Women’s 2017 US Open Preview

by Chris Scheeren
on August 28, 2017

It’s been a strange year in Women’s Tennis, at least since Serena William’s hiatus from the tour as she was pregnant with her first child.  With the clear and obvious dominant force cleared out of the way temporarily, the tennis world was ripe for the taking.  The problem was, for whom?

Angelique Kerber’s emergent 2016 has been followed up by a nightmarish 2017.  Garbine Muguruza captured the first Major that was previously blocked by Serena in 2016 – but still has some work to do to be considered the true and clear top player.  Simona Halep had a good look at her first Major, only to be stunned by previously-unknown Jelena Ostapenko in the French Final.  Caroline Wozniacki has been solid but seems light years away from her previous World’s #1 Ranking.  Karolina Pliskova is the top seed but doesn’t have a resume of a normal #1, and Johanna Konta was unable to fulfill the Brits dreams at Wimbledon – perhaps she can deliver one tournament later??

There’s a reason why the odds are as erratic as they are for this tournament; there are a lot of really good women in the draw – and none of them is even close to obvious favorite to win the Tournament or even their quarter of the draw.

Here’s a look at the Outright odds for the Women’s side of the US Open.

OUTRIGHT ODDS – 2017 WOMEN’S US OPEN

  • Garbine Muguruza +400
  • Karolina Pliskova +600
  • Johanna Konta +1100
  • Simona Halep +1100
  • Elina Svitolina +1000
  • Madison Keys +1400
  • Angelique Kerber +2000
  • Maria Sharapova +2200
  • Venus Williams +2200
  • Caroline Wozniacki +2200
  • Jelena Ostapenko +2500
  • Coco Vandeweghe +2500
  • Petra Kvitova +2800
  • Sloane Stephens +2800
  • Svetlana Kuznetsova +4000
  • Agnieszka Radwanska +5000
  • Kristina Mladenovic +6600
  • Eugenie Bouchard +10000

Even if you aren’t a die-hard tennis fan, there are few events in sports more fun than the evening matches at the US Open under the bright lights.  It’s going to be a blast, on both the men’s and women’s side of the draw with the most wide-open combined tournament in decades.

As stated above, it’s a crowded field, full of really talented players and devoid of a favorite.  A lot of the value comes down to the draw, so let’s take a look at this year’s bracket, quarter by quarter.

TOP QUARTER:

Top Seeded Players and Notables: (1) Karolina Pliskova, (8) Svetlana Kuznetsova, (10) Agie Radwanska, (14) Kristina Mladenovic, (20) Coco Vandeweghe, Allison Riske

The Favorite: Karolina Pliskova

Pliskova is the favorite, but by no means an automatic #1 seed.  She would likely face a tough Fourth Round matchup in Frenchwomen Kristina Mladenovic, who beat her soundly 6-2, 6-4 on hard courts earlier this season in Dubai.  Mladenovic is 2-1 in her career on hard courts against Pliskova.  Pliskova broke the happy yesterday but will have her work cut out for her in a winnable but difficult bracket. However, Mladenovic enters the US Open ice-cold, losing four of her last five tournament matches and sliding all the way back to 13th in the World, so there is a relatively clear path to the Quarters

Coco Vandeweghe is always a fun sleeper as well with her big game and her potential to make deep runs (as well as flame out early) and will be looking to erase last year’s embarrassing first-round exit. Svetlana Kuznetsova also disappointed last year in New York, bowing out in the second round.  They could very well meet in a dynamite Fourth Round matchup.  Kuznetsova has beaten Pliskova in their last two hard court matches, making the value at +4000 pretty enticing as a potential hedge.

SECOND QUARTER:

Top Seeded Players and Notables: (4) Elina Svitolina, (6) Angelique Kerber, (12) Jelena Ostapenko, (15) Madison Keys, Eugenie Bouchard

The Favorite: Elina Svitolina

Elina Svitolina is the favorite, but this bracket is loaded with potential Semifinalists.  Angelique Kerber is the defending champion and was ranked #1 in the World just a few months ago.  Sure, she was ousted early at Wimbledon (4th) and at the French in stunning first-ever opening round loss for the #1 overall seed at a Major.  But she still has tons of game, and is the defending champion, so don’t expect her to be an easy out despite a very tough 2017 season.

The path to the Quarters will be tricky for both Svitolina and Kerber.  Elina Svitolina could face USA’s Madison Keys, assuming she gets past a sneaky second round match with Eugenie Bouchard.  Kerber has the young French Open champ Jelena Ostapenko lurking in her half – a real tough matchup if it comes to fruition.  Ostapenko has lost in the opening round of the last two tournaments to unranked qualifiers; Cincinnati and Toronto, but perhaps the rest will be simply rejuvenating rather than a sign of her fading.  I like her to have a big tournament with a nice draw.

