2016 U.S. Open women's seed report: Dark horses, matches to watch

Breaking down the 2016 U.S. Open women's draw, including dark horses, matches to watch and semifinals and finals predictions.
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SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the women's seeds at the 2016 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, United States

Well, it’s been an interesting ride since Wimbledon 2015. She won the previous major—and is still No. 1—but the shoulder injury is a cause for concern. Then again, she is Serena Williams—something no one else in the field can say. Rough first rounder against Makarova, a former Top 10-er, a former U.S. Open semifinalist and a former vanquisher of Serena at a hardcourt major.

2.Angelique Kerber, Germany

A supreme year. But you wonder about the mental toll of a) her inability to win the gold medal match in Rio and b) the inability to win a match with the No. 1 ranking on the line.

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3.Garbiñe Muguruza, Spain

It's been a disappointing summer for Mugu. But she broke through in Paris and you sense that she’s as good as she believes she can be. She could win the title. She could lose in week one. Eventually, the consistency will come.

4.Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland

For a player ranked so immodestly, Radwanska’s results have been unremarkable this year. Due for a deep run.

5. Simona Halep, Romania

Same song, different verse: Harsh as this will sound, we’ve sort of entered the what-have-you-done-for-us-lately zone. A top-five player for several years now, but the natives are growing restless. Will get an early test against Kirsten Flipkens in round one.

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6. Venus Williams, United States

Without grading Venus on a curve, she is a Top 10 player, a former champion and threat to win any event she enters. But seven matches is, unfortunately, a tall order for her. Has to like her draw, but a potential middle weekend match against Pliskova is cause for concern.

7. Roberta Vinci, Italy

Returns to the scene of the crime. Whether it’s motivation or pressure, her play is 2016 has been such that, absent a strong showing, she’s due for a major slip in the rankings.

8. Madison Keys, United States

The newest member of the Top 10 and, as we saw in Rio, there’s still room to grow. If she could make like a child with a coloring book and work inside the lines, she has a real shot at the title.

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9. Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia

Somehow her erratic play always strikes as more endearing than annoying. A former champ certainly has the weapons to win—if she’s in the mood.

10. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic

An intriguing player with a big game, fresh from wining Cincy, the biggest title of her career. Now, she needs a Grand Slam breakthrough. Starts off against Sofia Kenin.

11. Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain

Become a bit like the Richard Gasquet of the women’s game. Gorgeous backhand, pleasant disposition, three wins and out.

12. Dominika Cibulkova, Slovakia

A player who a) knows how to win and b) thieves on big stages. Not a lot of match post-Wimbledon (and post-wedding) but that might mean she’s fresh.

13. Johanna Konta, Great Britain

Outside the top 100 at this time last year, she’s now on the cusp of the Top 10. Not unlike Stevie Johnson, she simply knows how to win matches.

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14. Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic

After a disappointing year Kvitova showed flashes of her greatness in Rio where she won bronze. In a career marked by wild swings, you feel like she’s due for a strong Slam.

15. Timea Bacsinszky, Switzerland

We like the game and the backhand and don't-take-myself-too-seriously disposition. If she’s not a threat, she can still make life difficult for a lot of higher ranked opponents.

16. Samantha Stosur, Australia

Former U.S. Open champ still capable of high-level tennis under the right circumstances.

Seeds 17-32

17. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia

Quietly in the throes of a strong year.

19. Elena Vesnina, Russia

Ranking improved almost 100 slots since the start of the year.

20.  Kiki Bertens, Netherlands

A world-beater in France.

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22. Elina Svitolina, Ukraine

Most recent player to beat Serena.

23. Daria Kasatkina, Russia

Russian teen quietly climbing ranks.

24. Belinda Bencic, Switzerland

An injury-filled 2016. Has a lot of game, but the former junior champ is still in search of that Grand Slam breakthrough.

28. CoCo Vandeweghe, United States

It’s an unofficial title but she holds it: best serve in the women’s game when Serena has shoulder problem.

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29. Ana Ivanovic, Serbia

Former No. 1 players always get mention. (Even if you wonder how much longer she wants to keep going like this.)

32. Monica Puig, Puerto Rico

If the Olympics had awarded points this year, the gold medal winner would have been near the top 20. Comes in as a redefined player. Can she build on Rio?

Dark Horse Pasture

Lucie Safarova: A top five player barely a year ago.

Kristina Mladenovic: Needs to work on closing, but the game (and athleticism) is there.

Caroline Wozniacki: Been a fairly wretched year but she’s too good to miss mention altogether.

Jelena Jankovic: Yes, it was ages ago, but former finalists get mentioned.

Genie Bouchard: Like Wozniacki, for all her woes, she’s better than her ranking suggests.

Ana Konjuh: A junior champion, the Croatian has had an injury-marred pro career (who hasn’t?) but has looked good lately.

Sabine Lisicki: Rough year but a top five serve always makes her a threat.

First round matches to watch

Serena vs. Makarova: Not the first match either wanted.

Shelby Rogers vs. Sara Errani: Big opportunity for Rogers against for top five player.

Vandeweghe vs. Naomi Osaka: Pity the tennis balls.

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Upset Special

Camila Giorgi d. Sam Stosur

Doubles winner

Ekatarina Makarova and Elena Vesnina: With Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis residing in Splitsville, the Russians (fresh off Olympic gold) can consolidate.


Halep (taking advantage of Serena’s compromised health) d. Venus

Keys d. Kerber


Keys d. Halep