ANOTHER title for Serena? Mark Stinchcombe (@markstinchcombe) previews the Women's draw in the US Open for us.
US Open | Women's Outright Winner | 31st August – 13th September 2015
Serena Williams enters the tournament as odds on favourite having won all three slams and 50 of her 54 matches this year, including 25 of her 26 hard court matches.
She could have wished for an easier section though having been drawn in the same quarter as all of Coco Vandweghe, Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Agnieszka Radwanska, Belinda Bencic, sister Venus, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Karolina Pliskova.
The second best player in 2015 Simona Halep is in the other half of the draw and looks a good each way value bet at 12/1. She's won 31 of her 35 hard court matches this year including winning Indian Wells, Dubai and Shezhen. She made the finals of both Cincinnati and Toronto before succumbing to Serena and Bencic, both of whom are obviously in quarter one.
Second favourite Victoria Azarenka is one to avoid with injury concerns after retiring last week barely able to walk after her heavily strapped left leg proved too painful to play. She still also isn't quite back to her best after previous injury lay-offs.
Another woman who's suffering is Petra Kvitova, albeit with illness having been diagnosed with mononucleosis. Despite her recent diagnosis she still impressively won New Haven over the weekend.
However, Kvitova failed to make the second week at the Australian Open, Roland Garros or Wimbledon and was forced to pull out of events in Indian Wells and Miami due to fatigue, so after last week to follow two weeks of slam winning tennis is a big ask.
18 year-old Belinda Bencic has had a fantastic summer. After making the final on the grass of Hertogenbosch, she won her first WTA title in Eastbourne beating some impressive players. She then proceeded to win Toronto beating world number 3 Halep, number 1 Serena, number 6 Ana Ivanovic, number 24 Sabine Lisicki, number 5 Caroline Wozniacki and number 25 Eugenie Bouchard in the space of a week. Wow.
On her debut here as a 17 year-old last year she made the quarter finals and in the same section as Serena, I think she's a sensible each alternative at 22/1.
Last year's finalist Caroline Wozniacki will probably go deep being in quarter three but is always likely to come unstuck against the top players and has already suffered defeats to Azarenka, Kvitova and Bencic this summer alone without taking a set.
Stanford winner Angelique Kerber is possibly a touch overpriced at 40/1 but defeats since to Bencic and Halep, in which Kerber has been in drawn in the same quarter with (0-3 H2H), and only going beyond the fourth round once are negatives.
French Open runner-up Lucie Safarova is another who potentially looks a big price at 50/1 in Halep's quarter but has suffered four disappointing losses since when priced as decent odds on favourite. Never going beyond the fourth round and her 15-8 record on hard courts this year don't make for pretty reading.
Other outsiders worth discussing are Timea Bacsinszky, Ekaterina Makarova and Daria Gavrilova. French Open semi-finalist and Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bacsinszky has failed to replicate that form with 1st round exits in all three of the hard court tournaments she played this summer and could be vulnerable against Barbora Strycova in the opening round.
Semi-finalist last year as well at the Australian Open at the beginning of the year, Kate is another who's failed to maintain her form losing six of her last 13 hard court matches.
Gavrilova burst onto the scenes when defeating Maria Sharapova in straight sets in Miami then going on to make the semi's of Rome, however it's been a disappointing summer swing suffering early exits in all five hard court tournaments.
US Open Women's Draw – Simona Halep each way (12/1 William Hill)
US Open Women's Draw – Belinda Bencic each way (25/1 Sportingbet)
He stormed to a Wimbledon win in July and now new customers to Coral can back him at 10/1 to win the US Open.