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US OPEN

Who are the favorites in the women’s bracket at the 2022 US Open? Swiatek, Gauff, Halep, Raducanu

One of the strongest draws at a major in recent memory features the entire WTA top 20, who will all be gunning for Iga Swiatek.

Update:
Strong WTA field in New York leaves US Open title wide open
Sarah StierGetty

The men’s draw at the 2022 US Open is missing some big names – Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Alex Zverev will all be absent – but the tournament organizers are no doubt delighted with the women’s field this year in what is one of the most open draws in recent memory. The entire current top 20 in the WTA rankings will be present and correct at Flushing Meadows and pretty much any of them can be considered a contender for the crown, with the added draw for fans of the opportunity to see Serena Williams in her final tournament before retirement (and indeed Venus, who has also been handed a wildcard). The sisters will also compete in doubles at this year’s tournament.

Swiatek slump opens the door to challengers

Iga Swiatek goes into the tournament as world number one and the nominal favourite but the Pole has not enjoyed the second half of the year as much as the first. During the clay court season the 21-year-old capped an extraordinary winning streak with the title at Roland Garros after successes in Rome, Stuttgart, Miami, Indian Wells and Doha, the first three of those six titles coming on hard courts. But since her 37-match winning streak – the longest run since the turn of the century - came to end at Wimbledon chinks in the Pole’s armour have appeared with losses to Caroline Garcia (QF), Beatriz Haddad Maia (R16) and Madison Keys (R16) leading into the US Open. Swiatek will probably face 2017 champion Sloane Stephens, a player capable of beating anyone on her day, in the second round and is projected to meet 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in the fourth.

Home hopes are plentiful at Flushing Meadows with Jessica Pegula – a potential quarter-final opponent for Swiatek – Coco Gauff, Danielle Collins, Keys, Amanda Anisimova, Alison Riske-Amritraj and Shelby Rogers all among the 32 seeded players. All eyes will be on Serena Williams and it would be quite the fairy tale in New York should the 40-year-old go out with the biggest of bangs by matching Margaret Court’s 24 Grand Slam titles but the form book – a second round loss in Toronto against Belinda Bencic and a first-round defeat in Cincinnati by Emma Raducanu - suggests she may struggle to make the second week.

Coco Gauff during a practice session on Arthur Ashe Stadium.
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Coco Gauff during a practice session on Arthur Ashe Stadium.Tim Clayton - CorbisGetty

Coco Gauff handed a tough draw

Gauff will be expected to be in the mix in the latter stages, the world number 12 having reached a maiden Grand Slam final at the French Open earlier this year, but the teenager is in a treacherous section of the draw that cold throw up Keys or Camila Giorgi in round three, Cincinnati champion Garcia in round four and Simona Halep in the quarters. The Romanian world number seven has only been past the fourth round at the US Open twice, in 2015 and 2016, but beat Haddad Maia in Toronto for a first WTA 1000 title in two years and is now under the tutelage of Williams’ former coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Among the rest of the top 10 seeds Paula Badosa stands out as a possible contender. Born in New York, the Spanish world number four has been steadily improving and won at Indian Wells in 2021, where she also reached the semis this year. The 24-year-old won the title in Sydney at the beginning of the year and had runs to the quarters in Miami and the semis in Stuttgart but she has only once featured in the second week of a slam, at Roland Garros last year. Her all-out baseline game is suited to hard courts and Badosa has landed in a section of the draw where she is not projected to meet another seed until a potential fourth-round match-up against Victoria Azarenka with Aryna Sabalenka (6) a possible quarter-final opponent.

Daria Kasatkina’s wonderful variety was on full display in a run to the semis at Roland Garros and she is also in a kind section of the draw but projected to meet Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur in the quarters.

Raducanu repeat unlikely

And what of the reigning champion, world number 11 Raducanu? Last year’s shock winner has not been able to replicate her remarkable success last year and the 2021 US Open remains her only senior title to date. Quarter-final runs at Stuttgart and Washington punctuated a season of ups and downs that includes second round losses at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon.

In New York, Raducanu may not even get that far. The British number one has been drawn against Alizé Cornet, the player who brought Swiatek’s 37-game winning streak to an end at Wimbledon and who will set a new record of featuring in the main draw at 63 consecutive Grand Slams stretching back to 2006. Raducanu couldn’t have landed a much tougher first-round assignment but she does come into the tournament on the back of a little bit of history herself after becoming the first player to bagel both Serena Williams and Azarenka in Cincinnati.

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