US Open WTA preview: Predicting what happens in each quarter

(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
(Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images) /

For the first time in several majors, the women’s world number-one ranking will be up for grabs at the US Open.

Current number one and defending US Open champion Iga Swiatek will need to finish one round better than Aryna Sabalenka to retain the top ranking, a spot she has not relinquished since April 2022. Both Swiatek and Sabalenka have relatively smooth paths to the second week.

In this article, I will break down what could happen in each quarter of the US Open draw on the women’s side. There should be some excellent tennis played. But who will be ranked number one when the tournament is done?

Predicting the US Open women’s side to the quarterfinals

Swiatek’s Quarter: Potential Rematch with Gauff Looms

Swiatek will open her title defense against Sweden’s Rebecca Peterson. The first projected seed in her path is Elisabetta Cocciaretto, a player who has never won a round at the US Open.

Swiatek’s biggest hurdle to reaching the quarterfinals will likely be 2017 French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko. Ostapenko remains one of the most dangerous players on tour. She is capable of hitting through any player, as she did when she upset Coco Gauff at the Australian Open this year.

Coco Gauff anchors the bottom section of Swiatek’s quarter. Gauff will open against a qualifier and then could play 16-year-old Mirra Andreeva in the second round. Big hitters Danielle Collins and Petra Kvitova also find themselves in this section, as does two-time US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki. Kvitova has never advanced past the quarterfinals in New York but could pose a mighty challenge for Gauff should they meet in the 4th round.

Predicted Quarterfinalists: Swiatek, Gauff

Rybakina’s Quarter: Opportunity Knocks

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina finds herself in perhaps the most open quarter of the draw. However, she was drawn a brutal first round against Marta Kostyuk. Kostyuk narrowly missed out on being seeded and should play Rybakina very tightly. Should she get past Kostyuk, Rybakina could play a resurgent Sorana Cirstea in the third round and Victoria Azarenka or Belinda Bencic in the fourth round.

The lower half of this quarter is buoyed by Maria Sakkari and Karolina Muchova. Muchova has been in good form this summer, making her first final at a WTA 1000 event. Muchova also beat Sakkari in Cincinnati and at the French Open this year. Former champion Sloane Stephens also appears in this section as an unseeded danger.

Predicted Quarterfinalists: Rybakina, Muchova

Pegula’s Quarter: Pegula Dealt Tough Draw

Jessica Pegula enters the US Open playing some of her best-ever tennis. Pegula won her second career WTA 1000 title in Montreal and has rightfully appeared at home on the American hard courts. Form aside, Pegula was issued a difficult draw. Pegula opens against giant killer Camila Giorgi. Giorgi, the 2021 Montreal champion, has a highly explosive game that can beat anyone when she is on.

If she advances past Giorgi, Pegula could find herself meeting Elina Svitolina in the third round. Svitolina has reached the quarterfinals or better in the last two majors. The winner of that match is projected to face Montreal finalist Liudmila Samsonova in the fourth round.

Elsewhere in this quarter, Wimbledon champion Marketa Vondrousova will begin against a qualifier. Former US Open champion Bianca Andreescu or former finalist Leylah Fernandez could meet Vondrousova in the third round. Caroline Garcia is the second-highest seed in the quarter but is not playing the type of tennis that saw her make the semifinals of this event last year.

Predicted Quarterfinalists: Vondrousova, Pegula

Sabalenka’s Quarter: Is Another Battle with Jabeur in the cards?

Second seed Aryna Sabalenka will start her journey towards the title and number one ranking against Belgium’s Maryna Zanevska. Sabalenka could play a turbulent Karolina Pliskova in the third round. Pliskova has been struggling, but is a former US Open finalist and should not be overlooked.

Based on seeding, Sabalenka’s fourth-round opponent would be Daria Kasatkina. However, Kasatkina has a slew of dangerous players in her way, including Donna Vekic, Sofia Kenin, and the winner of the heavily anticipated match between Paula Badosa and Venus Williams.

Last year’s finalist Ons Jabeur or former French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova are the favorites to meet Sabalenka in the quarterfinals. However, keep an eye out for rising star Zheng Qinwen, who is steadily becoming a force on tour.

Predicted Quarterfinalists: Zheng, Sabalenka

Next. John McEnroe has strong views on Djokovic, Alcaraz, and Swiatek. dark