Although 11 American ladies have been declared at the early entry stage of the 2014 US Open, that number can quickly be whittled down to three possible contenders, with only one stand-out candidate.
No prizes for guessing that the main protagonist at Flushing Meadows will once again be five-time US Open champion and world number one Serena Williams.
The younger member of the famous tennis sisterhood is the 3/1 favourite, having ended a three-year barren patch at her home Slam by scooping the last two US Open crowns.
Nonetheless, judging by her dismal year in the majors so far – Serena followed a fourth-round exit at the Australian Open by crashing out of the French and Wimbledon in the second and third rounds respectively – even she will have her work cut out to make it a hat-trick.
And it’s certainly an indictment of US tennis’ talent factory that only two of the remaining 10 women representatives have any real chance.
Rising teenage star and recent Eastbourne champion Madison Keys is a 25/1 shot, while 21-year-old Sloane Stephens is a 33/1 chance with Ladbrokes.
However, in realistic terms both these ladies would have to play at a level well in excess of their previous best to come close to providing an alternative star-spangled success.
Keys may have announced herself to the world with a first ATP Tour success on grass, but a second-round 2011 appearance remains her best effort in New York, while she failed to qualify in 2012 before exiting at the first hurdle in 2013.
Of the young pretenders to Serena’s crown, it’s arguably Stephens who is worthier of a flutter.
The world number 22, five places higher than Keys, reached the fourth round at the last major of the year in 2013, to follow on from her finest career moment in reaching the semis of the Aussie Open the same year.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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