Serena Williams and Simona Halep are the two favourites in the US Open women’s draw, but the pair are on course for an early meeting in the final major of the year.
Should both players progress they will meet even before the quarter-final stage as Williams has been seeded 17 – Serena will also likely have to beat sister Venus to go deep in New York.
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Serena Williams last won at Flushing Meadows in 2014 and there have been three different victors of the tournament in the last three years, but the bookmakers are backing her to collect a first major trophy since the birth of her first child.
That would be a magnificent achievement, but Serena has been given a difficult draw and her form since returning to the tour has been mixed to say the least.
The draw does not look particularly kind for top seed Halep either, with Karolina Pliskova and former champion Svetlana Kuznetsova among the players in the same quarter.
Defending champion Sloane Stephens is among the favourites in the betting odds, while many are also tipping 2016 winner Angelique Kerber to go a long way at the tournament.
But where is the best value to be found in the betting for the US Open? Let’s take a look. As always, we’ll start with a look at the outright betting odds and then dig in below.
2018 US Open Women’s Odds
Serena’s Draw Makes Her Task Tough
Williams has performed strongly at the two major tournaments since she has played since becoming a mother and this bodes well for her chances of triumphing at the US Open.
She starts her campaign for a seventh US Open title against Magda Linette and could take on Venus in the third round, although the elder Williams sister will do well to beat Kuznetsova in one of the most enticing matches of the first couple of days of action.
Serena against Halep would be a blockbuster clash in the fourth round, but the Romanian has work to do to even reach that stage of the competition. The draw has set her up against Kaia Kanepi, who has reached the quarter-finals of the US Open twice, one of which was last year.
Kanepi will provide a stern test for Halep and it is not out of the question that the top seed could go out, which would open the draw even further for Serena.
The bookmakers cannot split the pair with both Halep and Serena offered at around the 6/1 mark. It is difficult to side against Serena in any tournament, so she seems to be the better option for those wanting to back one of the two favourites for the US Open title.
Wozniacki Can Fly Under the Radar
With so much talk about Williams and Halep, it is a surprise to see Caroline Wozniacki available to back at 33/1 with some bookmakers.
The second seed certainly has the talent to go a long way at the US Open, having reached the final of the tournament twice before, while she won this year’s Australian Open to prove her quality on the big stage.
Wozniacki is not in good form, however, while there are question marks over her fitness and these factors can help to explain why she is so low in the betting odds for the US Open.
The Dane is on track to meet Petra Kvitova in the quarter-finals but perhaps Cincinnati champion Kiki Bertens is a better option from this section of the draw. Kvitova has to beat former US Open semi-finalist Yanina Wickmayer in her first-round match, which is a difficult opener.
Naomi Osaka and Daria Kasatkina are also placed in the bottom quarter of the draw but neither have shown form of late to suggest they are going to be major threats.
At 25/1, Bertens is perhaps the best value in this quarter although the San Jose champion Mihaela Buzarnescu, who has an ankle injury, is a substantial obstacle in her path as well.
Hard Court Specialist Kerber Poised to Succeed
Kerber collected her first US Open crown in 2016 and the German looks to be in the perfect condition to make it two Flushing Meadows titles in the last three years.
Poor form since Wimbledon is a worry for Kerber’s fans and backers but a price of 7/1 reflects the fact the bookmakers believe she is the player to beat in the bottom half of the draw. Kerber is expected to face Margarita Gasparyan, Alize Cornet and then Dominika Cibulkova in her first three matches, none of which are likely to pose her too many problems in New York.
The winner of a possible all-American third-round clash between Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe would be a sterner test for Kerber but she has the pedigree to come through that.
It is sixth seed Caroline Garcia who is scheduled to meet Kerber in the quarter-finals of this section, but the French player has injury problems heading into the tournament.
Garcia is also drawn against Johanna Konta in the first round and although the Briton has been sliding down the world rankings she is a big talent who can pose a huge threat on her day.
Kerber really ought to reach at least the semi-finals given her draw and it would be a shock if she was not a presence for much of the second week.
Defending Champion Stephens Gets Good Draw
Serena is the only player to have defended the US Open title since Kim Clijsters but Stephens – offered at a top price of 9/1 – seems to have a decent chance of doing just that.
Evgeniya Rodina is the first-round opponent for Stephens, who is then expected to take on Victoria Azarenka in her third match. Twice a beaten finalist at the US Open, Azarenka is an excellent player but Stephens has dominated their head-to-head record in recent years.
Stephens is in the same section of the draw as Elise Mertens – who beat her at Cincinnati recently – but she should be able to make up for that defeat on her way to the quarters.
The other top seed in this quarter of the draw is Elina Svitolina, who may have to take on both Agnieszka Radwanska and Magdalena Rybarikova in her first three matches.
Stephens looks primed to emerge from this quarter – she has the weapons to beat Kerber too.
2018 US Open Women’s Best Bets
The fact four women have won the US Open in the last four years shows how tough it is to call this tournament but Serena is always going to be the player to beat, even if her draw is hard.
Halep’s chances are significantly dented by the top seed landing in the same section of the draw as Serena and it feels like the six-time US Open champion would have the better of that one.
Kerber is the big name in the bottom half but Bertens has a fine chance to reach at least the semi-finals and she has to be the value pick at a price of 25/1.
But 9/1 on Stephens and 6/1 for Serena look the best bets on offer for the 2018 US Open.