U.S. Open Roundtable: Picks, predictions and wild happenings
Venus Williams has one big problem, very early: Sabine Lisicki in the second round. If she gets through that, I see the unseeded Venus beating Vera Zvonareva in the fourth round and getting to the quarters.
Shuai Peng. The Chinese veteran has found her game again, and sits in a favorable spot in the draw to make a deep run.
Jelena Jankovic. No one seems to love the stage as much as Serena Williams. No one that is, except for Jelena Jankovic. The former world No. 1 has been teetering on the cusp of irrelevance for much of the last year, watching her ranking slip as low as 16. But in her run to the Cincinnati final, where she outplayed Maria Sharapova for most of the match, Jankovic seems to have rediscovered her game and her confidence. The Smiling Serb has been to the finals here before, and she's one of the few players who raises her game against Serena. She'll need to, as they are in the same quarter, but if she serves well and remembers that she has one of the most effective backhand-down-the-lines in the game, don't count her out.
I'm all-in on the Agnieszka Radwanska bandwagon, a gritty, scramble-for-every-point Murray clone. The plucky Pole has become a tough out, including a semis appearance in Toronto in which she took out Vera Zvonareva and Andrea Petkovic.
Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has charted steady progress since winning the U.S. Open girls' title five years ago. Count on the 20-year-old Russian to improve on last year's run to the fourth round -- and maybe even crash the semis.
At the French Open, Sabine Lisicki blew a match point in the second set and fell in a heartbreaker to Vera Zvonareva. Since then, she's won Birmingham and made deep runs in Wimbledon (losing in the semis to Maria Sharapova) and Stanford, where she was rolled by eventual champion Serena Williams. If the 21-year-old can pick up her first career win against potential fourth-round foe Zvonareva, she should make the semis where Sharapova likely awaits.
Victoria Azarenka. The dubious seeding system creates a major casualty, much too early, as Azarenka loses to Serena in the third round.
Caroline Wozniacki: Pick your reason -- tension with dad, the excitement of a new romance, insecurity with her game, lack of full comfort with her new racket -- the elusive first major feels a long way off right now.
Petra Kvitova. The young Czech has obviously had a phenomenal year, winning titles on all four surfaces (yes, indoor counts as a "surface") and of course, her crowning glory at Wimbledon in July. But the charmingly shy 20-year-old has won only one match since, and has admitted she suffers from asthma in the heat and humidity. With little match play before the Open, I just don't see her getting out of a quarter that includes Maria Sharapova, Peng Shuai, Agnieszka Radwanska, and Lucie Safarova.
Everyone loves the flamboyant Francesca Schiavone, but her summer (losses to Lucie Safarova and Jelena Jankovic) portend an early
Caroline Wozniacki may be the least-fancied top seed since, er, Dinara Safina. Not even
With an over-packed schedule and poor play in the hard-court swing, Caroline Wozniacki isn't ready to capture her first Slam. Don't be shocked if she falls to Daniela Hantuchova or Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round.