Svitolina is the favorite, but I like the value of Ostapenko at +2500 bouncing back after a few weeks to recoup and prepare after what has been a long, grinding summer.

THIRD QUARTER:

Top Seeded Players and Notables: (3) Garbine Muguruza, (5) Caroline Wozniacki, (9) Venus Williams, (13) Petra Kvitova, (24) Kiki Bertens, Ekaterina Makarova

The Favorite: Garbine Muguruza

It’s hard to bet against the Spaniard at this point after a ridiculous summer that has her ranked third in the world and the Vegas favorite to win her second Major of the year, and third overall.  She just won Cincinnati in DOMINATING fashion, beating Madison Keys and Svetlana Kuznetsova and then Pliskova 6-3, 6-2, and Simona Halep 6-1, 6-0 in the last two rounds.  Dominating and impressive stuff.  She won Wimbledon dropping just one set in the Round of 16 to Angelique Kerber and knocked of Venus Williams with a Mortal Kombat fatality 6-0 second set.

She’s the favorite and despite the relatively slim +400 odds remains a really good value given her clear dominance over the summer.  She has best-taken advantage of Serena’s sabbatical and can make a more than reasonable claim to being the best player on the current tour.

She has some big names in her quarter, but I am not real concerned with Wozniaki or Venus.  Both are household names, for good reason, especially (obviously) Venus, but neither is on par with Muguruza at this point.  The biggest threat in the bracket is #13 Petra Kvitova, but it appears the Birmingham win might have been a bit of a tease that the former World #1 was all the way back – she is just 5-5 since then, with a bunch of losses to lower ranked players.

This bracket is Muguruza’s to lose as much as any quarter on the women’s side of the draw.

FOURTH QUARTER:

Top Seeded Players and Notables: (2) Simona Halep, (7) Johanna Konta, (11) Dominika Cibulkova, (21) Anna Konjuh, Sloane Stephens, Maria Sharapova, Roberta Vinci

The Favorite: Simona Halep, but…

Intrigue and controversy abound in the most interesting quarter of the draw.  Let’s start with the obvious: Simona Halep is the second-slimmest odds on the board and is toting around heavily the mantle of “best player to never win a Major” after flirting with lifting the burden a few times recently.  But her draw is GARBAGE!! I have no problem with Maria Sharapova receiving a wildcard entry to the US Open – in fact, I am in favor of it.  Like her or not, the tournament is undoubtedly better with her included and she is obviously still one of the best 128 players in the World, even if she hadn’t touched a racket in three years.  Her 15-month layoff was tough, and her health has been spotty since returning, but she BELONGS in this tournament.

She doesn’t, however, belong blocking the opening round path of the #2 seed. It stinks for Simona Halep, but I think she will still win the match.  Sharapova has beaten her all six times they have faced off, but the most recent match was 2015, and a lot has changed.  Sharapova is obviously rusty, but more importantly, Halep has come into her own.  Plus, Sharapova hasn’t beaten a ranked player since she returned to the tour and has .

That said, Halep is just -200 to win their opening round match tonight, making her overall +600 odds pretty daring.  No other player under +2500 faces anything CLOSE to this level of initial challenge.

I’ll STILL pick Halep to win her quarter, but I’m not betting on the outright until Sharapova is eliminated, knowing full well I’ll lose a little value afterward.

Other threats in this bracket and people ROOTING for Sharapova tonight include Cibulkova and interesting sleeper Sloane Stephens.  Stephens is unseeded but still just +2800 to win the entire US Open.  Stephens in her return to action last week in Cincinnati, a clear salvo to the rest of the field in New York.  She has some nice sleeper value at +2800, especially given the obvious early obstacle for Halep.

OVERALL PICKS:

No bracket is easy to pick – such is life on the 2017 WTA Tour, but Garbine Muguruza is an obvious selection.  I’ll take her to meet Simona Halep in the Semifinals, once again sending her rival home to defeat.  The top half of the bracket is a complete free for all, but I’ll take a pair of upsets with Jelena Ostapenko returning to form after a lousy three weeks and Svetlana Kuznetsova continuing her solid play against #1 seed Karolina Pliskova.

In the end, I’ll take chalk – Garbine Muguruza continuing her dominant play, beating Kuznetsova in the US Open Final.

It’s going to be an amazing tournament, starting right away with Monday’s prime time opening between Halep and Sharapova.  You can catch all the action on ESPN and the ESPN Go App, so enjoy the most fun and exciting Major Championship on tour!

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