Naomi Osaka, Ashleigh Barty, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep enter the year's final major as the top-4 seeds, and between the four of them, they've won the last four majors. So it wouldn't be unwise to count on one of those four going all the way yet again. With that in mind, let's take a look at each of the main contenders' potential routes to go deep at the 2019 US Open.
While the defending champion Osaka will be the favorite to advance out of her quarterfinal, she has some potentially tough opponents to overcome if she's going to make another deep run. The No. 1 seed could face the No. 13-seeded Belinda Bencic in Round 4, and she already lost to Bencic twice in 2019. In the quarters, a matchup with either No. 7 seed Kiki Bertens or No. 9 seed Aryna Sabalenka would be tricky. She is 1-1 in her career against Bertens, and defeated Sabalenka en route to her 2018 US Open title in three sets. Osaka hasn't been at her best lately, but she has won the last two majors held on hard courts, so she'll still be taking some confidence into New York.
Interesting Round 1 Matchups
It will be the first-ever meeting between these two hard-hitting compatriots in what looks to be one of the most intriguing matchups of the opening round. Sabalenka will be looking to shatter her career-best Round 3 effort at the US Open, while Azarenka will be looking to regain the magic that saw her reach two US Open finals (2012 and 2013). Neither player has been excellent this season. Sabalenka is 24-18 on the year while Azarenka sits at 21-16.
In what could be the first of many meetings to come, the two teens will square off for the right to potentially face No. 28 seed Carla Suarez Navarro (lower back) in Round 2. The 15-year-old Gauff, who will have the support of the home crowd, is playing in just the second major of her career after she made a historic run to the fourth round at Wimbledon. The 18-year-old Potapova has been to the second round of the three previous majors so far in 2019. She comes in as the much higher-ranked player at No. 76.
Wimbledon champion and No. 4 seed Simona Halep comes in as one of the main favorites in this section of the draw, along with No. 15 seed Bianca Andreescu. The 27-year-old Romanian was unable to advance out of the third round of either of her summer hard-court tournaments after the Wimbledon title run, while Andreescu made a perfect return from injury by claiming the Toronto title. A case could be made that the 19-year-old Canadian is the favorite in this section, considering that she's been nearly unbeatable this season on hard courts when healthy. Also looming in the draw is No. 6 seed and former quarterfinalist Petra Kvitova, along with 2017 champion and No. 11 seed Sloane Stephens, who has struggled in 2019.
Interesting Round 1 Matchup
The two-time major winner Muguruza has been pretty good when healthy this year, as she holds a 16-7 record on hard courts in 2019. In her only summer hard-court event, she lost a tight three-setter in Round 1 of Cincinnati to Madison Keys, who ended up going on to take the title. Riske just went 1-2 during the hard-court events leading up to the US Open, but she's coming off a quarterfinal result at Wimbledon in which she knocked out the No. 1 seed.
Dark Horse: Svetlana Kuznetsova
Kuznetsova, who won the US Open all the way back in 2004, hasn't been out of the third round in New York since 2011. But she just defeated four top 11 opponents in Cincinnati en route to a runner-up finish, and is a tough competitor still at 34 years old. She could face Stephens in Round 2, who she just crushed in Cincinnati, and holds a 4-1 head-to-head record against.
Pliskova, who has been one of the most consistent players on the tour this season, had her best-ever major result at the US Open in 2016 when she reached the final. The 27-year-old has been a sensational 24-6 on hard courts this season, so she's the most reliable bet to get through her section of the draw. Potential challengers include No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina (5-3 record against), No. 10 seed Madison Keys (has never played) and No. 20 seed Sofia Kenin (3-0 record against). Also lurking in this section of the draw is No. 17 seed and French Open finalist Marketa Vondrousova, who has barely played since her runner-up finish due to injury. She has been excellent this year when healthy with a record of 27-9, however.
Interesting Round 1 Matchup
The 25-year-old Zheng just picked up the first title of her career in San Jose with an impressive win over Aryna Sabalenka but she has an 0-1 record against Williams, with that lone match coming in 2015. Williams, the two-time US Open champion, has also been playing well of late. She reached the quarters of Cincinnati, beating the likes of Kiki Bertens and Donna Vekic. Williams holds a 14-7 record this year on hard courts. The winner will take on No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina. Williams holds a 1-2 record against Svitolina, while Zheng is 1-1.
Dark Horse: No. 32 Seed Dayana Yastremska
The 19-year-old Ukrainian posted her career-best major result at Wimbledon when she reached the fourth round. Yastremska has already made her mark at a young age, as she's won three titles, including two this season. The youngster could face No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the third round, and given her older compatriot's up and down 2019 season, an upset there is conceivable.
No. 2 seed Ashleigh Barty highlights this section of the draw, along with No. 8 seed and six-time champion Serena Williams and No. 14 seed and 2016 champion Angelique Kerber. Barty has never advanced past the fourth round of the US Open, and if she's going to do so this year, she could face a Round 4 matchup with Kerber, who she has a 2-2 record against in her career. Back spasms forced Williams to retire in the Toronto final, so it's a bit unwise to rely on her getting out of this section of the draw given her injury concerns. If she's healthy, however, she's been playing her best tennis of 2019 of late, so she'd be one of the main threats to advance out of this quarter.
Interesting Round 1 Matchups
Williams has owned this matchup throughout her career with a record of 19-2 against Sharapova. The 37-year-old American hasn't lost to the 32-year-old Russian since 2004, but she is dealing with some injury concerns, which could potentially hamper her in this Round 1 affair. The last three meetings between these two have all come at majors, with Williams winning each match in straight sets.
Kerber has not been good lately, with a record of just 1-4 across her last five matches. The former US Open champion has also not been at her best this year at majors, as she hasn't been out of the fourth round in any of the previous three. Mladenovic, who's been average in 2019, has advanced as far as the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows, which came in 2015. Kerber leads their head-to-head 4-1, but these two have split their previous two meetings.