New York | US Open women’s preview: A tough draw for Raducanu

The draw for the 2022 US Open took place on Thursday and two of the biggest names do not feature among the top 10 seeds, but will still get hefty billing while they are still in the tournament, namely defending champion Emma Raducanu and the about-to-retire Serena Williams.

I'm rewatching my matches from the US Open. There are certain moments where I was given a lot of gifts [opponent errors] or maybe they got a bit tight. I think I've improved as a player. I'm finding freedom in my swinging. I think I achieved something great... but I was playing completely free [at last year's Open]. I'm starting to do that again. Emma Raducanu

Raducanu is seeded 11th, while Williams, currently ranked 410, is the most dangerous of floaters in the draw, but they have landed in different halves and can only meet in the final.

The British No 1 has been seeded 10 and 12 for her last two Grand Slam appearances, and both have ended in 2nd-round defeats, but Raducanu is now under the influence of a new coach, Dmitry Tursunov, and already demonstrated last week a return to the form that took her to the title last year with swinging abandon.

She will be determined to avoid a similar fate in New York but faces a tricky opener in France’s Alizé Cornet, who brought World No 1 Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak to end at Wimbledon, while things will be very different for the 19-year old at this year’s US Open, with everybody looking to down the reigning champion.

She faces a tough task against Cornet, who achieved a career-best Grand Slam result at the Australian Open this year in reaching the quarter-final, and the Frenchwoman also impressed at Wimbledon where she reached the 4th-round, which included that shock win over Swiatek.

If Raducanu comes through her opening two matches, then another difficult contest could await in the 3rd-round against former World No 1 Naomi Osaka, and matches only get tougher from there, with Aryna Sabalenka, Paula Badosa, Swiatek and Anett Kontaveit all potentially standing in Raducanu’s way of defending her title.

“I’m really looking forward to seeing the city,” Raducanu said last week. “But of course the tournament – I’ve got special memories there from the juniors, and then last year, obviously that happened. I’m looking forward to it.”

Raduanu and her team are taking a look back at her run to glory which ended with the title last September.

“I’m rewatching my matches from the US Open.” she said. “There are certain moments where I was given a lot of gifts [opponent errors] or maybe they got a bit tight.

“I think I’ve improved as a player. I’m finding freedom in my swinging.

“I think I achieved something great… but I was playing completely free [at last year’s Open]. I’m starting to do that again.”

Raducanu, who was seeded 10th in Cincinnati, was relatively untroubled over her exit after knocking out Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka in back-to-back matches.

“I did really enjoy this week. If I made an error, it was almost like a positive thing — good, you are going for it,” Raducanu said last week. “It paid off a lot more than it didn’t. But I also think, honestly, that my opponents have been playing a lot better this year.

“This week was a great step for me. It’s one of the few tournaments that I have actually started going for my shots.”

Serena Williams has enlisted Rennae Stubbs as her coach for her last appearance at the US Open

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While Swiatek, Raducanu and Naomi Osaka have landed in the top half, Williams and Coco Gauff have joined World No 2 Anett Kontaveit in the bottom half.

In her 21st and most likely last appearance at the US Open, Williams is drawn to face Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic, ranked 80 in the world, first up, someone she has never played before, and she could meet Kontaveit in the 2nd-round 2, after the Estonian opens against Romania’s Jaqueline Adina Cristian, who hit a career-high ranking of 58 earlier this year before suffering a knee injury that has kept her sidelined since February.

Kovinic, 27, peaked at a career-high ranking of No 46 in 2016, but has had her best career Grand Slam results this year, reaching the 3rd-round of both the Australian Open and Roland Garros, and knocking off Raducanu on her way there in Melbourne.

Other players to watch in the 4th quarter include Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur, the No 5 seed; 10th-seeded Daria Kasatkina, who won the US Open Series event in San Jose to start the summer; No. 14 seed Leylah Fernandez, last year’s Open finalist; and 23rd seed Barbora Krejcikova, who won Roland Garros and reached the US Open quarter-finals in 2021.

The latter two hope to recapture some of the form they showed at Flushing Meadows last year, but Krejcikova has been bothered this year by an elbow injury that kept her off the tour for 3 months, while Fernandez missed Wimbledon with a serious foot injury.

There is a dark horse in this section, too, Liudmila Samsonova, the unseeded 23-year-old who won the Citi Open in Washington, DC, last month, and is one of the hardest-hitting players on tour.

World No 1 Iga Swiatek is a favourite for the US Open title but has yet to progress beyond the 4th-round in New York

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Just last week in Cincinnati, Swiatek and 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens played in the 2nd-round and, if they can both win a match in New York, a rematch could be on the cards.

