It’s only a matter of a couple of days before the US Open gets underway and all the players will be looking forward to put up a good showing at the final Grand Slam of the year. A couple of days ago, the draw came out which featured more than just a few thrilling matchups. In one of my previous articles, I had discussed about the favorites for the Women’s singles tournament.
However, when there is a favorite, there is bound to be a dark horse or in this tournament, quite a few given the amount of upsets that have been caused in the last couple of tournaments. With all the players gearing up for the year’s final major, let’s take a look at five of the dark horses for the Women’s Singles tournament at the US Open.
#5. Petra Kvitova
The two-time Wimbledon Champion had a disappointing start to her year, recording 2-4 in main draw matches for the first couple of months owing to illness. Her poor form continued in the clay court season which propelled her plummet from the top 10 for the first time since 2013.
However, she finally found her form during the Rio Olympics where she eventually won the bronze medal, beating a resilient Madison Keys in a closely contested bronze medal play-off.For the first time since the 2011 Australian Open will Kvitova be seeded outside the Top 10, seeded 14th this time. However, her promising performance at Rio are enough to say that the left-handed Czech will be looking to put up a tough fight at the US Open.
Kvitova’s first round opponent will be Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko who beat her at the Aegon Classic a few months back as well as at the Qatar Open. Kvitova will be expected to make it at least to the fourth round where she’ll be up against hot favorite Angelique Kerber.
Although Kerber’s form has been nothing short of marvelous this year, if Kvitova puts up a performance similar to that of Rio, she is bound to give Kerber a run for her money and maybe even better her all-time US Open performance of reaching the quarter-finals which she achieved last year.
#4. Carla Suarez Navarro
The Spaniard has had a pretty good year so far, having reached a career-high ranking of World No.6 owing to her triumph at the Qatar Open. Navarro’s Grand Slam performances have been decent as well, having reached the quarter-finals of the Australian Open and the fourth round of the French Open and the Wimbledon.
After disappointing performances at the Wimbledon and at the Rio Olympics, Navarro reached the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati masters where she was beaten by eventual runner-up Angelique Kerber.Seeded 11th at the US Open, Navarro will kick start her campaign against 135th ranked Brazilian Teliana Pereira and will most likely face 2008 runner-up in the second round before a possible encounter against Wimbledon semi-finalist Elena Vesnina in the third round.
However, her biggest obstacle in repeating her 2013 performance of reaching the quarter-finals will come in the fourth round where she might face last year’s semi-finalist Simona Halep provided she advances which would possibly setup a quarter-final meeting with World No.1 Serena WIlliams.
Given Navarro’s current form, she will definitely be an opponent to be wary of if she is at the top of her game.
#3. Venus Williams
The two-time US Open champion showed signs of resurgence by reaching the semi-finals of the Wimbledon.
However, she had a disappointing singles performance at Rio as she lost to Belgian Kirsten Flipkens in the opening round. Her doubles performance was really good though, having won the silver medal in the Mixed Doubles tournament alongside Rajeev Ram.Seeded sixth at the tournament, Venus will be facing up against Ukrainian Kateryna Kozlova and will be expected to have a cakewalk till the fourth round where she would face 10th seeded Czech Karolina Pliskova who recently won the Cincinnati Masters, beating Australian Open Champion and World No.2 Angelique Kerber.
A win in the fourth round will most likely pit her against fourth seeded Pole Agnieszka Radwanska. Venus had a lukewarm outing at Rio but if she can replicate her form from the Wimbledon, then she could well be a player to be reckoned with.
#2. Svetlana Kuznetsova
The 2004 Champion has been in resurgent form in the past couple of months. Her recent performances have helped her reach the Top 10 for the first time since 2010. After a disappointing outing at the Australian Open, Kuznetsova bounced back by reaching the final of the Miami Open, beating Serena Williams in the process, her first win over a World No.1 player since the 2009 French Open final.
She has put up a couple of decent performances in the tournaments that have followed.Seeded within the Top 10 for the first time since the 2010 French Open, the ninth seeded Russian will face the 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the first round, playing against whom she recorded the longest Women’s Grand Slam match of all-time at the 2011 Australian Open.
Kuznetsova’s next opponent would be former World No.1 and two-time runner-up Caroline Wozniacki. If Kuznetsova reaches the fourth round, her most likely opponent would be eighth-seeded Madison Keys and a win would most likely setup a quarter-final clash against French Open Champion Garbine Muguruza.
The Russian has been in decent form lately and provided she maintains this form, she might cause an upset or two at the US Open.
#1. Madison Keys
The eighth-seeded American will probably be the biggest dark horse heading into the US Open. After an injury-affected Australian Open, Keys put up a series of strong performances in the clay court season which included reaching the final of the Italian Open and a personal best fourth appearance at the French Open.
She continued her good form in the grass court season as well, winning the Aegon Classic which helped her enter the Top 10 for the first time in her career. After a fourth round outing at Wimbledon, Keys reached the final of the Rogers Cup before reaching the semi-finals of the Rio Olympics.The offensive baseliner will be starting off her US Open campaign against compatriot Riske and will be expected to have a smooth journey till the fourth round where she would be up against the 2004 US Open Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova.
If she betters her fourth round performance of last year, then she would lock horns with French Open winner Garbine Muguruza in the final eight. Keys has been one of the most promising players this year and if she maintains her consistent performances, then she could well be a tough player to beat.