by Alastair Bull
Punters could be in for another turbulent women’s singles major after the defeat of the top seed on the first day of the U.S. Open.
Following on from Wimbledon, where none of the top-10 seeds made it to the quarter-finals, top seed Simona Halep was knocked out on day one by the unseeded Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-2 6-4. Kanepi is ranked 44th in the world.
Halep was near the top of the market but with just one major title to her credit and a first-round loss last year, she was perhaps a risky bet.
Attention inevitably turns to six-time winner Serena Williams, who has jumped to a +375 favorite in U.S. Open outright markets. Her effort to make the Wimbledon final clearly showed she had returned in style after time off due to the birth of her first child, but a subsequent first-round loss in San Jose (apparently after discovering the killer of her half-sister Yetunde had been released) and a second-round loss in Cincinnati gives some reason for doubt.
However, Williams has consistently shown an ability to up her game when the major tournaments arrive, and another strong run can be predicted – even with a possible third-round clash against her sister Venus on the cards.
Williams’ Wimbledon conqueror, Angelique Kerber (+700), is likely to be one to follow. Like Williams, she has won just one of her three matches since Wimbledon, but she is also a U.S. Open Women’s winner, having taken the title in 2016.
Second seed Caroline Wozniacki (+2200) finally won her first major earlier this year when beating Halep in the Australian Open, and she is a two-time finalist here, but her form hasn’t been great since her tournament victory at Eastbourne. Defending champion Sloane Stephens (+700) can be inconsistent but she made it through the first round and is capable of figuring in the final stages again.
The in-form player is Kiki Bertens (+1800) of the Netherlands, the winner at Cincinnati and a quarter-finalist at Montreal and Wimbledon. She and Petra Kvitova (+1400) have solid claims in the fourth quarter of the draw against Wozniacki.
Another good outside bet could be young Australian Ashleigh Barty, who won her first round match with ease following some solid recent form, but she will have to overcome Serena Williams to win her quarter at the 2018 U.S. Open.
Serena Williams, Angelique Kerber to win the tournament
Sloane Stephens to win second quarter (+200)