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US Open - Tennis: Five to follow in the women's draw

The final Grand Slam of the 2022 season - the US Open - begins in New York on 29th August and, as ever, the women's draw looks to be a wide-open affair.

Serena Williams, expected to retire after the tournament, is 33/1 for victory but there are several more likely winners in front of the American legend in the betting market.

Here is a look at the players to follow in the women's US Open draw this year.

What:US Open
Where:

USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, Flushing Meadows, New York

When:

Monday 29th August-Sunday 11th September 2022

How to watch:

Amazon Prime and bet365's Sports Live Streaming

Odds:

Iga Swiatek 3/1, Simona Halep 7/1, Elena Rybakina 11/1, Naomi Osaka 12/1, Aryna Sabalenka 14/1

Swiatek looking short of her invincible best

World number one Iga Swiatek proved unbeatable in a four-month period between February and June, claiming the French Open as part of a 37-match winning run, but the Pole has come unstuck in recent tournaments.

A third-round Wimbledon loss against Alize Cornet was followed by a quarter-final defeat on clay in Poland, and Swiatek has since managed to win just one match in both Canada and Cincinnati.

She's still an obvious contender having won hard-court titles in both Indian Wells and Miami, but that air of invincibility has disappeared and opponents will now believe she's beatable.

The 21-year-old is yet to reach the quarter-finals in three previous attempts in New York, and given her recent struggles, odds of 3/1 might overestimate her chance of victory.

Halep back in form with help from new coach

While she has never won a hard-court Grand Slam, Simona Halep has proven top-level form having claimed both the French Open and Wimbledon women's titles, and the Romanian is in excellent nick for a crack at the Big Apple crown.

Halep has struggled for form and fitness in recent seasons and even considered retirement. However, her recent link-up with Williams' former coach Patrick Mouratoglou has helped her to rediscover the brilliance which made her a dual Slam champion.

The 30-year-old reached the semi-finals of Wimbledon and won the Canadian Open, before withdrawing in Cincinnati citing a thigh injury which is hopefully just precautionary.

A Flushing Meadows semi-finalist in 2015 and an Australian Open runner-up in 2018, Halep is 7/1 to complete the third leg of the career Slam, which looks a reasonable price despite obvious question marks over her fitness.

Related US Open Preview

US Open - Tennis: Raducanu finding form at the right time

US Open - Tennis: Five to follow in the men's draw

US Open - Tennis: All you need to know

Tennis: Three women to look for on hard courts

Wimbledon champion is hard to weigh up

Elena Rybakina's Wimbledon victory did not come completely out of the blue but the Kazakh had previously reached just one Grand Slam quarter-final before claiming glory on grass.

As a result of that SW19 triumph, the 23-year-old is an 11/1 shot to win back-to-back Grand Slam titles, but she was not on many radars before Wimbledon and few players have won consecutive Slams on the WTA Tour in recent years, with Naomi Osaka the only example since Williams in 2015.

Rybakina has also never gone beyond the third round in a hard-court Grand Slam and little of her post-Wimbledon form suggests she is ready to challenge in New York, although a run to the Cincinnati quarter-finals offered some encouragement to her ante-post backers.

However, the 23-year-old also showed precious little in the run-up to Wimbledon. She's hard to dismiss but others are preferred.

Hard to write-off two-time champion Osaka

Arguably the biggest enigma on the WTA Tour, nothing about Naomi Osaka's form suggests she is about to win a fifth Grand Slam title but it would not be a surprise if the Japanese steps it up back at one of her favourite hunting grounds.

Osaka, a self-confessed introvert who has taken time away from tennis for the sake of her mental health, was seldom seen after losing to Swiatek in the Miami final, exiting early in Madrid and at the French Open before skipping the grass season.

She has returned to action in North America, where she is based, but has claimed just one victory across tournaments in San Jose, Toronto and Cincinnati, which suggests she is not up to winning a third US Open.

A New York champion in 2019 and 2021, Osaka will not be seeded for the US Open which opens up the possibility for a potential first-round blockbuster. If the 12/1 shot gets on a roll, she could be hard to stop, but that remains a big if.

Mental fragility an issue for error-prone Sabalenka

Another great WTA enigma, Aryna Sabalenka has long looked a Grand Slam champion in waiting but the 24-year-old ten-time tour winner continues to fall short at the highest level.

A significant part of her Slam failings seems down to her mentality - she wants to win so much that errors start to seep into her power-packed game and can quickly derail her.

There are, however, signs that Sabalenka is beginning to figure it out and she reached the US Open semi-finals last season, losing out when a heavy favourite against Leylah Fernandez.

Still a permanent fixture in the world's top ten, she is a serious threat and her 14/1 odds may well contract further after another strong performance in Cincinnati.

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