U.S Open R1: (2) Simona Halep vs Marina Erakovic
Simona Halep will begin her quest for a maiden Grand Slam title at Flushing Meadows when she comes up against Marina Erakovic in the first round on Tuesday. The world number 2 looms as one of Serena Williams’s biggest threats over the next fortnight, the Romanian has proved that she has what it takes to match it with the world number 1. First, Simona will be looking to avoid another disastrous early round exit at a Grand Slam.
Simona Halep rebounded from a disappointing couple of months with a strong showing during the U.S Open series. The Romanian reached the final at the Rogers Cup and in Cincinnati. The Romanian’s run to the final at the Rogers Cup was particularly impressive, recording victories over Jankovic, Kerber, Radwanska and Errani before running out of steam in the final against Belinda Bencic.
Simona backed up her run to the final in Toronto with another strong showing in Cincinnati. Simona recorded hard fought victories over Mladenovic and Petkovic before comfortably beating Pavlyuchenkova and Jankovic to advance to the final. Simona came up against a fired up Serena Williams in the final, falling short in a 3-6 6-7 loss. Despite the loss, Simona showed that she can be a threat to Serena, the second set tiebreak was incredibly close, Simona really pushed the world number 1.
Marina Erakovic’s horror season continued during the U.S Open. Marina failed to progress through the qualifying draw in Cincinnati and New Haven, succumbing to Nara and Savchuk. Erakovic has only ever won one main draw match at Flushing Meadows in her 5 appearances at the event.
This will be the first meeting between Simona and Marian, this should be a straightforward victory for Simona. Nerves have been a problem for Simona in the early stages of Grand Slams, she may make a slow start to this one. Once Simona gets going, she will be far too good.
Prediction: Simona Halep to defeat Marina Erakovic in 2 sets
U.S Open R1: (6) Lucie Safarova vs Lesia Tsurenko
Lucie Safarova and Lesia Tsurenko will go head to head for the second time in as many weeks. Safarova defeated Tsurenko in straight sets at the semi-final stage of the Connecticut Open last week and will hoping for a repeat performance when the two clash at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday. This is a tough first round match-up for Lucie, Tsurenko is in good form.
Lucie Safarova’s run to the final in New Haven will give her a much needed boost of confidence heading into the final Grand Slam of the year. Safarova didn’t really get going in Toronto or Cincinnati, picking up just two victories in those events. Safarova’s decision to accept a wild card into the Connecticut Open turned out to be a good one, defeating some quality opponents on route to the final.
Safarova advanced to the final with straight set victories over Gavrilova, Begu and Tsurenko. An extremely hard fought three set victory over Cibulkova in the quarter-finals was the highlight of the week for Lucie. The week did end in disappointment for Lucie, suffering her seventh consecutive loss to Petra Kvitova in the final, Lucie seemed to run out of gas late in the final, succumbing 7-6 2-6 2-6.
Lesia Tsurenko is one of the form players on the tour right now. Since Wimbledon, the Ukrainian has gone on three deep runs. Tsurenko dropped 1 set in 5 matches on route to claiming her first WTA title in Istanbul before coming through qualifying and defeating Garbine Muguruza to reach the quarter-finals at the Rogers Cup. Tsurenko’s solid form continued last week where she defeated Barbora Strycova and Karolina Pliskova on her way to the semi-finals in New Haven before succumbing to Lucie Safarova in straight sets.
Lucie holds a 2-0 head to head record over Lesia. Lucie’s 6-2 7-6 victory over Lesia last week in New Haven was a little easier than her three set victory over the Ukrainian at the U.S Open in 2013. Tsurenko had her moments against Lucie last week and will come into this match with nothing to lose, all the pressure will be on the sixth seeded Safarova. Lucie is much better at dealing with pressure these day and will be up for the challenge, Lucie should ultimately be a little too classy for Lesia.
Prediction: Lucie Safarova to defeat Lesia Tsurenko in 3 sets
U.S Open R1: Ajla Tomljanovic vs Karin Knapp
There were big expectations placed upon Ajla Tomljanovic heading into 2015, however the Australian has failed to fire. Ajla has one last big opportunity to make an impact in 2015, starting with a winnable first round clash against Italy’s Karin Knapp.
