The main draw has been released for the 2020 US Open, where opportunity awaits the field and history beckons for 23-time major champion Serena Williams.
Will New York crown a first-time major champion for a fourth straight year? Or will one of the ten major champions in the draw add to their tallies?
Main draw play begins on Monday. See the full draw here.
Top eight seeds: 1. Karolina Pliskova, 2. Sofia Kenin, 3. Serena Williams, 4. Naomi Osaka, 5. Aryna Sabalenka, 6. Petra Kvitova, 7. Madison Keys, 8. Petra Martic.
Top half: Pliskova, Osaka, Kvitova, Martic
Bottom half: Kenin, Serena, Sabalenka, Keys
Projected Round of 16: Pliskova-Riske, Martic-Vondrousova, Osaka-Kontaveit, Kvitova-Rybakina, Keys-Muguruza, Serena-Sakkari, Sabalenka-Konta, Kenin-Mertens.
Last year's final: Bianca Andreescu d. Serena Williams, 6-3, 7-5.
Top 32 Withdrawals: No.1 Ashleigh Barty, No.2 Simona Halep, No.6 Bianca Andreescu, No.7 Kiki Bertens, No.8 Belinda Bencic, No.30 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, No.31 Barbora Strycova, No.32 Svetlana Kuznetsova.
The Ones to Watch: The major champions and former World No.1s who know what it takes to go deep at the majors.
No.9 Serena Williams: Seeded No.3, Serena comes into the US Open off back-to-back weeks in Lexington and Cincinnati and the 28-year-old American is certainly not short of court time as she goes for her record-tying 24th major title.
She played five matches over the last two weeks, with all five going a full three sets. After playing her longest match in eight years in her opening round of the Western & Southern Open, a 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 win over Arantxa Rus, she failed to serve out a straight-set win over Maria Sakkari the following day and hit a physical wall en route to the loss.
While her losses to Sakkari and Shelby Rogers (Lexington) may be cause for concern ahead of the US Open, it is also worth noting her clutch play at both events as well. She has routinely found her best tennis when facing down breakpoints, she rallied from a break down in the third set to defeat Venus Williams in Lexington, and she was two points from the loss to Rus before battling back there.
Over the last two seasons, Serena has not always come into the Slams battle-tested. In fact, in many instances, she has come in full of confidence and easy wins, only to struggle at the first signs of resistance. It's hard not to shake the feeling that her pre-US Open insecurities might just be what get her over the line this time.
Serena opens the tournament against one of the Cinderella stories of the 2019 event, No.97 Kristie Ahn. Drawn into the third quarter of the draw, she could 2017 champion Sloane Stephens in the third round, with a potential rematch with Sakkari in the Round of 16.
No.10 Naomi Osaka: The 2018 champion has had an eventful run-up to the US Open. On the court she pulled off two strong comeback wins over Karolina Muchova in the second round of Cincinnati and a red-hot Anett Kontaveit in the quarterfinals. Off the court she joined in the athlete-led protests against racial injustice and police brutality, which led to a pause in play at the Western & Southern Open, where she is set to play a semifinal against Elise Mertens on Friday.
Osaka's tennis has looked sharp, she has been mentally dialed in, and there is still room for improvement. She has been drawn into the second quarter, anchored with No.6 seed Petra Kvitova. The two-time major champion is set to open her tournament against compatriot Misaki Doi and could face the always dangerous big-hitting Camila Giorgi in the second round. A possible third-round encounter against Coco Gauff is looming, though the young American has her own tricky draw to navigate to get there.
When Czech food arrives in the bubble, expect a happy Petra 🙏🇨🇿 pic.twitter.com/RIOlTOWWli— Petra Kvitova (@Petra_Kvitova) August 28, 2020
No.12 Petra Kvitova: Kvitova impressed in her lone match before the US Open, a 2-6, 7-5, 6-2 loss to Marie Bouzkova. For a set and a half, Kvitova looked lights out, clearly enjoying the quicker pace of the new Laykold courts. It is rare to hear Kvitova say she played well after a loss, but that's was precisely the Czech's impression. A few more days of acclimating to the courts and the heat and Kvitova could be a big title threat. Keep an eye on the daily forecast when Kvitova is scheduled to play.
Kvitova opens against Irina-Camelia Begu and could face a rematch against Marie Bouzkova in the third round, or surging American Jessica Pegula. Dayana Yastremska or Elena Rybakina could be waiting in the Round of 16, with Osaka her projected quarterfinal opponent.
