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U.S. Open women's seed report

Can Sharapova repeat? Or is a Williams sister lurking?

Posted: Thursday August 23, 2007 11:38AM; Updated: Thursday August 23, 2007 11:38AM
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Injuries, ugly losses and a lack of confidence have plagued Maria Sharapova since she won her second major last year in Flushing.
Injuries, ugly losses and a lack of confidence have plagued Maria Sharapova since she won her second major last year in Flushing.
Jessie Kluetmeier/SI
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SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the men's and women's seeds at the U.S. Open. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses to keep an eye on and his predicted winners.

The women's field is essentially a tale of two draws. One half features all three 2007 Grand Slam winners (Serena Williams, Justine Henin and Venus Williams) as well the two ascending Serbs, Jelena Jankovic and Ana Ivanovic. The other half features ... well ... providence, thy name is Sharapova.

Top 16 seeds

1. Justine Henin: Took a long time to return after that dismal Wimbledon loss to Marion Bartoli. But JH won in Toronto, playing typically savvy, unflustered tennis. Likely to play Serena Williams in the quarters for the third straight major. For our money, this is the de facto final.

2. Maria Sharapova: Last chance for '06 winner to redeem a generally lousy year. Yes, she's been struggling with a series of injuries, most notably to her serving shoulder. The lopsided losses in big matches suggest her confidence isn't what it once was. But with virtually every dangerous player quarantined to the other side of the draw, she should reach the final and could steal her third Slam.

3. Jelena Jankovic: There's plenty to like, both about her game and her Uzi-of-candor personality. But Hammerin' Jank still needs to take that final step and come away with a win on the biggest stages. Likely quarter against either Venus or Ivanovic ought to be thrilling.

4. Svetlana Kuznetsova: Since winning the tournament three years ago, she hasn't made many strides. She can hang with anyone, but tends to wilt against better players. Absence of competition could help her reach the semis.

5. Ana Ivanovic: Has the misfortune of facing Agnieszka Radwanska, Venus and Jankovic just to reach the semis! Winsome Serb will eventually, well, win some. But not here, not now.

6. Anna Chakvetadze: Chance to emerge from under the radar. Can she summon the nerves to beat Sharapova in the quarters? If so, she could be the event's breakout star.

7. Nadia Petrova: We've been burned in the past for touting her, but when her head is on straight and she's not self-flagellating, she's a top-tier player. A semifinal performance is hardly out of the question, especially given her draw.

8. Serena Williams: Obviously the big question is, "How's the thumb?" If it's healed, it's not hard to see her drawing support from the crowd and exacting some revenge on Henin. If she's still injured, Henin wins the match and, thus, the tournament.

9. Daniela Hantuchova: Can't complain about her draw, but she has fallen into a "make the middle weekend and then bow out quietly" rut.

10. Marion Bartoli: Failed to build on her smashing Wimbledon result on summer hard courts, but suddenly showed signs of life in Canada. Alas, she's in the Henin-Serena quarter and ain't surviving that.

11. Patty Schnyder: Loopy lefty tends to flame out early at the Open. She had a reasonable shot at the quarters thanks to the draw gods, but she's no threat to win.

12. Venus Williams: The big wild card. If she finds her Wimbledon form, she's thoroughly capable of winning the title for the third time. If not, it's hard to see her bluffing her way through Ivanovic and Jankovic.

13. Nicole Vaidisova: She's in the throes of an underwhelming year -- due in part to a bout with mono -- and the sponsor pressure is surely turned on high. On the other hand, she's in the mushy half of the draw. What better player is there to break through in New York?

14. Elena Dementieva: She's no longer an elite player, but she likes hard courts and has had her share of success at the Open.

15. Dinara Safina: Still another fine player consigned to the Henin-Serena quarter.

16. Martina Hingis: On the (gulp) 10th anniversary of her U.S. Open title, this is her last chance to salvage a disappointing year.

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