Ajla Tomljanovic’s form during the U.S Open was typical of her season, there were glimpses of brilliance but some incredible lows. Ajla picked up an impressive come from behind victory over Madison Keys to reach the quarter-finals in Stanford where she would succumb to Karolina Pliskova. Ajla played some stunning tennis in the final set against Keys, it’s a shame we don’t get to see her play at that level very often. Ajla’s preparation for New York ended on a sour note, thumped by Irina Falconi in the final round of qualifying in Connecticut.
Karin Knapp has shown reasonable form over the last few months, her ranking is steadily rising and she only just missed out on a seeding in New York. Knapp went on deep runs in Bad Gastein and Baku but her results during the U.S Open series weren’t so great. Knapp suffered a humiliating 0-6 0-6 loss to Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Rogers Cup before reaching the third round in Cincinnati where she was smashed by Serena Williams 0-6 2-6.
Knapp defeated Tomljanovic 7-5 6-2 in Hobart earlier this year in what was their only previous encounter. Both Ajla and Karin will see this as an opportunity for a rare Grand Slam victory, it’s a tough one to call. I’m going to side with Tomljanovic. Ajla’s upside is far greater, hopefully she will bring her a-game to Flushing Meadows, I have a feeling she will.
Prediction: Ajla Tomljanovic to defeat Karin Knapp in 2 sets
U.S Open R1: (20) Victoria Azarenka vs Lucie Hradecka
Victoria Azarenka looms as Serena Williams’ biggest threat over the next fortnight in New York. Azarenka is a two-time runner up at Flushing Meadows, coming agonizingly close to winning the title in 2012 where she failed to serve out the match against Serena Williams. Vika will be looking to go one step better in 2015, the Belarusian will start her 2015 campaign on Tuesday where she will come up against Lucie Hradecka.
Vika showed glimpses of her best during the U.S Open series, however injuries ultimately held her back yet again. Vika stormed through to the round of 16 in Toronto and Cincinnati but ultimately succumbed in a disappointing fashion at both events.
Vika recorded convincing victories over Elina Svitolina and Petra Kvitova in Toronto before playing a bizarrely poor match to lose to Sara Errani in the third round. Vika’s 6-0 6-4 victory over Caroline Wozniacki in Cincinnati was the highlight of the Belarusians lead up to New York. Vika played some incredible tennis in the first set, obliterating Wozniacki. The tournament ended poorly for Vika as she was forced to retire injured during her third round match with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
Lucie Hradecka’s record at the U.S Open is in complete contrast to Vika’s. Lucie has just 1 main draw victory to her name at Flushing Meadows in 5 appearances at the event. Hradecka’s form during the U.S Open series was quite terrible, failing to get through the qualifying draw in Toronto, Cincinnati and New Haven.
This should be a fairly routine victory for Vika. The Belarusian has a 3-0 head to head record over Lucie and should be far too good in New York, a city she loves playing in.
Prediction: Victoria Azarenka to defeat Lucie Hradecka in 2 sets
U.S Open R1: (27) Alize Cornet vs Kurumi Nara
Alize Cornet’s season has been disappointing, failing to replicate the extraordinary highs of season 2014 where she famously defeated Serena Williams on three occasions. Alize will kick-start her U.S Open campaign on Tuesday with a very winnable first round match against Kurumi Nara.
Alize Cornet’s form during the U.S Open series was lacklustre, Alize hasn’t been playing with the immense energy we know she can bring to the court. Alize failed to progress past the third round at all four U.S Open series events she entered. Cornet suffered a couple of worrying defeats, including losses to Chirico and Begu. Alize’s run to the third round in Toronto was a highlight, picking up impressive victories over Carla Suarez Navarro and Dominika Cibulkova before succumbing to Agnieszka Radwanska in a tight one.
Kurumi Nara is also struggling at the moment, as a result her ranking has dropped significantly in the last couple of months. Nara was defeated by Yulia Putintseva in the first round in Washington and was forced to retire against the same opponent in the final round of qualifying in Cincinnati.
This will be the first career meeting between Cornet and Nara. Alize should see this as a big opportunity to gain some much needed momentum as she looks to reach the second week at Flushing Meadows for the very first time. This is a bad match-up for Nara, the two are similar in a lot of ways but Alize does everything better and should be too crafty for Nara.
