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The Ultimate Guide To The US Open Women’s Draw

Who is defending the most points? Who is in with a chance of becoming world No.1? Ubitennis takes a closer look at the Women’s draw.

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In the city that never sleeps are 128 women hoping to fulfil their dream of becoming the 2019 US Open women’s champion.

 

The final grand slam of the season takes place at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center located in Flushing Meadows, New York. The venue is home to the Arthur Ashe stadium. A 23,771 capacity tennis stadium, which is the largest in the world. Over the next two weeks the likes of Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, Serena Williams and more will be fighting for grand slam glory and $3.85 million in prize money.

Here are the things to know about the 2019 draw.

The race to world No.1

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Four different players have the chance of exiting the US Open as world No.1. Naomi Osaka currently has a 105-point lead over second placed Ash Barty. Meanwhile, both Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep are also in with a shout of dethroning Osaka.

Osaka faces a tough task of keeping hold of her top spot and is required to defend her title to even have a chance. Should she win the US Open, the Japanese player could still lose her position if Barty reaches the quarter-finals or Pliskova reach the semi-final.

French Open champion Barty is the player in the strongest position. Given the fact she is defending almost 1800 fewer points than Osaka (240 compared to 2000). A run to the final would guarantee her the No.1 position no matter what as she is on course to play Pliskova in the semi-finals.

Pliskova is required to reach the quarter-finals to have a chance. Something the Czech has done in the past three editions of the tournament, including reaching the final back in 2016. Her best ever performance at a grand slam to date. Pliskova has a win-loss record of 16-6 at the US Open so far in her career.

Finally, Halep is required to win the title if she wants to have the chance of becoming world No.1. A big ask for the Romanian who has only reached the semi-finals once in nine previous appearances.

No.1 scenarios via wtatennis.com

Who is defending the most points?

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Being the reigning champion 21-year-old Osaka is the player with the most at stake when it comes to ranking points. She will be defending 2000 points in Flushing Meadows, which is 20 times more than that of Simona Halep (10). Halep lost in the first round last year.

For some players a deep run could help them rise rapidly up the rankings. Bianca Andreescu has been somewhat of a revelation this season as she won titles in Indian Wells and at the Rogers Cup. She has nothing to defend so a run in New York will be nothing, but a bonus. She is currently just under 400 points away from her top 10 debut.

Meanwhile, there are three seeded players defending only 10 points – Halep, Johanna Konta and Belinda Bencic.

The top 16 seeds and the points they are defending

1. Naomi Osaka, Japan – 2000 points
2. Ashleigh Barty, Australia – 240 points
3. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic – 430 points
4. Simona Halep, Romania – 10 points
5. Elina Svitolina, Ukraine – 240 points
6. Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic – 130 points
7. Kiki Bertens, Netherlands – 130 points
8. Serena Williams, United States – 1300 points
9. Aryna Sabalenka, Belarus – 240 points
10. Madison Keys, United States – 780 points
11. Sloane Stephens, United States – 430 points
12. Anastasija Sevastova, Latvia – 780 points
13. Belinda Bencic, Switzerland – 10 points
14. Angelique Kerber, Germany – 130 points
15. Bianca Andreescu, Canada – 0 points
16. Johanna Konta, Great Britain – 10 points

The been there and done that group

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A closer look at the women’s draw illustrates the depth of the WTA Tour at present. 10 former world No.1 players (not counting current No.1 Osaka) and 15 grand slam champions are participating. The most decorated of those is 23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams. A player who had spent 319 weeks as world No.1. The third longest streak in history after Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova.

Out of those 15 grand slam winners, eight previously triumphed at the US Open. Although only two of those have won in New York on multiple occasions. Venus Williams (2000-2001) and sister Serena (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-2014).

Past US Open champions participating
Angelique Kerber (2016)
Svetlana Kuznetsova (2004)
Naomi Osaka (2018)
Maria Sharapova (2006)
Samantha Stosur (2011)
Sloane Stephens (2017)
Serena Williams (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012-14)
Venus Williams (2000-01)

Serena’s slam goal

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Since returning to tennis following the birth of her daughter, it has been a case of so near, but so far for 37-year-old Williams. She has contested the final in three out of the past five grand slams. However, she has lost them all in straight sets. The most high-profile was at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago where she engaged in a tense confrontation with umpire Carlos Ramos. Who will not be umpiring her matches this year.

Should Williams break the drought, she would finally draw level with Margaret Court for the most grand slam singles titles won by a woman. However, the American has already won more than anybody else in the Open Era.

There is also another milestone looming if Williams was to win the US Open. She would become the most successful female player in the Open Era in terms of match wins to play at the event. She currently has 95 victories to her name, which is second to Chris Evert’s tally of 101. Should she claim the title, Williams would increase her number to 102.

