Although it pained me to see Laura Robson exit the 2013 US Open, the consolation is that another one of my favorites, Li Na, was the one who bounced her out. Li Na is probably the player I look at if there is a darkhorse contender this year. Clearly, Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka are the favorites until proven otherwise. Also, Li Na’s penchant for streaky play can make her difficult to pick as a possible winner. However, if she can keep her emotions contained, or at least channel them in a positive direction, she could make a lot of noise. She has some serious roadblocks in her way. Next up is Jelena Jankovic, who is playing with a renewed vigor and skill that hasn’t been seen for at least a year and half. JJ is getting closer and closer to looking similar to the player she was when she was ranked #1 and a top 10 fixture. Even if Li Na can somehow get by Jankovic, there is a strong possibility she would face Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarters. On paper, I would favor Aga in that match-up. So the road is rocky for Li Na. She can win the US Open if she gets hot. But it won’t be easy.
Another huge match-up is Sloane Stephens vs Serena Williams. Will Serena fall again to Sloane Stephens, as she did at the year’s first Major, the Australian Open. Maybe. Maybe not. I don’t want to take anything away from Sloane, because she does play her best at the Majors it seems. However, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that Serena was not 100% when they played in Melbourne. But should Sloane beat Serena again, she would send a huge statement through the tennis world. Can’t wait to see this one.
Serena Williams (1) vs. Yaroslava Shvedova 6-3, 6-1 final
Jelena Jankovic (9) vs. Kurumi Nara 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) final
Carla Suarez Navarro (18) vs. Jie Zheng 6-2, 6-4 final
Agnieszka Radwanska (3) vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (32) 6-4, 7-6 (7-1) final
Na Li (5) vs. Laura Robson (30) 6-2, 7-5 final
ALL PICS CLICK TO ENLARGE