US Open preview: Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova favorites


Professional tennis instructor Florian Meier ( is back reviewing the favorites for the 2011 US Open (his previous guest post on Women’s Tennis Blog was an analysis of Sabine Lisicki’s game). Even though world No.1 Caroline Wozniacki won the New Haven Open this weekend, the Dane is not high on Florian’s list of favorites. Leaders are Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova. Enjoy Florian’s introduction to the US Open!

The US Open starts on Monday and it looks like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have the best chances for the title. Let’s quickly review the recent action on the women’s tour and then look at the upcoming US Open, which is certainly one of the most exciting tournaments of the year.

The US Open 2011

The US Open Series

Over the last 8 weeks the US Open Series was played out and Serena Williams ended up in first place in the US Open Series rankings. In case she wins the US Open tournament she would receive a $1 million dollar bonus on top of the regular prize money.

Serena is back to top form and did not lose a match in the US Open Series until pulling out of the second round in Cincinnati to rest a troublesome right big toe. She won the tournament in Stanford and the week after she won the Premier-level event in Toronto.

Toronto finals highlights: Serena Williams in top form

US Open Preview

Looking at the upcoming tournament there is no doubt to me that Serena is the favourite to win the US Open.

Since she won the US Open Series, Serena can now compete for the biggest paycheck in tennis history. If she wins the US Open she will collect $2.8 million dollars. She would get $1.8 million for winning the US Open, and a $1 million dollar bonus for winning both the US Open Series and the US Open. I believe this provides some extra motivation for Serena, especially since she hadn’t played for almost a year.

The other player next to Serena that I see with good chances to win the title is Maria Sharapova.

Sharapova has improved consistently over the last few months. I think she has been working really hard in order to put herself in position to contend for another major. She did well in the US Open Series, winning the Premiere-level event in Cincinnati and she also has the belief and the experience that are usually necessary to win a Grand Slam tournament. For her a lot depends on whether she gets her serve going or not.

The rest of the field is pretty wide open but I see a small group of players with outsider chances to win the title:

1. Vera Zvonareva
2. Agnieszka Radwanska
3. Andrea Petkovic
4. Sam Stosur
5. Sabine Lisicki

Vera Zvonareva has good memories from last year’s US Open where she reached the finals. The fast surface suits her flat shots very well and she also played pretty solid since Wimbledon.

Agnieszka Radwanska has done really well in the US Open Series, finishing in a tied second place, and she seems to be playing very good tennis right now. Nevertheless she has never gone past the quarterfinals of a major and it will have to be seen whether she is mentally ready to contend for a Grand Slam title.

Andrea Petkovic has been improving on a consistent basis. She reached the quarterfinals of the Australian Open and French Open this year. I don’t think she was mentally ready to take it a step further, but she might be now with a little more experience.

Sam Stosur has a very dangerous game on a fast court with her big serve and big forehand. After going through somewhat of a slump earlier in the year she has shown some strong form recently, reaching the finals of the Toronto event. She has also been to a Grand Slam final and knows what it’s like.

Sabine Lisicki surprised many people by reaching the Wimbledon semifinals this year. Most experts in the circuit were long aware though that she has a great game and the ability to beat anybody in the world if she can stay mentally tough. In addition, this weekend she won the Texas Tennis Open.

I have not mentioned Caroline Wozniacki, the number 1 player in the world, because she seems to be out of form. She was victorious at the New Haven Open, but had not won a single match in the US Open Series previously. I doubt that she has the game at the moment to compete for the title at the US Open.

The draw

It’s interesting thing to note that Serena Williams is seeded at number 28. The tournament officials decided to seed her according to her ranking and not make an exception because she was injured for so long.

Serena and Maria are in opposite halves so that would make a final between the two possible. Serena could also face number 4 seed, Victoria Azarenka, in the third round already, which I am sure Azarenka is not very happy about.


Taking the results from the US Open Series and all the current events into account, I believe Serena Williams is a big favourite to win the US Open title. Next up is Maria Sharapova who is also playing well and has what it takes to win a major. All the other players will most likely have only outsider chances to contend for the last major of the year.