Prediction: Alize Cornet to defeat Kurumi Nara in 2 sets
U.S Open R1: Monica Puig vs (23) Venus Williams
Two-time former Champion Venus Williams will begin her 2015 U.S Open campaign on Monday when she takes on Monica Puig, second up on Arthur Ashe Stadium. Venus has been a real threat at the Grand Slams this year, reaching the second week on two occasions. Venus hasn’t reached the second week in New York since 2010, she will be keen to turn that around this year.
Monica Puig’s recent form has been quite disastrous, winning just two main draw matches since Roland Garros. The Puerto Rican’s U.S Open series results were poor, failing to reach the main draw in Cincinnati and New Haven (suffering straight set losses to Hradecka and Govortsova in qualifying). Puig did play some decent tennis a couple of week ago in Toronto, coming through the qualifying draw where she picked up some handy victories before losing to Angelique Kerber in the second round.
Venus Williams’ form in the last couple of months hasn’t been much better, but we all know what the American is capable of when she is healthy and ready to compete.
The U.S Open series didn’t go to plan for Venus. The American was routed by Sabine Lisicki 0-6 3-6 in the first round at the Rogers Cup before being forced to withdraw from her second round match with Ana Ivanovic in Cincinnati due to a viral illness. The American’s only victory with an unconvincing first round win over Zarina Diyas in Cincinnati. The positive for Venus is that she should be fresh and ready for a long couple of weeks in New York.
In their only previous encounter, Venus Williams prevailed in a tight one: 6-2 5-7 6-3. This will be the first meeting between the pair on a hard court. I expect a refreshed Venus Williams to be far too strong for an out of form Monica Puig on a Stadium the American is far more familiar with.
Prediction: Venus Williams to defeat Monica Puig in 2 sets
U.S Open R1: (25) Eugenie Bouchard vs Alison Riske
Eugenie Bouchard has been dealt a reasonable first round match-up, the Canadian will come up against Alison Riske, an opponent she has defeated four times in a row. Eugenie Bouchard’s dismal form continued during the U.S Open series but she will be hopeful her game will once again click at the Grand Slam level.
Eugenie Bouchard’s dismal season has been well documented, the Canadian has justifiably received a lot of criticism for her shocking results. Bouchard has won just 3 matches since Indian Wells whilst slumping to 14 defeats. The Canadian managed to pick up just 1 victory during the U.S Open series and arrives in New York on the back of an embarrassing 1-6 0-6 loss to Roberta Vinci in the first round of the Connecticut Open last week.
Eugenie Bouchard has been spotted working with Jimmy Connors at Flushing Meadows in the last week in an attempt to somehow reverse her miserable form.
Alison Riske’s recent form hasn’t been much better. The American arrives in New York on the back on first-up exits in Cincinnati and New Haven. Riske did have some success earlier on in the summer, defeating Carla Suarez Navarro in straight sets on route to the Quarter-finals in Stanford. The American famously defeated Petra Kvitova in the third round of the 2013 U.S Open, but has failed to make an impact ever since.
Eugenie Bouchard holds a 4-1 head to head record over Riske. Bouchard has won the last four encounter between the pair, including 2 straight set victories in their most recent encounters. Bouchard defeated Rise 7-6 6-3 earlier this year in Eastbourne and 6-2 6-3 in Wuhan last year.
Another first round loss for Bouchard would be disastrous. Despite her recent troubles she should be reasonably confident heading into this match given her record over the American. There are no excuses and nowhere to hide for Bouchard, she simply must win this and I think she will.
Prediction: Eugenie Bouchard to defeat Alison Riske in 3 sets
U.S Open R1: CoCo Vandeweghe vs (29) Sloane Stephens
A massive first round encounter at Flushing Meadows sees two American rising stars go head to head, CoCo Vandeweghe and Sloane Stephens. Both ladies suffered second round defeats in New York last year and will be hoping for a better performance this year.
After reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon earlier this year, there were high hopes for CoCo Vandeweghe during the U.S Open series. However the American has been one of the biggest disappointments over the last month, her form during the U.S Open series was terrible. The American suffered first round losses in Stanford, Toronto and New Haven, her only victory came in Cincinnati where she defeated Yulia Putintseva in the first round.
Vandeweghe will be looking to put all the disappointment behind her as she looks to redeem herself in New York. Vandeweghe’s record at flushing Meadows is poor, she has never made in past the second round.
Sloane Stephens’ preparation for the U.S Open has been far more promising. The American kick-started her U.S Open series campaign in the best possible fashion by picking up her first WTA title in Washington D.C. The American also showed glimpses of what she is capable of in Cincinnati, where she defeated Carla Suarez Navarro and Mona Barthel before giving up a one set advantage to lose to Ana Ivanovic.
