SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the women's seeds at the 2015 U.S. Open. Read on for the dark horses, top first-round matchups and predictions, and find the men's seed report here.
1. Serena Williams
The U.S. Open’s unofficial slogan: “The player with the best chance of beating Serena Williams is Serena Williams.” And, yes, the pressure makes this different from her previous majors. And there are players in her path as well, as the draw did not treat her kindly. If she pulls off seven matches, it might rank as her greatest tournament ever, given all that’s at stake. And we think she will.
2. Simona Halep
Three Slams, three disappointments for 2015. But Halep has played well of late, including a competitive match against Serena in the Cincinnati final. And her draw is nothing to complain about.
3. Maria Sharapova
Former U.S. Open champ (albeit nine years ago) but if she isn't fully healthy—she withdrew from Cincinnati due to a right leg injury—she’ll have a hard time living up to her seeding.
4. Caroline Wozniacki
Push notification: she still plays too defensively. But, a finalist last year, she has as good a chance as any player not named Williams.
5. Petra Kvitova
It’s been a strange year. The usual scouting report applies. Her lefty ballstriking could be the engine for greatness. But will her head get in the way?
6. Lucie Safarova
A talented player who often plays her best at majors, including June’s French pen when she won six matches.
7. Ana Ivanovic
Credit her for sticking around the top ten—it’s now seven (!) years since she was the No. 1. But, the anti-Serena, she seems to play her worst when it matters most.
8. Karolina Pliskova
Remains the best player you’re unlikely to have ever seen play. Her ranking seems to improve each week. Her bona fides are not in question, but she still searches for that signature run at a major. Alas, she is in Serena’s neighborhood.
9. Garbine Muguruza
Been library-quiet since her Wimbledon run. But Serena Williams is not alone is predicting that a major title is in Mugu’s future.
10. Carla Suarez Navarro
Another Spaniard. There is the recency bias and omission bias and action bias. Tennis has the one-handed backhand bias. We like her more than we, logically, should. If only so we can watch her zing away.
11. Angelique Kerber
A player to watch, especially after winning Stanford. Does nothing exceptionally but everything capably.
12. Belinda Bencic
Your flavor of the month. Beating Serena Williams was impressive. Backing that up by winning the Toronto title (and then continuing in Cincinnati) was more impressive. The forearm is cause for concern. So is the proximity to Serena in that top quadrant. But if she’s healthy, look out.
13. Ekaterina Makarova
After Australia, it’s been a disappointing year, interrupted by injury. But E-Mak moves well, slugs well, compounds with left-handed strokes, and she reached the semis in 2014.
14. Timea Bacsinszky
The best story in tennis. Two years ago, she had quit and was working at a hotel. Now, she’s on the fringes of the top ten. But it’s been a rough summer on the asphalt.
15. Agnieszka Radwanska
A rough year thus far. Inasmuch as a former top five mainstay in a dark horse, keep an eye on A-Rad.
16. Sara Errani
Has reached the latter rounds of this event, but her deficit of power—especially on the serve—is always a concern.
Like Pliskova, a steady riser who needs to make a move in a major.
Hasn't built much on her Australian Open semifinal run. And Serena looms. But on power along she should charge trough Week One.
Ranking be damned, she is a top five player.
Former champions (2011) always get listed.
Former champions (2000 and 2001) always get listed. But an awfully lot of talent (including her sister) in her pocket of the draw.
What a difference a year makes. If she wins a match or two, it will be a good event.
Her groove is back. Alas, so is the prospect of a match with Serena.
Former champions (2004) always get listed. (Though she may very well lose to Kristina Mladenovic in round one.)
Camila Giorgi: Maddeningly erratic, but tons of game, especially for such a physically slight player.
Coco Vandeweghe: The serve alone makes her dangerous. Though her draw did her no favors. If she can beat Stephens, Serena looms.
Dominika Cibulkova: A Grand Slam finalist—and top ten player—18 months ago, nice to see her back from injury.
Laura Robson: On a protected ranking. Working her way back to where she once belonged.
First round matches to watch
Wozniacki vs. Jamie Loeb: Big opportunity for 2015 NCAA champ.
Cibulkova vs. Ivanovic: Rough first outing for both.
Vandweghe vs. Stephens: Not a lot of secrets between these two.
Mladenovic vs. Kuznetsova: Two athletic, erratic players.
Oceane Dodin d. Jelena Jankovic
Hingis-Mirza. The Wimbledon champs have taken over as the best in the biz.
Serena d. Svitolina
Kvitova d. Halep
Serena d. Kvitova