Women’s US Open action is here! Tennis expert Andy Schooler has gone through the brackets and picked out his best bets.
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World ranking: 1
Tournament history (most recent 1st): 4R, 3R, 2R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 2020 & 2022 French Open
2022 record: 50-7 (6 titles – French Open, Rome, Stuttgart, Miami, Indian Wells, Doha)
Hardcourt form: L16 Cincinnati, L16 Toronto
It was only last month that the world number one headed into a Wimbledon third-round match on a 37-match winning streak but it feels a lot longer ago than that now. Swiatek lost to Alize Cornet that day and, as was the case in SW19, she’s failed to put three successive wins together at three more tournaments. Having conquered all on hardcourts as well as he favoured clay by winning Indian Wells and Miami earlier in the year, Swiatek’s aura of invincibility has been quick to crumble. With slick Laykold courts under foot in New York, the Pole looks an opposable favourite.
World ranking: 7
Tournament history (most recent 1st): 4R, 2R, 1R, 1R, QF, SF, 3R, 4R, 2R, 2R, 1R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 2019 Wimbledon & 2018 French Open
2022 record: 39-10 (2 titles – Toronto, Melbourne)
Hardcourt form: L32 Cincinnati, W Toronto, L16 Washington
The former Wimbledon champion underlined her US Open title credentials with victory at the recent warm-up event in Toronto where she beat Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula, among others. However, the Romanian has a pretty poor record in New York (only one semi-final appearance in 11 visits). The other concern for potential backers is her injury record over the last couple of years. Now in her 30s, Halep’s body hasn’t been particularly resilient and that was in evidence again in Cincinnati only last week where a thigh injury resulted in her withdrawal. Perhaps that was largely precautionary following her run in Toronto and this looming event but it has to be considered by those looking to back her.
World ranking: 44
Tournament history (most recent 1st): 3R, W, 4R, W, 3R, 3R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 4 times
2022 record: 13-8 (0 titles)
Hardcourt form: L64 Cincinnati, L64 Toronto, L16 San Jose
If ever there were a player being priced up on past success, it’s Osaka, who comes into the tournament having lost her last three matches and without a title in 18 months. Yet the reason she’s third favourite is still fairly obvious – Osaka has won four of the last eight Grand Slam events played on a hardcourt, including two here in New York. At her top level, Osaka is arguably the best player in the world but such tennis has rarely been seen in the last year and a half with the Japanese having endured a series of problems, both on and off the court. Maybe she can flick the switch here but it seems highly unlikely.
World ranking: 25
Tournament history (most recent 1st): 3R, 2R, 1R
Best Grand Slam performance: Winner, 2022 Wimbledon
2022 record: 32-15 (1 title – Wimbledon)
Hardcourt form: QF Cincinnati, L32 Toronto, L32 San Jose
Rybakina was a big-priced winner of Wimbledon where her serve – one of the biggest in the women’s game – proved a serious weapon. It could do so again in New York, although her game seems less well-suited to the hardcourts. The Kazakh’s lead-in results haven’t been bad but defeats to Daria Kasatkina, Coco Gauff and Madison Keys show she’s probably a little short of being able to beat the very best on this surface.
World ranking: 12
Tournament history (most recent 1st): 2R, 1R, 3R
Best Grand Slam performance: Runner-up, 2022 French Open
2022 record: 30-16 (0 titles)
Hardcourt form: L64 Cincinnati, QF Toronto, QF San Jose
Gauff emerged at a very young age – she was just 15 when she defeated Venus Williams at Wimbledon in 2019 – and she’s been touted as the future of the women’s game almost ever since. Yet more than three years down the line, she’s only won two tour-level titles, the last of which was in May 2021. OK, she’s still only 18, so the word ‘only’ may come across as a bit harsh but for the ‘next big thing’ I’d suggest that’s a slightly disappointing return. Gauff is undoubtedly highly talented – as she showed when reaching the final at Roland Garros this season – but she’s also a player who has admitted struggling to deal with expectations in the past. After an inauspicious build-up, I’m in no hurry to back teenage home hope.
Best of the rest
After Emma Raducanu’s unprecedented US Open success as a qualifier last year, we all want to find the next 400/1 winner.
Of course, that’s unlikely to be repeated any time soon, although there’s also a strong argument to suggest this is one of the most wide-open Grand Slam tournaments of the Open Era with no fewer than 19 players offered at odds of 25/1 or shorter.
It’s either a potential minefield or a land of opportunity, depending on your viewpoint!
For those seeking mid-market value, Jessica Pegula could offer some.
The American, whose parents own the Buffalo Bills NFL team, made the semis in Toronto and the last eight in Cincinnati, losing to the eventual champion on both occasions.
Those results built on some strong hardcourt performances earlier in the season, which included a quarter-final run at the Australian Open and a semi-final appearance in Miami.
With not too many of those above her in the market flowing with confidence right now, Pegula has potential at 25/1.
Caroline Garcia is another who has enjoyed some strong form in recent times, most notably last week in Cincinnati where she won the title as a qualifier.
It was her third WTA title in as many months and the Frenchwoman, once famously touted as a future world number one by Andy Murray, looks in great nick.
The question now is ‘has the value gone?’ Not surprisingly given the openness of the tournament, her odds were slashed due to her efforts in Ohio and she’s now into 20/1.
Finally, Daria Kasatkina is worth more than a passing mention.
She beat a strong field to win in San Jose earlier this month, defeating both Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka en route to the title.
Kasatkina has won plenty of matches this season and her previous Grand Slam results show she’s only lost to world number one Swiatek at the Australian Open and in the French Open semis. As a Russian, she was unable to play at Wimbledon.
40/1 about her chances here may be worth a punt.