Poland’s Swiatek comes to the US Open looking to better her all-time best finish, which was reaching the 4th-round in 2020.

After seeing her season’s unbeaten streak end at Cornet’s hands at the All England Club, the world’s top-ranked player hopes to get back on track in the Big Apple, but she is just 4-3 in her last 3 events and looking for better form for a deep run.

Swiatek opens against Italy’s Jasmine Paolini, and leads a top quarter of the draw that also features 8th-seeded Jessica Pegula, the highest-ranked American, and other former major-winners Garbiñe Muguruza from Spain, Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko, Czech Petra Kvitova and Sofia Kenin from the USA.

Ostapenko faces a tough opening draw against 19-year-old Chinese talent Zheng Qinwen, while Kenin, a wild-card here as she is working her way back from a foot injury, opens against Germany’s Jule Niemeier.

Also drawn into Swiatek’s top quarter are America’s Amanda Anisimova and two-time quarter-finalist Elise Mertens from Belgium.

Paula Badosa heads the stacked 2nd quarter of the draw, which also features Emma Raducanu and Naomi Osaka

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The stacked second quarter of the draw is led by No 4 seed Paula Badosa from Spain, who has never made it past the 2nd-round of the Open, and lurking here are a whole host of players who know what it’s like to make deep runs at a Grand Slam tournament.

One of those is Badosa’s first opponent, Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko , who was a quarter-finalist here in 2018.

Joining Badosa in this quarter, in top seed Swiatek’s half, are a total of 8 players who have either won a Grand Slam singles title, reached a major final, or attained the No 1 ranking.

Two of them will face off in what might be the biggest blockbuster of round 1, namely 19th seed Danielle Collins from the US, the Australian Open finalist, who will face 4-time Grand Slam winner and former World No 1 Naomi Osaka from Japan.

Raducanu also fell into this section, and the Brit will have to be sharp from first ball against veteran Cornet, a woman who has done it all in her 15-year professional career and is set to play her 64th consecutive Grand Slam event, which is a new record among WTA players.

Providing Raducanu can get herself running, her biggest hurdle could be 6th-seeded Aryna Sabalenka in the 4th-round.

Venus Williams, a wild-card into the draw, is also in the mix, facing Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck in her opener and could be an opponent for reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in round 2.

This quarter features 4 seeds who have put together consistent success at the US Open, including 2019 semi-finalist and No.12 seed Belinda Bencic, three-time finalist Azarenka, 2021 semi-finalist, No 6 seed Sabalenka and 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova.

3rd-seeded Maria Sakkari anchors the toughest quarter of the draw, with Coco Gauff and Simona Halep among the challengers

© Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images

The third quarter of the draw is the toughest section, anchored by No 3 seed and last year’s semi-finalist Maria Sakkari from Greece and Toronto champion and 7th seed Simona Halep of Romania.

Sakkari opens against Germany’s Tatjana Maria, who herself reached the penultimate round at Wimbledon this summer.

Also landing in this quarter are 12th seed Coco Gauff from the US, Cincinnati champion Caroline Garcia from France and Cincy semi-finalist Madison Keys, another American.

Two weeks ago, Halep defeated Gauff on her way to winning the title at the National Bank Open presented by Rogers in Toronto, a win that took her back into the world’s Top 10, and the two are primed for a hard-court rematch in the 4th-round.

Halep beat left-hander Beatriz Haddad Maia to win that title, and the Brazilian hopes to take the next step in her second Open main draw in what has been a break-out season for her.

She will have a tough road, though, as the No 15 seed faces former quarter-finalist Ana Konjuh from Croatia for starters, and could have a date with Canada’s 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu in the next round, while a resurgent 17th-seed Garcia, a former World No 4, could await down the track.

There will be plenty of prize money at stake when players take the court at the 2022 US Open, with the singles champion taking home $2.6 million from a record total purse of $60.1 million, surpassing last year’s mark of $57.5 million.

A major reason for the larger pot is the further allocation of prize money to those who are eliminated in the earlier rounds, with $80,000 for those who make the main draw and $121,000 if they reach the 2nd-round.

Those who are eliminated in the quarter-finals will take home $445,000, while a loss in the semi-finals will make $705,000 and the runner-up will receive $1.3 million.

The US Open starts on Monday, 29 August 2022 and ends on Sunday 11 September 2022, with all matches streamed live on Amazon Prime from 4pm onwards in the UK and through the night.

To watch the tennis on Amazon Prime, you will need a subscription of £7.99 per month or £79 per year to be able to watch on your TV, laptop, and other smart devices.



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