Serena slight favourite in wide US Open field
Serena Williams earns the nod as a favourite heading into the US Open by virtue of her Olympic and Wimbledon titles, but the field of contenders is wide open entering the year’s last Grand Slam event.
The Flushing Meadows fortnight begins tomorrow with Williams having had her 19-match win streak halted at Cincinnati, in her final Open hardcourt tune-up, by Angelique Kerber, the German who ousted Venus Williams at the Olympics.
“I embrace being that,” Serena Williams said of the favourite’s role.
“Like at Wimbledon I wasn’t the favourite and I was shocked. I actually got angry. So I don’t know if it’s better not to be a favourite or for me to be a favourite.”
The world no.4, a 14-time Grand Slam champion, was a shock loser to Samantha Stosur in last year’s US Open final, and is a favourite despite her 2008 triumph being her only US Open singles crown since 2002.
Instead, there’s quite a hefty title hunt including top seed and world no.1 Victoria Azarenka, of Belarus, and Poland’s world no.2 Agnieszka Radwanska, the Wimbledon runner-up to Serena Williams.
Russian Maria Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam with her fourth major title at this year’s French Open, won the 2006 US Open and should contend as well.
In all, the past seven Grand Slam women’s singles crowns have gone to seven different players, a run that’s one shy of the Open Era record from the 2004 French Open through the 2006 Australian Open and two shy of the all-time run of different winners from the 1937-1939 Australian Opens.
China’s ninth-ranked Li Na, who started the latest run with her landmark 2011 French Open triumph, is a contender again after a Cincinnati title and a runner-up effort in Montreal.
Li has replaced her husband as trainer with Carlos Rodriguez, a former coach of Justine Henin.
“It’s working pretty good. He never gives me the pressure. He never says negative things,” Li said.
And as for dark-horse contenders to stretch the different winners streak to eight, Kerber might give Venus Williams a run in that department after dispatching her at London and snuffing Serena’s win streak.
“I did beat both of them, and it’s a great feeling because they are both such great players and won so many Grand Slams and they’re still playing so well,” Kerber said.”