2021 US Open women's draw preview
Barty and Osaka last met in 2019. Will they meet this year with a US Open on the line? (Zhe Ji/Getty Images)

The final major of the year and plenty of headlines come around on the women's side. Will anyone claim two majors this year? Will Naomi Osaka continue her hard court dominance? How will Belinda Bencic fare in a first major after Olympic gold? Will Ashleigh Barty continue to dominate?

The US Open will answer some of these headlines but which woman will stand on top of the mountain at the end of the two weeks.

Barty's Quarter

After a shock first-round exit at the Olympics following her Wimbleton title, the world number one once again asserted her dominance on top of the women's game with a convincing tournament at the Western and Southern Open.

The world number one did not drop a set en route to the title with Heather Watson being the closest to taking one off of her after going the distance in set two of her opening match.

She opens up against a seasoned veteran like Vera Zvonareva and could potentially face Clara Tauson in round two. The Dane won two titles this year, with her most recent one in Chicago, taking her to a career-high ranking of 78.

With the likes of Jennifer Brady or Karolina Muchova likely awaiting in the round of 16, the Australian will have to be sure she's firing on all cylinders early on. Muchova has made her name by being able to make deep runs in majors this year. Outside of the French Open where she lost in the third round, both her exits have come in the semifinals and quarterfinals respectively.

In her last two hard court majors, Brady made the semifinals and the finals. She lost to Osaka in the last four in New York last year before losing out to her in the Australian Open final this year. In terms of draws, this was not kind to Barty, but she is definitely always one who can handle the challenge well.

Iga Swiatek is the other top seed in this part of the draw and isn't coming to New York in the best form. However, her last two losses come have come at the hands of Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur, two women who are quite troublesome to play on any given day.

Belinda Bencic is coming off a run at the Olympics where she won gold and followed it up with a trip to the last eight in Cincinnati. Meanwhile, Jessica Pegula is one of the form players from this summer, and Annet Kontaveit took the title in Cleveland in one of the last warmup events before the Open.

Barty may be the favorite for this section, but she'll have to get through a gauntlet to survive it.

Quarterfinals: Barty vs Swiatek

Semifinalist: Barty

First Round Matches To Watch For: Ashleigh Barty vs Vera Zvonareva, Su-Wei Hsieh vs Claire Liu, Emma Raducanu vs Jennifer Brady, Anastasia Potapova vs Jessica Pegula, Annet Kontaveit vs Sam Stosur

Barty looks to continue a dominant summer with a US Open title (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Barty looks to continue a dominant summer with a US Open title (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Pliskova's Quarter

Karolina Pliskova has enjoyed a resurgent summer with a Wimbledon final then back-to-back great results at the National Bank Open (final) and the Western and Southern Open (semifinal). She looks to carry this good string of play into the US Open, where she was runner-up back in 2016.

She'll be the favorite in her part of the draw, but the likes of Paula Badosa and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova are there. With not too many form players as potential quarterfinal opponents, you'd have to look at Petra Kvitova as the favorite to play her compatriot in the last eight. Even when she's lost, she has lost to players who have gone on to win or make deep runs in both Canada and Cincinnati. And of course, when Kvitova gets rolling, she's as hard as it comes when trying to defeat her.

2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu is the projected quarterfinal opponent for Pliskova, but with not much tennis under her belt since her return from injury, she will be the biggest wildcard due to her health history and general rust. If she can find some semblance of form, she'll be a threat not only in this quarter, but to win it all.

Quarterfinals: Pliskova vs Kvitova

Semifinalist: Pliskova

First Round Matches To Watch For: Karolina Pliskova vs Caty McNally, Alison Riske vs Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Marta Kostyuk vs Maria Sakkari

Pliskova's serve has always been one of her best weapons (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Pliskova's serve has always been one of her best weapons (Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

Osaka's Quarter

Defending champion Naomi Osaka looks to shake off a tough summer so far from her in hopes of continuing her reign of the hard courts. She has already won the 2021 Australian Open, marking a fourth consecutive hard court major for her.

After coming out and saying she won't burden herself on other people's standards, the Japanese number one may have reinvigorated herself just in time to defend her crown. Like Barty, Osaka will have to work her way through what will be a crowded draw with players who are peaking at the right time.

Although she lucked out to not have drawn Kaia Kanepi in the first round until the Estonian gets knocked out, the threat of her looms large as she is known for her scalps in majors.

Angelique Kerber is coming off back-to-back semifinals at Wimbledon and the Western and Southern Open, and Coco Gauff has beaten Osaka in a major before as these two women are Osaka's draws for a  round of 16 showdown.

The top part of this draw is just as loaded with National Bank Open champion Camila Giorgi coming in as an unseeded threat for Simona Halep as the Romanian slowly plays herself back into match fitness after a long injury layoff.

Daria Kasatkina has enjoyed a resurgent 2021 after struggling to find results over the last few years. Elena Rybakina is a major player who turns up for majors even if her leadup results aren't the best, Elina Svitolina won a title in Chicago after winning bronze at the Olympics, and Olympic silver medalist Marketa Vondrousova is another unseeded threat potentially.

Quarterfinals: Osaka vs Rybakina

Semifinalist: Osaka

First Round Matches To Watch For: Elina Svitolina vs Rebecca Marino, Camila Giorgi vs Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber vs Dayana Yastremska

Osaka looks to rediscover her best form (Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)
Osaka looks to rediscover her best form (Icon Sportswire/Getty Images)

Sabalenka's Quarter

After being known as someone who would falter early in majors. Aryna Sabalenka delivered in a big way by making the semifinals of Wimbledon and even went a set up before going down in three to Pliskova.

She looks ready to show off potential consistency with another run, this time at the US Open. Danielle Collins had one of the best summers of any player this year, holding a 12-match win streak and winning two titles in the process.

Ons Jabeur and Elise Mertens are two women who are the epitome of consistency and should definitely not be overlooked either. For the Belarussian's quarterfinal draw, you'd have to take your pick between Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova.

The Czech has only lost three times since her French Open victory. Twice at the hands of Barty and once more to Bencic, the Olympic gold medalist. So when she loses, it's en route to players winning titles. Both Muguruza and Krejcikova met in Cincinnati with the Czech winning in three sets so expect another good one if they meet.

Quarterfinals: Sabalenka vs Krejcikova

Semifinalist: Krejcikova

First Round Matches To Watch For: Donna Vekic vs Garbine Muguruza, Danielle Collins vs Carla Suarez Navarro, Elise Mertens vs Rebecca Peterson

The Czech looks to add a second major to her tally in 2021 (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
The Czech looks to add a second major to her tally in 2021 (Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

Semifinals and Finals Predictions

Semifinals: Barty def. Pliskova, Osaka def. Krejcikova

Finals: Barty def. Osaka

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