Serena Williams is clear favourite to win the US Open but, after claiming just one of the last four majors, victory is far from assured.
To get a better gauge on what to expect from this year’s women’s singles tournament at Flushing Meadows, let’s size up the five frontrunners based on their New York records, Grand Slam form this year and performance over the past few months:
US Open History: She has won Wimbledon more (seven times) and the Australian Open as often (six times), but the US Open is her form major with three successes in four. It was the one that let her down last year though as she came two matches away from completing a Grand Slam, only to be stunned in the semi-finals by Roberta Vinci.
2016 Slam Record: There was a hangover to last year’s Flushing Meadows failure, losing her Melbourne and Roland Garros titles in the trophy-deciding showdowns – she had won her eight previous Slam finals – but she was back on top at Wimbledon.
Post-Wimbledon Form: The 34-year-old’s lone outing since Wimbledon came at the Olympics and definitely didn’t go to plan, surrendering her gold with a third-round loss to Elina Svitolina.
US Open History: Prior to last year’s semi-final, the Romanian hadn’t passed the fourth round in five attempts, exiting in the third even in her career-best season of 2014.
2016 Slam Record: Underwhelming, with a first-round Australian Open flop followed by fourth-round and quarter-final disappointments in France and Wimbledon, each time in straight sets and in the former two to lower-ranked opponents.
Post-Wimbledon Form: This is why Halep finds herself rated joint-second favourite. Since Wimbledon, she has won in Bucharest and Montreal and reached the semis in Cincinnati (P14 W13).
US Open History: The first time Kerber got beyond the third round of a Slam was with a run to the semis at Flushing Meadows in 2011, but she hasn’t passed the fourth round there in four tries there since.
2016 Slam Record: Even accounting for a first-round departure at Roland Garros, the 28-year-old is enjoying one of the most accomplished non-Serena major seasons in years, winning in Australia against the world number one and then getting to the Wimbledon and Olympic finals.
Post-Wimbledon Form: Defeats to Monica Puig in Rio and Karolina Pliskova in Cincinnati hint that the German isn’t as comfortable when entering a final as favourite. Kerber also got to a semi-final in Montreal and withdrew early on in Bastad, so hasn’t won a tournament since Stuttgart in April.
US Open History: Non-existent, with her three entries yielding two first-round eliminations and a single triumph. Even after contesting last year’s Wimbledon final, she fell at round two in New York.
2016 Slam Record: Not quite as consistent as 2015, as while the Venezuela-born Spaniard scaled the ultimate high in Paris, she ducked out in the third round in Australia and second at Wimbledon, both times in straight sets.
Post-Wimbledon Form: The 22-year-old’s two tournament appearances delivered five wins in seven, but both of the defeats were heavy, surrendering 1-6 1-6 to eventual gold-medallist Puig in the Olympic round-of-16 and 1-6 3-6 to Pliskova in the Cincinnati semis.
US Open History: The long-time-tipped future of American tennis, still only 21, has yet to light up her home Slam, with last year’s fourth-round venture the best of her four offerings to date.
2016 Slam Record: Hearteningly consistent, with three fourth-round visits tacking on to two at the end of 2015 to suggest that the breakthrough is close. Keys got that far at just one of her 12 majors prior to that. The sole concern is that she hasn’t made a quarter-final since Wimbledon 2015.
Post-Wimbledon Form: Impressive. It was the Illinois native’s run to the final in Montreal and the semi-finals of the Olympics that has caused punters to perceive her as a US Open contender.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.