- Of the six women still alive in the US Open, No. 4 seed Naomi Osaka remains the favorite to take the title
- Three of the four playing in Wednesday’s quarterfinals are back after maternity leave
- Read on to see who looks like the best bet to win the women’s singles title
Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams entered the US Open as the top two favorites to win it all.
Some 10 days later, they are still favored in the US Open odds.
The 22-year-old Japanese star remains the safest bet to win – especially as she has only gotten better with each round.
US Open Women’s Singles Winner Odds
|Player||Odds at DraftKings|
|Naomi Osaka (JPN)||+138|
|Serena Williams (USA)||+275|
|Jennifer Brady (USA)||+550|
|Victoria Azarenka (BLR)||+600|
|Elise Mertens (BEL)||+900|
|Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL)||+4000|
Odds from Sept. 9
Osaka in Formidable Form
Osaka is 2-for-2 in Grand Slam finals so far.
Then 20, she shocked Serena Williams in the 2018 final, under most dramatic circumstances. And she backed that up with a tight three-set victory over Petra Kvitova in the 2019 Australian Open final.
Osaka hasn’t reached a final since then – having changed coaches twice and struggled with the pressure that came with her instant fame.
But she has matured – as evidenced by her willingness to take on the cause of social injustice while trying to win a major. And the six-month shutdown allowed her to work on her game. She’s never been better, in every way.
Osaka’s semifinal opponent, Jennifer Brady, is on a major roll. But the back end of a Grand Slam is completely new territory for her.
Both are dealing with hamstring strains and are wearing heavy strapping.
In Brady’s case, in the biggest opportunity of her career, she will either thrive – or swoon. There won’t be much in-between.
Serena’s Slam Final Jinx
Williams, who will turn 39 in a few weeks, has been chasing that elusive 24th major title since she returned in March 2018, 14 months after she won the 2017 Australian Open while two months pregnant with daughter Olympia.
If she’s not what she was, she’s still the most formidable player in the game. But history is weighing heavily on her nerves.
Each time she has gone late into a Grand Slam in the last two years, she has mostly looked in very good form – as she does this year. Each time, she been the favorite to win the title and tie Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles.
But each time, something has gone horribly awry.
Serena Williams’s Last Four Grand Slam Finals
|2019 US Open||Bianca Andreescu||-275/+220||Loss|
|2019 Wimbledon||Simona Halep||-184/+156||Loss|
|2018 US Open||Naomi Osaka||-179/+159||Loss|
|2018 Wimbledon||Angelique Kerber||-275/+230||Loss|
It wasn’t a particular opponent – as you can see above, she lost against four different players. Her biggest opponent was herself.
Not only did she lose all four as a favorite, she didn’t even manage a single set.
Of all of them, the 2018 US Open final against Osaka was by far the most … eventful.
She’s not getting any younger. And the scar tissue of all those close calls has only increased. (And if she dares overlook Pironkova in the quarterfinals, she does so at her peril).
Azarenka the Second-Favorite Mom
When 31-year-old Azarenka made the second week in New York, it was the first time in five years she had gone that far.
She’s on a 10-match winning streak inside the US Open bubble, including a walkover over Osaka in the Western & Southern Open final.
Nine. In. A. Row.
Victoria Azarenka is through to the final 🎱. pic.twitter.com/kbxVnEeo5o
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 8, 2020
The Belarussian who now calls Boca Raton, Fla. home looks the freshest physically of the six remaining players, even if she also played doubles, and even though her wins at the Western & Southern Open were her first in nearly a year.
In her favor is the fact that not only is she riding a wave of confidence, she’s been there.
The two-time Australian Open champion and former No. 1 is the only player other than Osaka and Williams to have even reached a Grand Slam semifinal – never mind win it all.
Let's hear it for the moms 💪🙌
Victoria Azarenka, Tsvetana Pironkova, and Serena Williams are representing all the mothers out there in Week 2 of the singles draw.@vika7 | @serenawilliams | @TPironkova | #USOpen pic.twitter.com/aXYngORBpL
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 7, 2020
Williams has a favorable quarterfinal draw against the third mother still in contention, 32-year-old Tsvetana Pironkova.
The Bulgarian hadn’t played a match in … three years before she used a protected ranking to return at this US Open.
But after that, against Azarenka, she is up against it.
The head-to-head during their long rivalry is lopsided – Williams leads 18-4, including victories in the 2012 and 2013 US Open finals. But most of the matches have been highly competitive. And Williams was barely 30 then – the same age Azarenka is now.
If not Osaka, pick Azarenka.
Best bet: Osaka (+138)
Best longshot: Azarenka (+600)