With the start of the 2018 US Open here, it’s time to take an expert look at the favorites, top contenders – and straight-up pretenders – in both, the men’s and women’s draw of the fourth and final major of the year.

Can reign champ Sloane Stephens repeat or will favorite like Serena Williams or Simona Halep add to their grand slam hauls? Could there be another WTA Tour participant that rises up to stun everyone en route to becoming a first-time slam winner?

If you’ve got questions, then I’ve got answers.

U.S. Open Tennis Odds
Women’s singles

Serena Williams: 9/2
Simona Halep: 11/2
Angelique Kerber: 15/2
Sloane Stephens: 10/1
Petra Kvitova: 14/1
Garbine Muguruza: 16/1
Elina Svitolina: 18/1
Madison Keys: 20/1
Karolina Pliskova: 22/1
Caroline Wozniacki: 25/1
Kiki Bertens: 25/1
Daria Kasatkina: 28/1
Maria Sharapova: 28/1
Aryna Sabalenka: 33/1
Jelena Ostapenko: 33/1
Victoria Azarenka: 33/1
Caroline Garcia: 40/1
Johanna Konta: 40/1
Naomi Osaka: 40/1
Ashleigh Barty: 50/1
Venus Williams: 50/1

 

The Favorites

Serena Williams

Yes, Williams has struggled a bit on the US Summer Series by suffering head-scratching losses to Johanna Konta and Petra Kvitova in San Jose and Cincinnati, but Williams also reached the finals at Wimbledon before losing to Angelique Kerber in just her fourth tournament back after having a baby.

Sure, Williams turns 37 in September and her movement is slowing down a bit, but when it comes to desire, intimidation and flat-out willpower, there’s no player on the planet that can match Serena Williams.

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Simona Halep

The World No. 1 and reigning French Open champion has an all-court game that is conducive to winning on any surface. She’s got fire and desire and reached the semis here in 2015. She’ll challenge simply because she never bows out of any tournament without putting up a legitimate fight.

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Angelique Kerber

The reigning Wimbledon champion and 2016 U.S. Open winner is playing fantastic tennis right now, plus she’s quite confident after getting her third career slam win just about six weeks ago. Besides, Kerber is one of the few players on the face of the planet that can say she beat Serena Williams in a grand slam final.

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Sloane Stephens

The 25-year-old World No. 3 is 27-13 on the year with one title, but she’s got the game to beat anyone on a hard court surface, including Serena Williams. For Stephens, it’s all about confidence and right now,, she should be super confident heading into the 2018 U.S. Open.

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The Contenders

Kiki Bertens

The World No. 13 is on fire right now people. The 26-year-old Bertens is a robust 33-16 on the year with two titles, including the one she just won by claiming her first master’s 1000 title in Cincinnati. Sure, she hasn’t been past the Round of 64 in her last five U.S. Open appearances, but I like her to make a big run. Besides, I’m hoping she’ll bust out a ‘Kiki Challenge during one of her matches.

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Elina Svitolina

The World No. 7 is a blistering 34-11 on the year with three titles and although she’s never made it past the Round of 16 in New York, Svitolina really has the kind of all-court game that can be successful anywhere. I’m long her underdog value as an 18/1 pick that has six other players with better odds.

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Karolina Pliskova

The World No. 8 is a fantastic 33-16 on the year with one title, but she’s yet to make the grand slam breakthrough that I was expecting by now. Sweet-swinging Czech reached the finals here in 2016 and the quarters last year. The 26-year-old has the game to beat anyone and even though it’s yet to happen for her, I believe it will. Pliskova is one of the few players in the planet that can match pace with Serena Williams in the serves department.

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The Pretenders

Garbine Muguruza

The World No. 12 is just 24-13 on the year with one title. While she won the 2017 Wimbledon title, she’s also only made it out of the Round of 64 once in her last three grand slam appearances.  I’m counting her out and you should too.

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Madison Keys

The World No. 14 has power, speed, and a monstrous serve. What she doesn’t have is any heart or much brainpower.

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Maria Sharapova

Unlike Madison Keys, World No. 22 Maria Sharapova has got as much desire as any player on the planet. The former world No. 1 is also a smart player that generally wears her opponents down with a bunch of shrieking and intimidation. Unfortunately, all of that intimidation is gone by the wayside with today’s younger players.

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Victoria Azarenka

The World No. 12 is a modest 13-10 this year and clearly needs more time to get back to being the elite players on the face of the planet.

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