WTA Insider Courtney Nguyen | A tricky top half and a bottom half full of opportunity - these are the storylines to keep an eye on this US Open.
WTA Staff

NEW YORK, NY, USA -- The 2015 US Open draw is out. Here are the highlights:
Serena Williams' half of the draw is a tricky one
Serena is a good bet to win her fifth consecutive major if she can play near her best for seven matches. The danger for her lies in players who have the tools to take advantage of her game on an off day. Her half of the draw is loaded with players who can push her hard on their best days.

Serena will open against Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. If she wins she would play either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or a qualifier. But things get tricky early, starting in the third round. The first seeded player she could face is Sloane Stephens, who is playing some of her best tennis at the moment and has done well to push Serena in the past. Win that and she could face either Agnieszka Radwanska or Madison Keys.

The quarterfinals could see a rematch with World No.12 Belinda Bencic, who handed Serena her only hardcourt loss this year in Toronto. Also looming in the quarterfinals are No.8 seed Karolina Pliskova and Venus Williams. Her toughest potential semifinal opponents could be No.7 seed Ana Ivanovic, who led 2-0 in the final set in their recent match in Cincinnati and beat her at the Australian Open last year or No.3 seed Maria Sharapova. But given their career head-to-head and Sharapova's injury concerns, that's a match-up that may not materialize.

Maria Sharapova will need to play herself into form
The Russian has not played a hardcourt match since losing to Daria Gavrilova in her opening round at the Miami Open. So guess who she faces first? That's right, Gavrilova. The spunky Russian has scored three Top 10 wins this season, including a win over Lucie Safarova in Toronto. If Sharapova can get through that match, her draw to the semifinals is a good one. The first seed she could face is Svetlana Kuznetsova, who is coming off a lower leg injury that forced her out of Washington DC.

Also struggling with injury is last year's semifinalist, Ekaterina Makarova, who would be the next-highest seed Sharapova could face in the fourth round. The player to watch in Sharapova's section is Elina Svitolina. The Ukrainian is seeded No.17 and she made two semifinals during the hardcourt summer, including last week in Cincinnati. If Sharapova falters, she could be the one into the quarterfinals.

Sharapova's projected quarterfinal opponent is No.7 seed Ana Ivanovic. Like Sharapova, Ivanovic has a tough opening round against Dominika Cibulkova. If she makes it through that match her draw is very makable to the quarterfinals, with the other three seeds in her section being a struggling Carla Suárez Navarro, Jelena Jankovic, and Eugenie Bouchard.

The bottom half of the draw is full of opportunity

With the top half of the draw coming out heavy, Simona Halep's bottom half is full of players who can take advantage. Halep, the No.2 seed, anchors her quarter along with Safarova. But the spoiler out of this section could be Victoria Azarenka. The two-time US Open finalist, who pulled out of Cincinnati with a leg injury, is seeded No.20. She could face Angelique Kerber in the third round, Safarova in the fourth round, and Halep in the quarterfinals.

The other quarter is anchored by last year's finalist Caroline Wozniacki and Petra Kvitova. Also lurking in this section are Garbiñe Muguruza and Andrea Petkovic. Questions surround all four of those players. Wozniacki's summer season was derailed by a leg injury, Kvitova is still dealing with the effects of her mono diagnosis, Petkovic appeared to pick up a leg injury in Cincinnati, and Muguruza has not won a set since making the Wimbledon final.

The toughest first round matches

Maria Sharapova vs. Daria Gavrilova, Ana Ivanovic vs. Dominika Cibulkova, Sloane Stephens vs. CoCo Vandeweghe, Andrea Petkovic vs. Carolina Garcia, Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Kristina Mladenovic, Eugenie Bouchard vs. Alison Riske, Lucie Safarova vs. Lesia Tsurenko, Anna Karolina Schmiedlova vs. Julia Goerges, Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Carina Witthoeft, Sam Stosur vs. Timea Babos.