Serena Williams dominates my most recent WTA hard court rankings, so it’s no surprise that she’s favored to win the U.S. Open. As was the case before Wimbledon, it’s remarkable to see how chaotic the women’s field is. While Novak Djokovic has a 28% chance of winning the men’s event, Serena is the only woman in double digits, at 14.2%.
Because of Serena’s low seeding at #28, a decisive match may take place in the first week. Assuming some easy wins for both Williams and Victoria Azarenka, the two ladies will face off in the third round. My algorithm gives the American a 59% chance of winning that match, meaning it could be the toughest test she faces in the entire tournament.
Behind Serena, Carolina Wozniacki has a 9.8% chance of winning the U.S. Open, followed by Maria Sharapova at 9.2%. Next up are Petra Kvitova at 8.0% and Vera Zvonareva at 7.9%. An amazing 21 women (compared to 13 men) have at least a 1% chance of going home a champion. These include the unseeded Venus Williams (1.8%) and the 32nd seeded Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (1.0%, or 0.25% per name).
The conspiracy-minded among you might note that top seeds Wozniacki and Zvonareva have the most favorable first-round odds, despite my system ranking them only 3rd and 7th on hard courts. Their opening opponents, Nuria Llagostera Vives and Stephanie Foretz Gacon, are the 16th and 23rd weakest players in the draw, according to the current WTA rankings. (My system isn’t as reliable that far down the WTA list.) Caro and Vera are the only two players with a better-than-90% chance of winning their openers, though both Sharapova, Marion Bartoli, and Andrea Petkovic are at an even 90%.
Here are a few interesting first-rounders. In each of these, my system gives neither player a better than 55% chance of advancing, with the favorite in bold:
- Greta Arn vs Vania King
- Eleni Daniilidou vs Michaella Krajicek
- Anne Keothavong vs Chanelle Scheepers
- Francesca Schiavone vs Galina Voskoboeva (the 7th seed doesn’t have good results on hard courts)
- Alla Kudryavtseva vs Anastasia Rodionova
- Misaki Doi vs Laura Pous-Tio
- Melania Oudin vs Romani Oprandi
- Anastasija Sevastova vs Vera Dushevina (nearly 50/50)
- Maria Kirilenko vs Ekaterina Makarova (Kirilenko is another vulnerable seed)
- Coco Vandeweghe vs Alberta Brianti