Florian Meier is a professional tennis instructor from Germany. He specializes in improving players through the use of Tennis Video Instruction. He wants to reach tennis players from all over the world with his website Online Tennis Instruction. (photos: © Neal Trousdale)


  1. Florian is not taking into account that Serena is injured. The injury was bad emough that she had to withdraw from her US Open Series tournament. Azarenka is also injured. How can he count Wozniacki out when she seems to be peaking at just the right moment. She beat a far better field in New Haven than Lisicki beat in Texas. I love Lisicki and like the picks above although Radwanska (plays her sister in the 1st round tomorrow) is injured as is Petkovic. After Sharapova I would pick Wozniacki, Zvonareva and Lisicki in that order.
    Galina Voskoboeva had to play in the qualifiers and now plays Schiavone in the first round. Is that fair – after all she has been hurt most of 2010 but gave Sharapova her last defeat? Venus and Bea were the next two players not to get seeds. Is that fair? The US Open goes by the rules unlike Wimbledon. Serena is seeded by what she has earned just like any other player.

  2. I’m totally agree with you Florian! Serena is the big favorite and Maria’s the second! I think they will reach the final!
    Bolan, there are injuries and INJURIES, serena’s one is an injurie, is not serious! but i can’t talk with you because you don’t understand sports, specially tennis! You live in a bubble where you think that wozniacki is a GREAT player, but she isnt’t she is a great player ..hahahaha

  3. I would love to see Serena win it. While she has a chance, I don’t think she will. Amazingly,she won those 2 recent titles without playing her best tennis, and she seemed to lack her usual fierce energy and aggression, which she must have to win a major. People questioned whether the toe injury was legit, so that may not even be a factor. There have been a lot of big upsets recently, which tells me that the newcomers are hungry and getting wise to the games of the veterans-especially Wozniacki, despite her New Haven title. Some of the others seem to be worn out right now. Although the men love to dispute it, the women’s field is very deep right now, which is a good thing. It should be fun all the way through, and the debates will be lively, for sure.

  4. I’m driving to NYC in a few minutes. We soon will see who wins!! In 8 hours I’ll be courtside! Brenda – you are a very bad girl! Wozniacki is number 1. Have some respect! In tennis, the player that is currently hot should be the favorite. I’d pick Serena if she hadn’t been injured, but I hurt my big toe 2 months ago and it still bothers me.

  5. If Serena is healthy, and continues her form from the US open series, she’ll win it. Although she’s still not in top form, she’s still far above others. Maria has a chance, but her serve is still an issue. If she keeps it under control in big matches, she has a chance. As for the others, they’re eather out of form, or pretty mentally unstable, so it’s hard to tell.

  6. From the facts that I could gather on the injury I do not think Serena is seriously injured. If there was a real problem she would have pulled out a lot earlier in the US Open Series I think to make sure she is ready for the US Open.

    I don’t think Wozniacki plays aggressive enough to win a major if there is one of the other top players like Serena Williams or Kim Clijsters in top form. Clijsters is not playing but on the fast hard courts there are plenty of players that can really hurt Wozniacki with fast flat shots in my opinion.

    Those are just my thoughts of course and we will find out soon. Should be exciting!

  7. From the facts available I do not think Serena has a serious injury. I believe that she would have pulled out of the US Open Series with the slightest problem to make sure she is ready for the US Open.

    As for Wozniacki I think she does not play aggressive enough to win a Grand Slam if there are other top players like Serena or Kim Clijsters in top form. Clijsters is not playing of course but there are plenty of other girls that can hurt Wozniacki with their fast flat shots on this fast hard court.

    Those are just my thoughts of course and we will find out soon. Should be exciting!

  8. I agree with Florian, I suppose Serena’s injury is not serious and despite everything I don’t see Caroline with the US Open title this time. Maria had a really big challenge yesterday but that still doesn’t mean she is not able to reach the final and win it.



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