2017 US Open Women’s Preview

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Garbine Muguruza qualifies for Singapore after beating Niculescu in Linz
Spain's Garbine Muguruza reacts during her match against Romania's Monica Niculescu at the Generali Ladies Tennis Tournament in Linz, Austria, on October 13, 2016. / AFP / APA / HELMUT FOHRINGER / Austria OUT (Photo credit should read HELMUT FOHRINGER/AFP/Getty Images)

The year’s final Major gets underway Monday at the US Open as the world’s best players gather in New York. With the absence of both Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka, the draw is once again wide open.

The seeds

1. Karolina Pliskova: Three games from winning the title last year, Pliskova enters this year’s Open as one of the favorites. A strong season with wins in Brisbane, Doha, and Eastbourne and the memories of her run to the final last year leave her in good stead. A poor summer season is holding her back from being the clear favorite.

2. Simona Halep: The Romanian will once again have a chance (for the fourth time this year) to take the #1 ranking. As is the case every time she reaches the later stages of a Slam or can attain the top spot in the rankings, she faces question marks about her ability to close the deal (see the Cincinnati final). Faces a titanic first round matchup against Maria Sharapova.

3. Garbine Muguruza: Her wins at Wimbledon and Cincinnati have made her the favorite. Never one for consistency, the Spaniard is hitting the prime of her powers and a second straight Major looks to be on the cards.

4. Elina Svitolina: She’s been the best player on tour this year with five titles, including three at the Premier level. With an opportunity to gain the top spot in the rankings for the first time, she has to prove she can go far at a Slam (the last remaining step she needs to take in her career).

5. Caroline Wozniacki: A two-time finalist at Flushing Meadows, Wozniacki reached the semifinals out of nowhere last year. Six finals played, six finals lost in 2017. Not a great recipe for success despite her resurgence since last year’s Open.

6. Angelique Kerber: The defending champion has had a terrible year, but the pressure of no longer being #1 should ease some of the burden. A good draw could see her go far again.

7. Johanna Konta: The Wimbledon semifinalist won on the hardcourts of Miami and is among the favorites. A quarterfinalist here last year, a deeper run is certainly possible for the Brit.

8. Svetlana Kuznetsova: The 2004 champion is still hanging in the Top 10 and is in with a chance for her second Open title, but she can easily go out to Marketa Vondrousova in the first round, the consequence of a bad draw.

9. Venus Williams: It’s been a Cinderella 2017 for Venus, having reached the Australian Open and Wimbledon finals, but was outclassed in both. Unfortunately for the elder Williams, Muguruza in the quarterfinals will likely prevent her from making the final weekend here.

10. Agnieszka Radwanska: Reached the semifinals in New Haven, but has done little else. Once a prime contender at any major she played, the Pole reaching the latter stages here would now qualify as a major surprise.

11. Dominika Cibulkova: A final in New Haven is a good sign. A fourth round meeting with Konta is not. Lost to the Brit in Canada.

12. Jelena Ostapenko: A quarterfinal at Wimbledon was a fine follow-up to her shocking win at the French Open. Could reach the semifinals with her explosive firepower. Beat Svitolina in London, who she could see in the quarterfinals.

13. Petra Kvitova: A win in Birmingham was followed up by an early exit at Wimbledon. The Open has never been her favorite Slam, but anything is possible despite being in Muguruza’s section.

14. Kristina Mladenovic: A quarterfinalist in Paris, the Frenchwoman faces a tricky opener against Monica Niculescu. Won’t go past the Round of 16 as Pliskova looms.

15. Madison Keys: Her win in Stanford was a very good sign. A fourth round showdown with Svitolina will be exciting, intriguing, and show just how far the American has come in her second stint with Lindsay Davenport.

16. Anastasija Sevastova: Beat Konta and Muguruza on her way to the quarterfinals last year. Has proven she’s an all-court player and could very easily reach the last eight again.

17. Elena Vesnina: A win in Indian Wells has otherwise masked an average year. Won’t get past Keys or Svitolina.

18. Caroline Garcia: Steadily climbing in the rankings, the Frenchwoman could go far, but is stuck in the same section with Kvitova and Muguruza.

19. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: Her third-round match with Ostapenko will feature plenty of winners and tons of errors. Beat Kerber to win Monterrey earlier this year.

20. Coco Vandeweghe: A disappointing loss to Magdalena Rybarikova in the Wimbledon quarterfinals was followed up with a loss to Keys in Stanford. In a good section, she could go far here.

21. Ana Konjuh: Stunned Radwanska last year to become the youngest Open quarterfinalist in almost a decade. Faces a tough opener against Ashleigh Barty, but did reach the final in Auckland.

22. Shuai Peng: A former Open semifinalist, won her second career title in her home country. Drew Sevastova and Sharapova/Halep in her section.

23. Barbora Strycova: Always entertaining, the fiesty Czech should reach the 16’s. In the same section as Pliskova and Mladenovic.

24. Kiki Bertens: Not much to say for the Dutchwoman. Venus will take her out in the third round.

25. Daria Gavrilova: Won in New Haven and is entering Flushing Meadows with a ton of momentum. Could this be her breakout Slam?

26. Anett Kontaveit: Has had a breakout 2017 with her first two finals and her first title. Could be the latest surprise Slam semifinalist.

27. Shuai Zhang: Doesn’t have a particularly good draw with Sabine Lisicki and Pliskova. Has established herself as a solid Top 30 player.

28. Lesia Tsurenko: Has her highest seeding at a major and should win a few rounds before losing to Kerber or Ostapenko.

29. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni: A magical run to the final four in Melbourne has not translated into the success she hoped for. Wozniacki and Venus in her section doesn’t lend itself to a deep run.

30. Julia Goerges: A strong summer has positioned the dangerous German to do damage in New York. Can she get past Konta and/or Cibulkova?

31. Magdalena Rybarikova: Her semifinal showing at Wimbledon was breathtaking to watch. Sadly, she got stuck with Muguruza in the third round.

32. Lauren Davis: Diminutive American beat Konjuh to win her first title in Auckland. Always punching above her weight, she’ll need all of those skills to beat Halep in the third round.

Best first round matches

Sharapova vs Halep: No explanation is needed as to why this is on this list. The Russian is 6-0 lifetime against Halep.

Elise Mertens vs Keys: The talented young Belgian could pose several problems to the American–she reached the semifinals in New Haven. Will be fun to watch.

Konjuh vs Barty: Hard hitting Croat vs crafty Australian is an intriguing contrast in styles. Should be a long affair.

Kvitova vs Jelena Jankovic: Neither are what they were, but this should still provide the fans with drama. Jankovic beat Kvitova at Wimbledon a few years ago.

Vondrousova vs Kuznetsova: 2004 champ is on major upset alert against the brilliant 18-year old lefty.

Predictions

Semifinals:  Muguruza def. Sharapova, Svitolina def. Kontaveit

Final: Muguruza def. Svitolina

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