Williams will play Maria Sharapova in the first round on Monday. She has incredibly only lost an opening match at a grand slam once out of 72 appearances. That was to Virginie Razzano at the 2012 French Open.

The old and the young

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24 years separates the oldest competitor from the youngest in this year’s draw. Wild card entrant Cori Gauff has gained a surge in media attention in recent months following her run to the Wimbledon fourth round. At the age of 15, she is one of the youngest women to ever contest the main draw. In total five out of the eight wild card entrants this year are under the age of 17.

[WC] GAUFF, COCO (USA) 15
[WC] PARRY, DIANE (FRA) 17
[WC] OSUIGWE, WHITNEY (USA) 17
[WC] VOLYNETS, KATIE (USA) 17
[WC] MCNALLY, CATHERINE (USA) 17

At the other end of the spectrum, Venus Williams is showing no signs of slowing down at the age of 39. She is one of 25 women in the draw aged over 30. The US Open will be Venus’ 84th appearance in a grand slam main draw. She made her grand slam debut at the 1997 French Open. Seven years before Gauff was born.

Osaka’s title defence

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It was 12 months ago when Osaka became the first Asian woman in history to claim a major title. Triggering a surge in her popularity with both fans and sponsors. Seeking to defend her title, the top seed hopes to join an elite list. Just 15 players have managed to defend a title at the US Open since the end of the second world war in 1945. Furthermore, over the past 20 years only three players have achieved the milestone – both of the Williams sisters and Kim Cjisters.

“I think going to Indian Wells and kind of learning how defending champion pressure feels, I think it definitely helped me out going into this tournament,” Osaka said ahead of her title defence. “Because I just feel more loose and comfortable here. I’m not sure if it’s because the last couple of months have been kind of turbulent, but definitely I feel really comfortable and I know that, despite everything, I play well here every year. So I’m not too worried about that.”

This year is the first time Osaka has been seeded in the top 16 at Flushing Meadows. Should she win, she will become the ninth woman in the Open Era to claim three grand slam titles on hard courts.

Grand Slam

REPORT: French Open Attendance To Be More Than Halved Amid COVID-19 Threat

It is understood that the number of fans allowed to attend daily has been cut by roughly 55%.

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This year’s French Open has been forced to dramatically reduce their initial plans for 11,500 daily visitors, according to information obtained by L’Equipe newspaper.

 

The number has reportedly been cut to just 5000 following a ‘governmental decision’ linked to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Organisers had originally set out plans for three separate zones with two holding up to 5000 people and an additional welcoming 1500. However, it has now emerged the new number will only be applied to one specific zone where the premier Philippe-Chatrier Court is located. Meaning that it is possible that matches played on courts Suzanne-Lenglen and Simonne-Mathieu will not be opened to the public.

In recent days France has seen a rise in coronavirus cases and reported 9784 new infections in the country on Wednesday. A slight dip of France’s all-time high of 10,561 which was recorded last Saturday. It is understood that the decision to reduce the crowd size at Roland Garros is also based on spikes in other countries apart from France.

There has been no official comment from the French Tennis Federation (FFT) but L’Equipe reports that the change has been made in line with new local government guidance. The ruling will have no impact on next week’s qualifying tournament which is being played behind closed doors.

Leading up to the clay-court major some players have voiced caution about attending the event with crowds. Outspoken player Nick Kyrgios, who is not playing in Paris this year, went as far as accusing organisers of not taking the pandemic seriously enough. Former champion Simona Halep has also voiced her own concerns.

“I just read that they will have fans,” Halep told reporters earlier this week. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be very strict.
“We cannot be with the fans, we cannot be with the people that are not in the bubble, so I think they will be separate. Hopefully it’s going to be safe, and we will feel like here, like in the bubble.”

The French Open will start on September 28th. Rafael Nadal and Ash Barty are the reigning champions but Barty will not be defending her title due to travelling concerns related to COVID-19.

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Grand Slam

‘Her Values Are Not What Tennis Stands For’ – Andy Murray Backs Calls To Rename Margaret Court Arena

The British tennis star is the latest top name to hit out at Court over her history of anti-gay comments.

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Three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray has said the Australian Open should consider renaming one of their premier courts after Margaret Court due to her controversial views.

 

The former world No.1 says 78-year-old Court, who holds the record for most singles Grand Slam titles won, doesn’t represent the values of the sport. Despite being one of Australia’s most decorated tennis players of all time, Court has a history of making various anti-gay views but maintains that she is not homophobic. She once said that the women’s tour was ‘full of lesbians‘ and during her playing career described rival Martina Navratilova as a ‘bad role model’ due to her sexuality. In other incidents she also boycotted Qantas airlines due to their support of marriage equality and publicly criticised former player Casey Dellacqua for having a baby with her same-sex partner.

