After almost seven months Grand Slam tennis is back. For better or for worse, the 2020 US Open will go ahead as scheduled though with no fans present and several high profile WTA players choosing to skip the event, leaving the Women’s Singles event with a highly unusual feel coming into the tournament.
Bianca Andreescu will not be returning to defend her title, with world number one Ashleigh Barty and world number two Simona Halep also amongst the absentees. With Barty and Halep missing it is world number three and former US Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova who is the top seed in New York, with Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin seeded second.
Following further top ten absences world number nine Serena Williams, chasing a 24th slam title, will be seeded third with 2018 champion Naomi Osaka the fourth seed. Aryna Sabalenka is seeded fifth at Flushing Meadows, with Petra Kvitova seeded sixth and Madison Keys seeded seventh. Petra Martic rounds out the top eight seeds.
The singles draw will begin on Monday with the Women’s final taking place on September 12th. The winner will claim 2000 ranking points and a Grand Slam title like no other.
Projected Q/F: (1st) Karolina Pliskova vs (8th) Petra Martic
In a draw full of open sections, this is perhaps the most open of them all. Pliskova will be hunting for a first Grand Slam title but could come up against Caroline Garcia in round two, Top Seed Open champion and 28th seed Jennifer Brady in round three, and then 13th seed Alison Riske or 17th seed Angelique Kerber in round four; Kerber beat Pliskova in the final four years ago, and rather comes in as an unknown quantity having not played the Western & Southern Open.
Martic is not in a bad mini section though has never had too much success on hard courts. The Croatian may come up against 30th seed and former quarterfinalist Kristina Mladenovic in round three and then former French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova in round four. The ever dangerous Aliaksandra Sasnovich could also prove to be a factor in this mini section.
Prediction: Brady def Mladenovic
Projected Q/F: (3rd) Naomi Osaka vs (6th) Petra Kvitova
There may be one or two doubts hanging over Osaka following her withdrawal from yesterday’s Western & Southern Open final, though the Japanese is still seen as a strong contender for the title here. Osaka could face Camila Giorgi in round two and Coco Gauff in round three, though the tennis she displayed recently should propel her past both. A fourth round against 14th seed Anett Kontaveit, who she narrowly beat earlier this week, could be an entertaining battle. Kontaveit has a tough opener against Danielle Collins.
The US Open is the only slam where Kvitova has not reached the last four though the Czech has a kind draw early on. The sixth seed’s first real test could come against Jessica Pegula in round three, and then her projected fourth round opponent is 11th seed Elena Rybakina. The Kazakh was one of the form players prior to the suspension of the WTA Tour and, assuming she makes it past Dayana Yastremska in round three, could cause trouble.
Prediction: Osaka def Rybakina
Projected Q/F: (7th) Madison Keys vs (3rd) Serena Williams
An all-American quarterfinal clash as projected would be a dream outcome for the tournament and Keys certainly has a nice draw in the opening couple of rounds. Jill Teichmann in round two is likely to be her biggest test on the way to the second week, where she is set to face tenth seed Garbine Muguruza. The Spaniard has not played since the restart but has a kind draw up until this projected fourth round clash, and will be dangerous if she builds up any momentum.
Williams’ quest for a 24th slam title is one of the main talking points of the tournament, and after looking far from her best earlier this week and in Lexington, the third seed has almost an ideal draw to get a few good matches in her belt. Kristie Ahn and then most likely Monica Puig are her first two opponents, with struggling 26th seed Sloane Stephens projected after that. A rematch against 15th seed Maria Sakkari, who beat her a few days ago, would be interesting.
Prediction: Muguruza def S. Williams
Projected Q/F: (5th) Aryna Sabalenka vs (2nd) Sofia Kenin
The only time Sabalenka has made the second week at a slam came at the event two years ago, though the Belorussian has a tough draw here. Compatriot and seemingly rejuvenated Victoria Azarenka is her likely second round opponent with Veronika Kudermetova a potential third round opponent for the winner of that. Also looming is ninth seed Johanna Konta who herself looked very solid this past week in New York; the Brit could face the winner of an intriguing opening round match between Karolina Muchova and Venus Williams in the third round.
Kenin was the only woman to win two singles titles prior to the suspension and the Australian Open champions hopes of an epic season were rather thwarted by the enforced break. The American does not have too kind a draw with 27th seed Ons Jabeur, in the form of her career, her likely third round opponent. 16th seed Elise Mertens was a quarterfinalist at Flushing Meadows last summer and, after a strong run to the last four this past week, will be a danger in the fourth round.
Prediction: Konta def Mertens
Osaka def Brady
Muguruza def Konta
Osaka def Muguruza