory as recently as May.
As a baseliner, albeit an aggressive baseliner, Halep’s game is a little better suited to clay courts than other surfaces, but not in a way that precludes her from winning on DecoTurf. She’s only a handful of points behind Pliskova in the WTA rankings, and defends significantly fewer at the US Open. If the two have comparable tournaments, Halep will become the 24th woman to be ranked #1 in the world.
Odds to win US Open: 10/1
Odds to become world #1: 3/7
Jelena Ostapenko, who defeated Halep in a thriller French Open final, is looking to extend her dream season. The 20-year-old would be forgiven for suffering a slam hangover, she certainly earned it, but her form since Roland Garros seems to have stayed pretty consistent. She lost the Eastbourne tournament to #5 seed Johanna Konta, and made the quarter-finals at Wimbledon before falling to the (seemingly) unstoppable Venus Williams.
Ostapenko is listed at 20/1, which is far better value than some of the big names on this list. She’s a strong, young player, who’s proven that she can win slams in 2017. This might be the smart money.
Odds to win US Open: 20/1
Venus Williams has displayed incredible form on fast courts this year, making the finals at the Australian Open and Wimbledon. Her run to the Wimbledon final was fearsome, and her disappointing performance in the final, uncharacteristic. It’s easy to forget how good Williams really is, she often gets lost in her sister’s shadow, and it’s hard to wrap my head around a player who has made two slam finals in the last year being listed at 20/1.
There’s a lot of hand-wringing going on about whether or not Venus can still win slams, but it’s largely nonsense. She’s proven that she’s still good enough to make finals and compete, and isn’t far from getting over that final threshold.
Odds to win US Open: 20/1
Odds to make third grand slam final of 2017 (for the first time since 2002): 6/1
Photo credit: Tim Wang (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/deed.en)
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