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Meet the TOP 8 women's contenders at US Open

August 25, 2019 11:15 IST

Serena Williams has the US Open spotlight as she chases tennis history, but a host of Grand Slam winners and high-ranked rivals are also taking aim at the title.

The 37-year-old American will be the focus of attention when the Flushing Meadows fortnight begins Monday with her first-round night match against Russian Maria Sharapova the most anticipated of the women's openers.

Williams will try to capture her 24th Grand Slam singles title to match the all-time record set by Margaret Court. Seeded eighth, she could meet second-seeded French Open champion Ashleigh Barty of Australia in the quarter-finals.

She has not won a Slam since the 2017 Australian Open when she was pregnant, losing the US Open final to Osaka last year amid controversy and the past two Wimbledon finals -- including last month to Romania's Simona Halep.

Barty, Naomi Osaka, Halep and Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, seeking her first Slam title, are among the foes trying to deny her. 

Here are eight women to watch during the US Open, which starts on Monday (prefix number denotes seeding).

1-Naomi Osaka (Japan)

Naomi Osaka

Being consistent is something Osaka has yet to master. During a topsy-turvy 2019 season, she has won the Australian Open but then slumped out early at the next two majors. A third round exit at the French Open was followed by first round demise at Wimbledon.

A second straight US Open might be fitting after last year’s win was overshadowed by runner-up Serena Williams's row with the umpire.

2-Ash Barty (Australia)

The Australian has enjoyed a breakthrough season in which she won a maiden Slam at the French Open and also briefly climbed to the top of the world rankings.

She has had mixed results since triumphing at Roland Garros but remains a top threat.

3-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)

Karolina Pliskova

With the US Open being her most successful Slam, Pliskova will be hoping she can go one better than her runner-up finish in 2016.

Having already enjoyed a stint as world number one, she is still searching for that first Grand Slam trophy.

4-Simona Halep (Romania)

Simona Halep

After destroying Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final, the Romanian proved that she has what it takes to succeed on grass as well as clay, on which she won her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in 2018.

The former world number one will be hoping to carry that confidence into the US Open, where her last two appearances have ended in first-round defeats.

5-Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)

It has surprisingly been a barren year for Svitolina who capped off 2018 by winning the WTA Finals, which was her fourth title of the year.

Since capturing her first WTA title in 2012, Svitolina has won at least one trophy every season. But so far in 2019, she has failed to reach a final.

However, a semi-final run at Wimbledon would have given her a much needed boost and she will be looking to build on that in New York.

8-Serena Williams (US)

Serena Williams

The American has been stuck on 23 majors for over 2-1/2 years and desperately wants to win another to tie Australian great Margaret Court's all-time record of 24.

It is proving to be a difficult task for the 37-year-old who has lost her last three Grand Slam finals, including the controversial defeat to Osaka at Flushing Meadows in September 2018.

She will be fired up from the start this year though as first up for her will be a familiar foe -- Maria Sharapova.

10-Madison Keys (US)

The American and her powerful forehand seem to be best suited for the US Open, where she reached the final in 2017 and the semi-final a year ago.

Having won the Western & Southern Open in the run-up to the year's final slam, she will enter the tournament in top form.

Cori Gauff (US)

Cori Gauff

The 15-year-old took the tennis world by storm when, as a qualifier ranked 313 in the world, she beat five-times champion Venus Williams in the first round of Wimbledon.

Her heroics did not stop there as she also saved two match points against Polona Hercog to reach the last 16.

That sensational run earned her a main draw wildcard at Flushing Meadows, where she will be eager to show off her credentials as a future great.

Photographs: Reuters

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