After the grass-court swing wraps up at the All England Club, the WTA takes on two more weeks of clay before heading to the States to begin the summer hard-court season. The Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series kicks off with the Bank of the West Classic and culminates with the last Grand Slam of the season, the U.S. Open (Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series).
This year Serena will once again enter the tournament as the favorite, and this is why:
Earlier this month, we saw a Wimbledon where only two of the top five seeds made the fourth round, and only one made the quarterfinal; and as we look to the last Grand Slam of the season, one question remains: Will unheralded players trailblaze through the U.S. Open draw, as they did on the lawns of the All England Club, or will order restore itself as the top players hold their own once more?
Regardless of what happens with the rest of the draw, one thing is certain: expect Serena Williams to dominate at the 2013 U.S. Open.
Serena is currently on her way home from Bastad, where she won her 53rd WTA title. This ties her for ninth place with Monica Seles for most career WTA titles and first place for most clay-court titles amongst active players, according to Serena statistics, per the WTA website.
This proves that she has not only had a tremendously successful career, but she also continues to be successful. She's so invested in her legacy that she is willing to compete at an international-level tournament in order to add to her list of accomplishments.
Serena’s fourth-round loss at the All England Club was significant for a few reasons.
First, it snapped her 34-match winning streak. Williams was a couple of matches from reaching and passing Venus Williams’ record of 35 consecutive matches. At this point in her career, Serena is looking to establish as many records as possible—and that was one that she must have been looking to break.
However, the most important factor from that loss is Serena genuinely doesn’t like to come up short. The last time she did was during her famous first-round loss to Virginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open, where she was the favorite to the take the title after having a stellar 2012 clay-court season.
Since that loss, Serena has won 80 matches and has lost only four. Serena not only went on to win Wimbledon and the U.S. Open later in 2012, she also claimed Olympic gold medals in singles and in doubles and won the Year-End Championships.
Serena was the 2013 Wimbledon favorite and came up short by barely making it to the second week, much less to the second Saturday. This loss will fuel her through at Flushing Meadows. She will once again enter the last Grand Slam of the season as the tournament favorite, but, this time, she won't disappoint as she takes a fifth U.S. Open title.
One of her coaches—and rumored boyfriend—Patrick Mouratoglou, said that "You cannot expect for anybody even if she is the greatest player of all time, if she is, to be perfect on all the matches all the year," according to an article by tennis.com's Jonathan Scott.
Serena most likely agrees with that statement, but she's ready to go back to being near-perfect. With her win in Bastad, she plans on continuing her rebound on the hard courts.
Serena is going to look at her fourth-round loss against Lisicki similarly to her loss against Razanno and is going to go into the U.S. Open confident and ready to take a fifth title, just one away from tying Chris Evert’s record of six.
Toronto and Cincinnati
Serena will begin her hard-court campaign in Canada at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. She's won the tournament twice before in 2001 and 2011, making her the only player in the draw to have come out victorious twice.
Her first seeding and the fact that Victoria Azarenka is not signed up to play, makes Serena the clear-cut favorite. While winning this tournament serves as fantastic preparation for the U.S. Open, it has never actually led to a successful U.S. Open.
In the two years that she won the Rogers Cup, she lost the U.S. Open final (2001 to Venus Williams and 2011 to Samantha Stosur). Serena will look at the Rogers Cup as a means to get her feet wet and on solid ground. Her chances of coming away with a win are high, but it won't be a defining factor in her U.S. Open preparation.
A week later, Serena will head to Hamilton County in Ohio to compete in the Western and Southern Open. It was at this tournament that Serena suffered her final loss of the 2012 season. This is also a tournament Serena has never won before, per USA Today.
These two factors will be incentives to inspire Serena to do well in Ohio. She will want to add a Cincinnati title to her titles list and will want to avenge her loss from last year in an effort to adequately prepare herself mentally and physically for Flushing Meadows.
Looking at Serena’s competition and likely draw placement only further strengthens her chances of walking away the champion.
It is unlikely that Victoria Azarenka or Maria Sharapova will top Williams in the rankings. It is also equally as unlikely that Agnieszka Radwanska will surpass either Sharapova or Azarenka or that any one below Agnieszka will surpass her.
This means that the U.S. Open draw will likely look a lot like this year’s Wimbledon draw with Serena and Radwanska highlighting the top half and Azarenka and Sharapova in position to dictate the bottom half. This would mean that she wouldn't have to compete against anyone inside the top five until the quarterfinals or semifinals.
The only hard-court matches Serena has lost this year are to Sloane Stephens on the slower courts of the Australian Open and Victoria Azarenka in Doha. It’s safe to say that both Stephens and Azarenka will make deep runs in Flushing Meadows, but Serena’s 12-2 record against Azarenka and injury-filled loss to Stephens at the Australian Open clearly mark Serena the favorite.
What’s more, Serena is a healthy 14-2 against Sharapova (Serena hasn’t lost to Sharapova in almost a decade) and solid 5-0 against Radwanska.
Her dominance against the other top players highlights her wining potential, and her eagerness to right the ship whenever it goes awry will see Serena earn some silverware under the lights in Flushing Meadows.
There are many factors to consider when picking a favorite. However, when it comes to the U.S. Open and Serena in 2013, it's hard to place your money elsewhere. Serena has dominated in 2013.
She has been extremely active in tournament play and has won more matches by this time of the year (51) than any other season in her career (next highest is 38 exactly 10 years ago), according to the WTA, proving that she is focused on winning and competing as much, and as best, as she can.
Her recent dominance and her career dominance will once again take Serena all the way at Flushing Meadows.
Potentially dangerous players: Samantha Stosur, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Na Li, Angelique Kerber, Venus Williams, and Jelena Jankovic.
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