CoCo Vandeweghe holds a 2-1 head to head advantage over Stephens, however it was Stephens who emerged victorious in their most recent encounter. A 6-3 6-4 victory in Strasbourg earlier this year. Importantly, Vandeweghe has won both of their previous matches on a hard court.
Given CoCo’s recent troubles, Stephens looks to have the edge heading into this one. Vandeweghe will need to serve extremely will if she is to have a chance, Stephens should be too good in the majority of the baseline battles.
Prediction: Sloane Stephens to defeat CoCo Vandeweghe in 3 sets
U.S Open R1: Dominika Cibulkova vs (7) Ana Ivanovic
Arguably the best first round match at Flushing Meadows sees two former quarter-finalists go head to head: Dominika Cibulkova and Ana Ivanovic. The pressure will be on, both ladies will be extremely desperate to avoid a first round exit in the final Grand Slam of the year.
Dominika Cibulkova looms as the most dangerous unseeded player in the draw. The former Grand Slam finalist’s rankings has slipped courtesy of spending the majority of 2015 on the sidelines recovery from an Achilles injury.
Cibulkova finally seems to be back to her fighting best. Domi made a slow start to her U.S Open series campaign, suffering early round exits in Toronto and Cincinnati but her performances in New Haven last week were extremely encouraging. Domi competed in 3 marathon matches, playing with a promising intensity throughout. The Slovak picked up hard-fought victories over Tsvetana Pironkova and Kristina Mladenovic before just falling short in a tense quarter-final loss to Lucie Safarova. Domi will be looking to win her first match in New York since 2012 when she takes to the court against Ana Ivanovic.
Ana Ivanovic’s form during the U.S Open series wasn't spectacular. The Serb only managed to pick up three victories during appearances in Toronto and Cincinnati. Ivanovic’s only notable victory came in Cincinnati where she defeated Sloane Stephens in 3 sets. Ana did go on to push Serena Williams to three sets in the quarter-finals, an encouraging performance.
The head to head record between Domi and Ana is split at two wins apiece. Ivanovic has won the two most recent encounters, including a 6-2 6-4 victory in Linz back in 2013. On paper, this looks like an extremely close match, the pressure will be on to avoid a first round exit.
I like Dominika’s chances in this match. Domi has caused numerous upsets at Grand Slams, she often plays her best tennis when she isn’t necessarily expected to win and often on the big stage. I think this is a good match-up for Domi who seems refreshed, fired up and perfectly poised to cause some damage in New York.
Prediction: Dominika Cibulkova to defeat Ana Ivanovic in 3 sets
U.S Open R1: (15) Agnieszka Radwanska vs Katerina Siniakova
Agnieszka Radwanska will open her U.S Open campaign with a first round meeting against promising youngster Katerina Siniakova. Aga’s results at Flushing Meadows have been disappointing, the only Grand Slam where she has failed to reach the quarter-final stage. Aga will be looking to change that statistic in 2015.
Agnieszka Radwanska arrives at Flushing Meadows perfectly poised for a big couple of weeks. The Pole’s preparation has been good, playing 4 tournaments during the U.S Open series. Radwanska’s results weren't spectacular but she showed glimpses of what she capable of and is physically ready to go.
Radwanska reached the quarter-finals in in Stanford, Toronto and New Haven but just fell short against quality opponents at each tournament (losing to Kerber, Halep and Kvitova). There is much less pressure on Aga this year in New York, she is not expected to reach the later stages and she is only defending second round points. This is a good opportunity for Aga to push back into the top 10.
Siniakova’s preparation for the final Grand Slam of the year in New York has been far from ideal. The Czech rising star was forced to sit out the entire U.S Open series due to an injury. Siniakova will be competing in just her second Grand Slam main draw and her very first at the U.S Open. It will be a tough ask for Siniakova to compete with Radwanska, especially because of her poor preparation.
This will be the first encounter between Radwanska and Siniakova. Siniakova is a very talented young opponent and will see this as a big opportunity, however given her recent injury troubles I can’t see her causing Aga any troubles here. The Pole should kick-start her U.S Open campaign with a comfortable victory.
Prediction: Aga Radwanska to defeat Katerina Siniakova in 2 sets