2021 US Open Preview - Women's Draw
This will be the 141st edition of the US Open as we head back to the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre in New York. Although the qualifying rounds have restricted the attendance of fans, we’re expecting a full house for the tournament starting on 30th August. Prior to Naomi Osaka winning here last year, each of the previous five champions lifted the title for the very first time, as only Angelique Kerber had previously lifted a Slam before winning. That trend didn’t continue last year though, with Osaka winning back her 2018 title, and it looks all to play for this time around with a strong field headed for New York. Serve up the winning ace with our preview for the women's US Open draw.
- 33/48 finalists have been seeded since 1997, with 37 being in the top-10 seeds and 26 in the top-four.
- 16/24 winners have been in the top-four seeds.
US Open Contenders
Ash Barty asserted her dominance on the WTA Tour when winning in Cincinnati for the first time this month. The world number one didn’t have an easy run there either, having to beat all of Heather Watson, Victoria Azarenka, Barbora Krejcikova, Angelique Kerber and Jil Teichmann, and she’s going to take some beating this fortnight.
That title takes her to five already this year – her best year yet – and having lost just one of her last 13 matches since the start of that winning run at Wimbledon, she’s the one to beat.
The defending champion, Naomi Osaka, had a slightly easier task last year in winning this title, with only four of the top 10 making it here. Nonetheless, she still managed to win it to our delight having got behind her, but we’re slightly more reserved about her chances this time around. She did win the Australian Open at the start of the season, although having played just 13 matches on the main tour since that title, she’s lacking match fitness and has been very vocal about her struggles off the court.
However, she’s gone W/L16/W at Flushing Meadows over the last three years respectively, while at the hard court Slams as a whole, she’s lost just twice from her 35 such matches since August 2018, so you can’t rule her out.
Aryna Sabalenka currently holds the world number two spot and for a good reason too. She continues to go deep at almost every tournament she enters and having finally advanced past a fourth round of a Slam at Wimbledon when she reached the semi-final, we can finally regard her as a serious contender on the big stage.
She made it to that very same round in Montreal for the Rogers Cup, while she’ll be disappointed with her opening round exit at Cincinnati to Paula Badosa.
The 2020 French Open champion, Iga Swiatek, has reached at least the fourth round of every Slam so far this year, but we’d be concerned of her quality when it gets to the latter stages. She’s just W11-L6 on the hard courts on tour this year, and although she made the L16 at Aussie Open back in January, she didn’t face a single seeded player until she was knocked out by Simona Halep.
You can never count out Karolina Pliskova from a tournament. Although she’s yet to lift a Grand Slam, she has reached the final here before back in 2016, while it was only in July that she reached the Wimbledon final before losing to Barty in a deciding set.
She has two runner-ups and a semi-final from her last four events on the main tour, all of which have been extremely competitive events and we’d be surprised if she didn’t make at least the quarters here for the fourth time in her last six attempts.
You could probably argue that Cori Gauff has been somewhat unfortunate over the last few months dating back to May. Indeed, she’s lost just six times from her 23 matches over that period, as only Iga Switek, Barbora Krejcikova, Anastasija Sevastova, Angelique Kerber, Camila Giorgi and Noami Osaka managed to get the better of her, but interestingly, half those women went on to win that respective tournament when overcoming her.
The 2021 French Open champion, Barbora Krejcikova, has backed that performance up with some deep runs at a handful of tournaments, including another title in Prague. In fact, she’s won 24 of her 27 matches since lifting the Strasbourg title prior to Roland Garros, only losing to Ash Barty (twice) and Olympic champion Belinda Bencic.
Off the back of that form, she has to be in with an exceptional chance this fortnight.
Injuries have plagued Simona Halep this season. She’s completed just nine matches since exiting the Australian Open quarter-finals against Serena Williams. That includes an opening round exit more recently at Rogers Cup and a walkover in the second round in Cincinnati.
Bianca Andreescu has gone just W4-L6 since reaching the final of the Miami Open back in April. That includes just one win from her last five matches, as that sole victory came against 151st ranked Harriet Dart, and she’ll have to see a big transformation in her form if she’s to reach even the second week.
US Open Predictions - Women's Draw
It’s difficult to look past anyone getting the better of world number one Ash Barty. She’s yet to lift this title but that hasn’t exactly stopped recent winners here at Flushing Meadows, and although she’s never advanced past the L16 here, she looks a much more accomplished player now than her last appearance back in 2019.
Naomi Osaka has only lost twice at a hard court Grand Slam over the last three years (W33-L2), winning four of a possible six titles. That record says all you need to know about our reasons for backing her.
Another woman who we think has a great chance is Barbora Krejcikova. Should the draw be kind to the world number nine, it’s difficult to see who can defeat her before the final few rounds. As we mentioned, only Barty and Bencic have beaten her since late May, and we like her chances of being our outsider tip.