No.3 Karolina Pliskova: Still chasing her first major title, the World No.3 is the top seed at the US Open for the second time in her career. After a six-month break that allowed the 28-year-old Czech to finally exhale after a non-stop four-year stretch, Pliskova says she's more mentally fresh than anything.
A bit question for the big-serving Pliskova is whether she can acclimate to the faster courts. While her power game seems perfectly suited to fast courts on paper, Pliskova may actually far more comfortable on medium-paced courts that give her time to set up on the baseline.
Pliskova will play her first match against Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina, with a potential second-round match against Caroline Garcia. Waiting in the third round could be one of the most dangerous lower seeds, American Jennifer Brady, and there's a possible rematch of the 2016 final against Angelique Kerber looming in the Round of 16.
No.16 Garbiñe Muguruza: The two-time major champion sent a clear message in January, coming tantalizingly close to a third major title at the Australian Open, losing narrowly to Sofia Kenin. Muguruza comes into the US Open a mystery. The 26-year-old comes in without any tournament play, having withdrawn from Cincinnati citing an ankle injury.
The US Open has been Muguruza's most difficult Slam to conquer - it is the only major at which she has not made the quarterfinals - but so much of that has been about the hectic energy of the event. Muguruza has never been shy about how much the Manhattan energy can drain her. Could results prove different now that we're playing in a bubble environment? If Muguruza is healthy, there's no reason to think she will not be a threat.
Seeded No.10, Muguruza was drawn into the third quarter and will open against Nao Hibino. The first seed she could face is Donna Vekic and the next seed would be either Madison Keys or Zhang Shuai in the Round of 16. A possible match-up with Serena in the quarterfinals would be a blockbuster.
Ready for Primetime Players: The seeded players looking to translate tour success to Slam success.
No.11 Aryna Sabalenka: Seeded No.5, the 22-year-old is the highest-ranked player who has yet to make the quarterfinals of a major. She faces a potentially tough road in New York, with a potential second-round encounter against a resurgent Victoria Azarenka, a third-round against No.29 seed Veronika Kudermetova, who defeated Pliskova in Cincinnati, with Cincinnati semifinalist Johanna Konta potentially waiting in the Round of 16
No.17 Elena Rybakina: The jury is still out as to whether the 21-year-old is ready to pick up where she left off before the shutdown, when she led the tour in match-wins, aces, and three-set wins. In her only match before the US Open, Rybakina lost a high-quality match against No.21 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova.
It's not an easy draw for Rybakina, who will be seeded for the first time in just her fourth main draw appearance at a Slam. She'll be looking for her first main draw win in New York against Katarina Zavatska, before a potential second-round encounter with Shelby Rogers. From there, Rybakina could face No.19 seed Dayana Yastremska, with No.6 seed Kvitova a potential Round of 16 opponent.
No.20 Anett Kontaveit: Only Mertens has won more matches during the tour's restart than the Estonian. En route to the Palermo final (l. Teichmann) and Cincinnati quarterfinals (l. Osaka), Kontaveit has looked incredibly dangerous, continuing the form that she displayed before the season shut down in March. The 24-year-old has made the quarterfinals or better at four of her last five events, including her 1st major quarterfinal at the Australian Open.
Kontaveit opens against Danielle Collins and the first seed she could face is Poland's Magda Linette in the third round. A potential rematch against Osaka, against whom she led by a set and a break in their Cincinnati quarterfinal, could be waiting in the Round of 16.
No.21 Maria Sakkari: The World No.21 has never made it past the second round at the US Open but she's coming off a confidence-boosting week in Cincinnati, which saw wins over Coco Gauff and Serena Williams,
No.22 Elise Mertens: The Belgian has been an absolute machine as the tour has come back, playing every week so far and showing a mental and physical freshness that has allowed the more defensive-minded player to be aggressive. A semifinalist in Cincinnati, Mertens has won 9 of her last 10 matches (Prague final, l. Halep) and she was the toughest test for Bianca Andreescue during the Canadian's title run last year.
No.39 Ons Jabeur: When the Tunisian takes the court, tennis connoisseurs tune in, sit back, and soak in the shot-making. Jabeur's transformation into a consistent threat at the tour's biggest events in 2020 has been one of the year's big stories. She is the only player to make the quarterfinals or better at the three biggest events of 2020: Australian Open (l. Kenin), Qatar Total Open (l. Kvitova), and Cincinnati (l. Azarenka).
Jabeur opens against Katrzyna Kawa of Poland and could face No.2 seed Sofia Kenin in the third round.
