Serena Williams Favored at 2011 U.S. Open

2011 US Open
By Hiland Doolittle, August 28th, 2011
Serena Williams Favourite for 2011 US Open

Serena Williams Favourite for 2011 US Open

Serena Williams has recently returned to the tour from painful foot injuries to post a 16-2 record and claim consecutive titles in Toronto and Stanford. It is a credit to her legacy how abruptly she has climbed the ranks to the role of favorite. Although seeded 28th, the 13-time Grand Slam winner and three time winner of the U.S. Open, Serena Williams will have to earn her way to the finals.

The 11/8 bookmaker favorite is placed in fourth ranked Victoria Azarenka’s quarterfinal bracket. This bracket is clearly the toughest in the draw and features other big time performers. Francesca Schiavone (100/1), powerful Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (66/1), Jelena Jankovic (25/1), Ana Ivanovic (66/1) Shahar Peer (100/1) and Azarenka (9/1) have all proven that they have the tools and experience to win on the big stage.

Azarenka, the bookmaker’s fourth choice, probably did not expect to meet a player with Serena’s ability in the third round. The winner of that match will have the inside track to the finals. Winning the bottom bracket on page one will make the semifinals look relatively easy.

The top seed in the tournament is Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki (16/1). Caroline has not performed well in majors. However, the blonde Danish bombshell has earned every win and title that is in her resume. That includes five titles this season and more than $2,200,000 in earnings. Her 49-12 record leads the tour in victory, a record she has held for the past two years.

Wozniacki’s bracket gives her a better than average chance to make it the semifinals. 21st seed Daniela Hantuchova (80-1) has given Caroline some difficulty in the past but would not meet the top seed until the Round of Sixteen. Other possible roadblocks are Svetlana Kuznetsova (50/1) Roberta Vinci (100/1), Kaia Kanepi (200/1) can pull and upset.

Wozniacki’s biggest challenges will come from either Andrea Petkovic (33/1), the six-foot German, who had a leg injury in Cincinnati, and China’s sixth seeded Na Li (16/1) can play through Wozniacki. However, the draw favors the Dane. She can certainly play her way to the semis. If Petkovic is healthy, she is the most likely quarterfinal opponent for the Dane. If Petkovic is not healthy, look for Na Li to give Wozniacki a tussle.

Second seeded Vera Zvonareva (16/1) did not look sharp in Cincinnati but has won two titles this season with a 45-15 record. Vera was in great shape when the season began but she put in a third performance in Cincy. In Zvonareva’s bracket, there is plenty of talent. Sabine Lisicki (20/1) has a big serve and is scheduled to meet Vera in the Sweet Sixteen. Other notables in the bracket are Australian Samantha Stosur (33/1), Nadia Petrova (100/1), Maria Kirilenko (150/1) and the eight seed Marion Bartoli (50/1).

On the surface this looks like a soft bracket. Zvonareva and Stosur would have to be considered the favorites to reach the semis were it not for unseeded Venus Williams (20/1). Venus has missed most of the season but has returned to the competitive scene. She has won the Open twice, been runner-up twice and has reached the semis four times. There is no player in this bracket with those credentials. The third round will feature Lisicki and Williams in a real battle of serves.

Third seeded Maria Sharapova (11/2) has had an inspired season. The leggy three seed has earned more than $2.6 million and she has won two titles. After a slow start, Sharapova is now 39-10 for the season. Few players enjoy the big stage as much as Sharapova. As the odds reflect, Maria can go the distance. If her erratic serve levels in the big matches, Sharapova may make the semifinals.

However, her bracket is loaded with talent. Flavia Pennetta (100/1), Aggie Radwanska (25/1) Shuai Peng (66/1), Germany’s Julia Goerges (33/1), Yanina Wickmayer (66/1) and Lucie Safarova (200/1) present a talented field. The most powerful roadblock for Sharapova is left-handed Czech Petra Kvitova (5/1) is the bookmaker’s second choice. Petra has won 4 titles this season including the Wimbledon Championship. She has also won more than $3.3 million in 2011. With 45 wins, Petra is challenging Wozniacki for most wins on tour this year.

The way it looks from her Petkovic will meet Wozniacki in one quarter final. The German will upset the top seed. Serena Williams will reign in the Azarenka bracket unless the foot injury that forced her out at Cincinnati. Lisicki will win Zvonareva’s bracket and face Petra Kvitova in the semis. Kvitova and Sharapova will have a power battle. As she did at Wimbledon, Kvitova’s serve will be the difference.

In the finals, Petra Kvitova will silence Serena Williams and claim the 2011 U.S. Open title.


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