It is late August 2017, the tennis season is a 3/4 to it's end. If you are interested in consulting some kind of crystal ball on the seriously prospective ladies' champions of the very last grand slam of the year, this is the article for you.
It will be a tough one...
Photo credit: Yahoo
The prediction of grand slam champions in the ladies' professional tennis game is notoriously difficult. Although you could create a list of the most promising ones in the handful, these hopefuls very often succumb to some hitherto unknown or lower-tier player. To make this point - from the 2015 Australian Open to the Wimbledon tournament of 2017, there were 11 different finalists in the ladies' game. On the other hand for the mens' game there were 6 different finalists during that same tennis period. Sure, such a task may be more tedious when undertaken in the ladies' department, but we will brave the challenge nonetheless. We shortlisted 5 players, ranked in order of their chances at seizing the US Open crown.
Here we go...
Garbiñe Muguruza (1)
Photo credit: The Indian Express
I'm, like,( it's) so quick and a lot of things have happened in between( the two Wimbledons). I mean, I can't believe it.- Garbiñe Muguruza
The near future is extremely bright for Garbiñe Muguruza. She has performed exceedingly well across the board for the past three tournaments - winning 2 of them in straight sets and losing the eventual champion of the one in which she did not. Her miserably poor (she must have felt so) US Open performances in the past two years might just be screaming at her number one ranking on this list, but performance measure against such a long time frame holds little to no importance, in the calculations specific to the objectives of this article. We are talking about the coming of tsunamis here and not 2-year weather patterns. In the last 2 months, Garbiñe Muguruza has given off strong signs that very probably signifies such a tsunami. Her 6-0 6-1 trouncing of 2015 US Open semi-finalist not only more than made up for the mentioned terrible US Open and US Open series performances in 2015 and 2016 - portending that this would be a brightly different one - but maintained a wave a momentum starting from her Wimbledon win which would no doubt give her the psychological edge over all the other players upon the start of the US Open. In a sports scene like the ladies' professional tennis game in which the winning odds are constantly in flux, performance statistics (long-term or short-term) do not count as much as we think they do. Garbiñe Muguruza has the whole package in terms of her technical game. A slight technical flaw (she does not turn her whole body upon hitting the ball making her inflexible at times) and probable problem with her consistency notwithstanding, she has the explosive power suited for the fast courts of the US Open. Behold this young star everyone, she just might just storm the tournament and capture its trophy in a swift campaign of shock-and-awe.
Venus Williams (2)
Photo credit: The Sun
I’ve been in a position a lot of times this year to contend for big titles. That’s the kind of position I want to keep putting myself in. It’s just about getting over the line. I believe I can do that.- Venus Williams
In a seeming fantasy of an amazing parallel with the Federer-Nadal late-age resurgence which took the mens' game by storm this year, the Williams-Williams rivalry was brought back to center stage at the Australian Open 2017. Arguably such an anachronism is much more remarkable than the mens' one, since with such we step back in time to 2001, while the Federer-Nadal revival brings us back to 2006. What is of more importance in our evaluation of Venus' chances than her ability to fitness-maintain in the face of age, is her seriously threatening (to all the other contenders for the US Open trophy) fundamentals. She has established herself over the years as a (in our opinion) a semi-legend. I mean, 7 grand titles confers upon you the status of a tennis legend in the mens' game, but for reasons of it having a lower 'significance-of-each-grand-slam-win' inflation level. However, what is more and probably most important (at least on the front of our minds) factor in the evaluation of her chances is the shock factor is currently carrying. In spite of her not-as-stunning performances int the lesser WTA tournaments, she has reached 2 grand slam finals out of the 3 she has played so far. Possessing a strong attacking game suited for the hard courts of Flushing Meadows, Venus Williams has the technical requirements needed to successfully undertake the challenges the US open will bring. Muguruza or Williams? We choose Muguruza, but deem Williams' chances of striking champion not too far behind.
Karolína Plíšková (3)
Photo credit: Eurosport Australia
I'm having a great start to the year, which is always important. Last year was a breakthrough. (Reaching) the U.S. Open final was my biggest result. It gave me a lot of confidence - Karolína Plíšková
Falling just behind Venus Williams is the rankings is this underrated aggressive base-liner from the Czech Republic. To start off, she has the 'fundamentals' needed for success on the hard court. Although she is noticeably slower on the court than the other players listed here, she arguably more than made up for this deficiency with her powerful, accurate shots (particularly those launched from the baseline.) The courts in the US Open are the fastest amongst the four, and thus are the most accommodating to the winners that helps her to score points. Think of her as the Wawrinka in the womens' game - both possess this 'lock-and-load' game style whereby they take significantly longer to unleash a typical shot of theirs, trading agility for power in the process. Their parallels in terms of grand slam performance is striking - both have done poorly at the Wimbledon where their lack of agility proves fatal on a surface where the ball travels low and forward. Such 'fundamentals' aside, Plíšková has been performing well since the 2016 US Open final, reaching the quartefinals of this year's Australian Open and the semifinals of this year's Rolland Garros. With good such 'fundamentals' and odds, we believe it is quite probable this year's US Open title might be hers.
Simona Halep (4)
Photo credit: Metro
I wasn't surprised (by the upsets), it is normal, everyone is fighting like crazy because it's the last grand slam (of the year).- Simona Halep
Occupying our number 4 spot is another massively underrated Simona Halep. If Muguruza and Venus Williams were included in this list for the reason of their shock potentials, Simona Halep is here largely because of her very strong fundamentals. An exceptional aggressive counter-puncher, she has the speed and agility to perform well in the hard court rallies, and an impressive striking ability that could easily catch her foe off-guard as she changes from offensive to defensive and back like lightning. Her tenacity on court is Amazonian - what she lacks in muscles she more than made up for in transparent doggedness. With such strong fundamentals, she just might reach her first US Open finals or even win it.
Angelique Kerber (5)
Photo credit: The Hindu
It’s hard to become a champion without hard work, great concentration, determination and dedication on and off-court.- Angelique Kerber
Grit is not the only trait shared by Kerber and Nadal. Both of them are exceptionally talented defenders, the only difference being that such defensive qualities worked results on a different court surfaces. Kerber - ironically - has historically suffered on the clay, having attained a best result of quarterfinal (in 2012) for Rolland Garros. Her defensive prowess has gained her impressive results during the 2016 season, winning her the Australian Open and US open titles, and landing her in the finals of Wimbledon. Her 'fundamentals' are second to none in her own way - in our opinion she is the best counter-puncher of the womens' game. Caroline Wozniacki used to hold that title for a long while by convention, but her failure to secure a grand slam title has made it clear to a lot of us that the more effective counter-punching style is that of aggressive defense, not just well... defense. Kerber is the shining example of such aggressive counterpunching, producing results with her punchy counter-punching shots that the former lodestar of counterpunching in the females game did not. However, the 'fundamentals' are not everything - Kerber has been struggling with her form so far this year and has not managed to reach beyond the round of 16 in the last 3 grand slams. Her 1st round loss at Cincinnati is just further testament to the current sloppiness in her playing quality. For such a reason she is the least probable champion out of the five who made the list here. You have won grand slams and have the potential to win another one sometime in the future, but I don't think we would see you holding that 2017 US Open trophy Angelique
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