August 21, 2019
So soon after Simona Halep was crowned the Wimbledon champion, it is almost time for another Grand Slam extravaganza at the US Open.
New York beckons with all the glitz and glamour of the US Open. The noisy, late nights, the endless adrenalin, the incredible energy. Who doesn’t love Flushing Meadows? The question on everyone’s lips is this: who will emerge triumphant from all the chaotic drama?
She is already an established protagonist at Flushing Meadows. She was a US Open finalist in 2017 and has added even more grit to her game recently. Look who she beat in Cincinnati on her way to the title! Garbine Muguruza, Halep and Venus Williams to name a few. And in the final against Svetlana Kuznetsova, when the veteran Russian served for both sets, she was undone by Madison’s fierce and timely resistance.
There is no reason why Keys shouldn’t quickly and confidently transfer this superb level onto an even bigger stage
But can we safely predict she will do so? Her form in tournaments prior to Cincinnati was patchy, to say the least.
And some of the cliff-hanger wins she enjoyed on her way to Cinci glory could have gone either way. But Madison is now a top-ten player once more and in her favour is the suspicion that some of the usual big-hitters may not be ready to shine.
So let’s look around for other realistic contenders. Second seed Ashleigh Barty has suffered a lull since her French Open triumph. But she could come good again now the pressure of expectation has eased.
Serena has been suffering back spasms so severe that she had to pull out early in her recent final in Toronto.
She simply doesn’t seem to have enough matches under her belt to prevail in the big one but we should never count Serena out. She is always dangerous. Meanwhile, Naomi Osaka also had to retire mid-match in her recent quarter-final, complaining of a painful knee. Will top-seed Naomi’s fitness hold for long enough over a testing Grand Slam fortnight to help her defend her title? You have to wonder.
Now Halep has the taste for victory when it matters – and the temperament for big-time success. Simona has to look around her and think she has a great chance to add to her 2019 Wimbledon title and her French Open win the year before. By comparison, Karolina Pliskova and Elina Svitlolina aren’t exactly setting the world alight right now, despite their top-five status.
Former US Open champions Sloane Stephens and Angelique Kerber are still trying to recapture their glory days.
Halep has hardly looked unbeatable of late either, falling to Keys in a tough battle in Cincinnati.
And yet that narrow defeat should not deter us from considering Simona to be one of the favourites in New York.
She has the appetite for the Grand Slam fight on any surface. She was an Australian Open finalist last year and reached the US Open semi-final in 2015.
What about Bianca Andreescu? She is in a much more impressive form. She beat the stricken Serena in Canada to take the title just two weeks ago. Unfortunate circumstances, but let’s not forget she had earned the right with a storming campaign en route to the final. Andreescu then listened to her body and wisely rested up last week. She could be a dark horse for New York.
And of course, the entire world will be willing teenage sensation Coco Gauff to take advantage of her wild card to go deep at Flushing Meadows. She has the courage and confidence to do it, too. Having said all that, why not Halep once more?
Taking into account the extraordinary unpredictability of women’s tennis, she remains a better bet than most.
We can’t wait to see the Ladie’s in action next week!