No.40 Jennifer Brady: The breakout player of the season behind Elena Rybakina, the American looks to strike big at her home Slam, where she made the Round of 16 in 2017. Brady's 2020 season has been outstanding, with her maiden title in Lexington and a semifinal run at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Perhaps even more impressive have been the wins she's picked up along the way, having defeated Ashleigh Barty, Garbiñe Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Marketa Vondrousova, and Coco Gauff. As we saw in Lexington, the 25-year-old has a big, heavy game that can take the racquet right out of her opponent's hands.
Seeded at a Slam for the first time at No.28, Brady could face top-seeded Pliskova in the third round, with Kerber or Vondrousova looming as her potential seeded opponents in the Round of 16.
More Seeds on Watch: 2016 Champions Angelique Kerber comes into New York without any pre-tournament play and reunited with coach Torben Beltz.... Australian Open champion Sofia Kenin hit 58 unforced errors in a straight-set loss to Alizé Cornet in a nervy performance in her only lead-up event in Cincinnati.... No.13 seed Alison Riske should love the quick, low-bouncing new courts.... No.7 seed Madison Keys struggled to find her range in an error-strewn loss to Ons Jabeur in her only pre-US Open match in Cincinnati.... A quarterfinalist last year, No.18 seed Donna Vekic is 1-2 on the restart after splitting with Beltz.... No.9 seed Johanna Konta is flourishing on the quick New York courts and has been drawn into the open fourth quarter.
Bracket Busters: The unseeded players who are ready to pull off "upsets" that aren't "upsets".
No.50 Coco Gauff: Eyes are always on the 16-year-old and her lead-up to the US Open has yielded mixed results. On one hand, her preternatural poise and resilience under pressure came through in Lexington, with two great three-set wins over Sabalenka and Jabeur. On the other hand, she has struggled with double-faults and has not been able to summon the tennis that propelled her to the Australian Open Round of 16 in January. It's nothing to be concerned about for Gauff - reminder: she's 16! - and she will always be a threat at any event she enters. Gauff has a tough draw in New York, opening against former semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova and facing either Daria Kasatkina or talented teen Marta Kostyuk in the second round. Osaka awaits in the third round for the third consecutive Slam.
No.84 Jessica Pegula: After starting her 2020 season with a run to the Auckland final, the American has looked dangerous on the restart. The 26-year-old Buffalo-native is punching well-above her ranking at No.83. She came through qualifying in Cincinnati to defeat Brady, Amanda Anisimova, and Sabalenka to advance to the quarterfinals (l. Mertens).
Pegula opens against another unseeded threat, Marie Bouzkova, and the winner could be a tough opponent for Kvitova in the third round.
No.95 Shelby Rogers: The Charleston-native is looking as fit as she's ever been and her hard work during the shutdown paid off immediately in Lexington, where she edged Serena Williams in a third-set tiebreak. Rogers looks primed to be a tough opponent for No.11 seed Rybakina in the second round.
No.54 Jil Teichmann: The Swiss looked unbeatable en route to the Lexington final and could be a tough test for No.7 seed Madison Keys in the second round, with No.25 seed Zhang Shuai and Muguruza as her potential seeded opponents before the quarterfinals.
No.59 Victoria Azarenka: You would be hard-pressed to find anyone in tennis who wasn't happy to see Azarenka's resurgent run to the semifinals in Cincinnati, where she tallied her first main draw win in a year and her first semifinal run to a Premier event since 2018 Miami. Azarenka will be a tough test for her 5th seeded compatriot Sabalenka in the second round and a win there would open up the very open fourth quarter of the draw.
No.111 Leylah Fernandez: Could another teenage Canadian make a big splash in New York? Opportunity awaits any of the 32 players drawn into the fourth quarter of the draw, which is anchored by No.2 seed Kenin, No.5 seed Sabalenka, No.9 seed Konta, and No.16 seed Elise Mertens. The 17-year-old has impressed so far on the restart, successfully qualifying in Lexington to defeat Sloane Stephens and bageling Ons Jabeur a week later before the Tunisian won in three sets. Fernandez could be Kenin's opponent in the second round.
Notable First Round Matches: Kerber vs. Tomljanovic, Kostyuk vs. Kasatkina, Gauff vs. Sevastova, Kontaveit vs. Collins, Bouzkova vs. Pegula, Vekic vs. Kr. Pliskova, S. Williams vs. Ahn, Kudermetovas vs. Swiatek, V. Williams vs. Muchova, Watson vs. Konta, Mertens vs. Siegemund, Clijsters vs. Alexandrova, Zvonareva vs. Fernandez.