Fight for the first racket title
Shortly before the US Open, the title of the first racket of the world returned to Naomi Osaka, who will defend the title of champion of the tournament. True, the Japanese almost lost her leadership in the rating during the tournament in Cincinnati - Ashley Barty again had a chance to break ahead, but she lost to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the semifinals.
In New York, the struggle between the girls for the honorary title will unfold again, and the ball will be on the side of the Australian tennis player. She doesn't have to defend as many points as Osaka. A year ago, Barty reached only the fourth round. Reaching the quarterfinals, the Roland Garros champion will definitely be higher than Osaka in two weeks.
Barty still has another rival - the current third number in the rating of Carolina Plishkova, which did not allow her to go further in the tournament bracket last year. If the Australian meets her, then she can return the title of the first racket only in case of victory. Barty has a small margin in relation to Plishkova, so from the second week she will need to perform at least no worse.
Another athlete claims for leadership in the world ranking. Simone Halep has a small chance to return to the top. But only victory in the tournament will help her, Barty’s departure to the semifinals and Plishkova to the final. If Halep nevertheless achieves his goal, he will at the same time pass the selection for the final WTA tournament. Barty enough for this exit in the quarterfinals. The remaining girls will not be able to pass the qualification threshold during the US Open.
The elite of women's tennis before the US Open did not shine very much. The main test for the girls were the tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati, but both of them brought surprises. The winner of the first was the 19-year-old Canadian Bianca Andreescu, the second - American Madison Keys. At the same time, all the most powerful athletes, including the above-mentioned applicants for the title of the first racket of the world, went to the courts.
However, Andreescu’s victory can be called a sensational very conditional. She has already shown what she is capable of at the Indiana Wells spring tournament, having won one of the most prestigious titles. Since then, she was worried about injuries, and therefore the young tennis player did not shine on the last two Grand Slams. Her return took place in Toronto, where she beat including Naomi Osaka. At the US Open, Canada received the 15th seeding number and can meet with Simone Halep in the fourth round.
If you consider Kis as your favorite, you need to remember that on the way to the title in Cincinnati, she marked only a victory over Halep, and the sorties of Barty, Osaka and Plishkova were the work of other tennis players. In New York, Keyes is likely to meet with the fifth seeded Elina Svitolina, and before that with another young talent - Sophia Kenin from the USA, semi-finalist of Toronto and Cincinnati. Keyes will probably have to open the second week with a match with Plishkova, and this could be the meeting of the two best tennis players who have not yet won Grand Slam tournaments.
The draw was most lucky for the WTA leader. Osaka hit one quarter with Kiki Bertens, Arina Sobolenko and Belinda Bencic. If the first two can even boast of reaching the finals over the past month and a half, then the Swiss has long been barely holding on to the number of seeded athletes.
The tournament path for Barty seems much more complicated. In the third round, she can get the Greek Maria Sakkari, who this season beat five rivals from the top 10. The Australian defeated her in Cincinnati, but the match turned out to be extremely stubborn. Following Barty can meet Angelica Kerber, Anastasia Sevastova and Serena Williams. And these matches will not be easy either, and only the semi-final will be at stake.
Williams' new attempt a year after the scandal
Serena Williams will once again, for the seventh time, try to storm Margaret Court's record for the number of individual titles in Grand Slam tournaments before and after the start of the Open Era. The American indicator stopped at around 23 — the last time she won the Australian Open in 2017. Three times the American was one step away from achieving her goal, but all three times she was defeated in the finals.
Especially offensive for her was to be the failure that happened a year ago. The decisive match against Naomi Osaki was remembered not by the debut victory of the Japanese tennis player, but by a referee scandal involving Williams. During the match, the ex-first racket of the world accused the judge on the tower of Carlos Ramos of prejudice, who first warned her for breaking the rules, and then fined him for a point and a game.
During the season, Ramos was no longer assigned to matches with Williams. This will not happen on US Open. Although this information is not officially distributed, the tournament organizers confirmed to The New York Times. The referee will also not appear in games involving Venus Williams.
The first test for the younger Williams will be Maria Sharapova. Two former US Open champions have not met on the court since January 2016, although they had a chance to face off at Roland Garros - 2018, but then the American starred because of an injury. In addition, this will be the first meeting at the US Open.
Although Sharapova recently has not achieved significant success, for Williams it will still be a difficult test. But in general, the 23-fold winner of the majors is in pretty good shape at the moment. In August, she reached the final of the tournament in Toronto, where she starred due to injury.
Without seeded Russians
At the current US Open, no one was included in the list of seeded participants from the Russians. For girls, this happened for the first time after Wimbledon 2000. Since the number of players with priority at the draw of Grand Slam tournaments has increased from 16 to 32, there have never been such incidents.
The alarm bell that in the near future none of the Russians would have sowing sounded at the Wimbledon tournament, when only Daria Kasatkina turned out to be number 29. But she could not defend points for the quarter-finals and soon found herself in the fifth ten of the WTA ranking, where Ekaterina Alexandrova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are already located. None of them earned as many points during their first North American tournaments to climb the top 32.
In addition to the aforementioned trinity, Veronika Kudermetova, Margarita Gasparyan, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Potapova, Maria Sharapova, Anna Blinkova and Natalya Vikhlyantseva automatically made their way into the main draw. Following the qualifications, Anna Kalinskaya joined them.
After Wimbledon, almost none of the Russians pleased with decent results on hard. The exception unexpectedly was Kuznetsova, who reached the finals of the Premiere in Cincinnati, where Madison Keys blocked her path to the title. At the same time, the 34-year-old athlete won two matches in Toronto, which allowed her to make a jump of more than 100 places in the ranking after a missed tournament in Washington. At the moment, it is Kuznetsova who is the best Russian tennis player compared to the rest. At the US Open, a Russian woman was lucky with her first seeded rival - she might be Sloan Stevens, whom Kuznetsova had recently defeated, giving her only three games.
At the same time, Potapova’s working capacity cannot be noted. An 18-year-old athlete this season constantly has to make her way through qualifications, and often she copes with this task. After Wimbledon, she won a total of 12 matches, even if it did not bring her a big leap in the ranking. This season, Potapova at each Grand Slam tournament went into the second round, and at the US Open she will try not to stop there. She has a chance to continue the series - in the first round, the Russian woman went to 15-year-old Coco Goff.
The lot of other Russian tennis players will not be envied. Already in the first round, Blinkov will meet with Osaka, Kasatkina - with the 16th seeded Johanna Contoy, Vikhlyantsev - with the 26th number Julia Gerges, Alexandrova - with the Australian tennis veteran Samantha Stosur.
Anisimova's refusal due to the death of her father
The US Open will miss one of Amanda Anisimova, one of the main rising stars of this season. A 17-year-old American woman of Russian origin withdrew from the tournament due to the death of her father and coach Konstantin Anisimov. He died suddenly due to a heart attack. His daughter was supposed to perform in New York under the 24th sowing number.
This season, Anisimova became one of the main rising stars of women's tennis. A native of Florida, who was born there three years after the family moved from Russia, reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and the semi-finals of Roland Garros, thanks to which she rose to 23rd place in the WTA rating. True, after Wimbledon, Anisimova began to pursue health problems, because of which she withdrew from tournaments in Toronto and Cincinnati. She was preparing to take part in the home tournament of the Grand Slam, which she won in juniors, but could no longer speak at it.