U.S. Open women's seed report
It's hard to pick against Serena Williams, but plenty could derail her tourney run
Caroline Wozniacki has had a rough summer and her struggles could continue
Li Na hasn't done much since Roland Garros, but players her best tennis at Slams
SI.com's Jon Wertheim breaks down the women's seeds at the U.S. Open. Read on for the top first-round matchups, dark horses and predictions. Click here for the men's seed report.
1. Caroline Wozniacki: For her sake, and for the sake of staving off the inevitable 'what's-up-with-the-WTA?' critiques, you hope she gives a strong accounting of herself. But Woz's woes continued on the summer hardcourts. It's been a rough summer, though. And while she may emerge from New Haven with renewed confidence, she also leaves herself open to criticism playing the week before a Major.
2. Vera Zvonareva: After reaching consecutive Major finals last year, VZ has retreated into the quietest of No. 2's. Like Wozniacki, it's hard to see a player with so few weapons winning a Major.
3. Maria Sharapova: The champ five years ago, Sharapova is on the short list of contenders, especially after her run in Cincy. As always, her success rests largely on the state of her serve.
4. Victoria Azarenka: Getting to be put-up-or-shut-up time for Azarenka. (Actually, it's shut up time -- or at least quiet down time -- regardless.) The question is this: is she a champion? Or is she simply a top five player during a soft era. Big opportunities abounds, if she can get beyond Serena Williams in round three.
5. Petra Kvitova: Looked like a world-beater at Wimbledon. Finally, a champion who would fill the ....oh, what's that? She's crashed out of two events since?
6. Li Na: French Open champ hasn't done much since Roland Garros. Which could mean she's due for a strong result. Tends to play her best at Slams.
7. Francesca Schiavone: Such a fun, expressive players with a delightfully entertaining game. But there's little recent evidence, empirical or visceral, that she's capable of a deep run.
8. Marion Bartoli: Marion the Contrarian has been posting strong results in recent Slams, reaching the semis in Paris and "out-Serenaing" Serena in a big Wimbledon upset. Since then, her results have tailed off considerably. Still, she's a dangerous player. And even Dirk Nowitzki is amused by her on-court mannerisms.
9. Sam Stosur: Still another player who appeared poised to take advantage of the WTA's unsettled field -- only to regress. It's been a puzzling season for Stosur, a player long on physical tools and short on mental ones. She can salvage her year in New York. But this will depend on her confidence level as much as anything.
10. Andrea Petkovic: Fraulein Fun is still looking for a bona fide Slam breakthrough. But now's as good a time as any. She has a game that goes well with hard courts. She warms to the big crowds. Strap on those dance shoes.
11. Jelena Jankovic: A strong result in Cincinnati -- she was a few points from winning the trophy -- has to bolster her chances. A finalist three years ago, she's slipped since then.
12. Agnieszka Radwanska: A-Rad is finally getting some traction this year, as evidenced by her win in San Diego. Like Zvonareva, she lacks the wattage to win, but a week two cameo is a good possibility.
13. Shuai Peng: An intriguing pick. Some big wins, some injuries, and a tendency to fly under the proverbial sonar.
14. Domininka Cibulkova: A strong showing at Wimbledon fuels optimism, but another undersized player in the Zvonareva/Radwanska camp.
15. Svetlana Kuznetsova: How easily one forgets: Kuznetsova is one of the few players who have actually won the event. For such a self-possessed human being, she's become a major head case. So much talent; so many bad losses.
16. Ana Ivanovic: At what point does a slump cease becoming a slump and is simply the new normal? Come to think of it...starting with her collapse in the fall of 2008 (after hitting a record high) Ivanovic and the world financial markets track each other with eerie similarity.
17. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova: "Scrabble" as Brad Gilbertowiczenkovilli so delicately calls her, still hasn't had that breakthrough event. But her progress has been steady.
19. Julia Goerges: An intriguing player who posted big-time results in the spring only to retreat this summer.
22. Sabine Lisicki: A Wimbledon semifinalist, she is a top-10 player without the ranking to prove it.
27. Lucie Safarova: A streaky player who plays better, the better the opponent.
25. Daniela Hantuchova: A fragile player, but a fragile players who has found her game a bit of late.
28. Serena Williams: The body willing, how do you pick against her? Not only is she undefeated since Wimbledon, but the rest of the field is shrinking. Can Azarenka catch her on an off-day? Can she pull a hamstring? Can she lose her cool over line call? Anything can happen. But it's hard to tip anyone else as the favorite.
Venus Williams: Seeding be damned, she has to be part of the contender conversation. It's been (gulp) a decade since she's won in New York.
Tsvetana Pironkova: Wins at Wimbledon and is a non-entity most everywhere else. Can she make another mark at another Slam?
Aravene Rezai: Due largely to personal issues, her ranking is plummeted and she needed wild card. But she is a top-20 talent.
Mirjana Lucic v. qualifier: Lucic is a great story; and her winning her first match presents an opportunity to tell it.
Tamarine Tanasugarn v. Kaia Kanepi: All hail Tanasugarn, a top-50 player fifteen years ago!
Jill Craybas v. Madison Keys: A winnable match for Keys, a well-regarded American prospect.
Christina McHale v. Marion Bartoli. Okay, it's a second-rounder. But we anticipate nonetheless.
As with the men, the vulnerable top women (starting with Wozniacki) did not draw particularly formidable first round opponents.
Winner: Flavia Pennetta and Gisela Dulko
Semifinals: Petkovic v. Serena Williams; Sharapova v. Sabine Lisicki
Final: Serena v. Sharapova
Winner: Serena Williams
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