US Open Women’s round one: Champ Serena out to make history
There are not many records Serena Williams hasn’t broken, but one in particular has somehow eluded her throughout her glittering career.
The American 21-time major title winner now has the chance to complete the Grand Slam, which is winning the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open in the same calendar year.
Having already lifted the first three trophies in 2015, she is the heavy favourite with Coral, odds-on at 5/6, to defend her Flushing Meadows crown and be the third woman in history, and first since Steffi Graf in 1988, to achieve that feat.
World number one Williams faces a relatively straightforward first round clash in the singles draw against Russian Vitalia Diatchenko, and is highly fancied to beat her at 1/100.
The 33-year-old’s route to her fifth successive final has been made all the more easy after her bitter rival maria Sharapova withdrew from the tournament due to injury.
That certainly also opens up the top half of draw too, with the likes of Ana Ivanovic (4/11 for victory), Eugenie Bouchard (5/6) and teen Swiss sensation Belinda Bencic (1/14) all hoping to go far. They face tough respective first round opponents Dominika Cibulkova (2/1), Alison Riske (5/6) and Sesil Karatantcheva (13/2), though.
American home hopes Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Venus Williams, meanwhile, are all in the same quarter as Serena, which they will not enjoy.
British number one Heather Watson will luckily avoid the defending champion until the quarters this time, if they both get that far, after eventually losing to her in an epic at Wimbledon this year. Guernsey-born Watson (4/7) opens her tournament against Lauren Davis.
In the bottom half of the draw, another star Brit Laura Robson (11/8) will be attempting to rise back up the rankings, after a long spell on the sidelines, and faces defending US Open Women’s doubles champion Elena Vesnina (8/15) up first.
Robson could possibly meet compatriot Johanna Konta (2/9), who duels with wildcard Louisa Chirico (3/1), in the third round.
The main attraction of the second half of the draw, though, will be second seed Simona Halep, who is still seeking her first Grand Slam and is 9/1 to go all the way. The Romanian (1/16) is up against New Zealander Erakovic (7/1) first.
Halep has a tricky half too, as she may have to see off the likes of Petra Kvitova, Caroline Wozniacki and Victoria Azarenka to get to the final.
It will certainly be an intriguing 2015 edition of the US Open in the Women’s singles, but it would be difficult to see past tennis great Serena to make history once more.
Coral’s betting tip: British hope Robson is keen to get herself back amongst the elite and is a terrific 11/8 shout to beat Vesnina in the opening round.