Murray joins a list of figures calling for a change along with Martina Navratilova and John McEnroe who both held an on-court protest back in January calling for the name change. The Brit argues that the controversy surrounding Court takes focus away from tennis and this should not be the case. This year the Australian was honoured at the Melbourne major with a low-key event to mark the 50th anniversary of her calendar Grand Slam.

“She has obviously offended and upset a lot of people over the years. I think the players certainly have spoken up, which is a positive thing,” Murray told pridelife.com.
“As far as renaming the venue. I think that yes, it’s something the sport should consider. I don’t know who makes the final decision on that but I don’t think her values are what tennis stands for. When you get to the Australian Open you want to concentrate on the tennis. Court’s views detract from that.”

Tennis Australia, who oversees the Australian Open, has previously distanced themselves from Court’s views. In a statement previously issued they said the decision to recognise the 50th anniversary of her triumph was solely due to her achievements and they do not endorse her views.

“Court was given a ceremony at the Australian Open this year to mark her achievements in the game, but the reception she received from the public was lukewarm,” Murray commented.

The issue of gay rights is rarely spoken about in the world of men’s tennis. Unlike the women’s game there are no openly gay male players and only a handful have publicly spoken about their sexuality in recent years. The most well known being former top 100 American player Brian Vahaly who came out after he retired from the sport.

“I think, certainly in men’s tennis, there have been a number of players who have come out as gay, but not while they’re competing. I think there’s still a stigma around it which obviously shouldn’t be the case,” said Murray.

There are various theories about the reasons where there may be no openly gay players on the Tour. Murray says he has never witnessed or heard homophobic comments whilst playing in the sport, but admits that it may be different if somebody did come out.

“I wouldn’t say that I have heard it in the locker room. If more gay men came out it’s something you might see more of potentially,” he explained.
“There have been a few things said in articles I’ve read where players have made homophobic comments, but I’ve not been in the presence of anyone when they have made homophobic comments in the locker room.”

Murray will return to action in less than two weeks time at the French Open in Paris.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams French Open Over Crowd Decision

The world No.41 explains why he is ‘disappointed’ with the French major as other players also voice caution about playing in front of crowds.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has accused officials at the French Open of not taking the COVID-19 pandemic seriously following their decision to allow spectators to attend.

 

The clay-court Grand Slam has created three separate zones where fans are allowed to attend with each of those having a daily capacity limit. The zones including court Philippe Chatrier and Suzanne Lenglen will hold up to 5000 each. Meanwhile an additional 1500 spectators will be allowed to visit the area surrounding the third court, Simonne Mathieu. The French Tennis Federation (FFT) says strict measures will be in place and their plans have been drafted following ‘advice from a committee of expert scientists.` Masks must be worn at all times by those attending.

Despite the measures that have been put in place, former top 20 player Kyrgios has criticised the move amid the number of cases in the country. France has recently seen a surge in their daily toll. On Tuesday they reported 7852 newly confirmed cases within a 24-hour period compared to 6158 the day before. Last Saturday the number surpassed the 10,000 mark.

“I am most likely not going to play,” Kyrgios told News Corp.
“Especially with the cases rising there. I don’t feel comfortable to go there and play.
“They are thinking about doing it with crowds. I don’t think the tournament is taking it seriously. It’s disappointing the level of seriousness they are taking towards it.”

Kyrgios hasn’t played a competitive match since February after choosing to skip the North American swing over concerns related to the pandemic. A decision that was also taken by the likes of Rafael Nadal and Simona Halep. Although he also previously hinted that it is unlikely that he will be travelling to Europe this year and therefore ending his season early. A approach that was also taken by compatriot Ash Barty.

The 25-year-old isn’t the only player to have express concerns about crowds at Roland Garros. 2018 champion Halep told reporters at this week’s Italian Open, which is being held behind closed doors, that she is hopeful that officials at the venue will be ‘strict’ with the measures.

“I just read that they will have fans,” she said. “But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be very strict.
“We cannot be with the fans, we cannot be with the people that are not in the bubble, so I think they will be separate. Hopefully it’s going to be safe, and we will feel like here, like in the bubble.”

Meanwhile, cautiously-speaking Nadal says it is a case of wait and see what happens in Paris. This year he is bidding to win the major for an historic 13th time.

“I don’t know what’s going on. I don’t know what’s the situation’s going to look like in Roland Garros,” he told journalists on Monday when questioned about the French Open.
“Let’s see how the virus evolves the next couple of weeks. Hopefully in a good way. Doesn’t look like that, no? Let’s see. We need to be patient and we need to wait to see how the situation improves.”

Unlike the main draw, the qualifying rounds will be held behind closed doors in order to make it easier for players to move around the venue. The tournament gets underway on September 21st with the main draw starting the week after.

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