US Open 2021 Draws: Ash Barty tops US Open women’s singles draw; Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka, Coco Gauff in bottom half

US Open 2021 Draws: Ash Barty tops US Open women's singles draw; Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka, Coco Gauff in bottom half
US Open 2021 Draws: Ash Barty tops US Open women's singles draw; Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka, Coco Gauff in bottom half

US Open 2021 Draws: Ash Barty tops US Open women’s singles draw; Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka, Coco Gauff in bottom half

The 2021 US Open women’s draw was revealed in full on Thursday, headlined by world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, and a host of major-tournament champions, rising stars and in-form players, ready to start their quest for a Grand Slam title.

Read on for USOpen.org’s top-five takes from the women’s draw, and click here to view the draw in full.

US Open 2021 Draws: Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev lead US Open men’s singles draw

US Open 2021 Draws: Ash Barty tops US Open women’s singles draw; Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka, Coco Gauff in bottom half

World No. 1 Barty tops draw, faces former finalist Zvonareva in Round 1

When Vera Zvonareva reached the US Open final in 2010, Ashleigh Barty was just 14 years old. More than a decade later, they’ll play in the first round in New York, with the Aussie now the consensus world No. 1 and a two-time Grand Slam champion — including earlier this year at Wimbledon.

Zvonareva, now 36, returned to tennis four years ago after giving birth to a daughter in 2016. Her current ranking of world No. 101 is far off her career-high of No. 2, reached 11 years ago, but she’s shown this year that she still has what it takes to beat the world’s best players. In May, she beat Petra Kvitova on clay in Rome, just her second win over a player ranked in the Top 10 in the last decade.

In the top half, Barty’s path to the quarterfinals could include No. 29 seed Veronika Kudermetova, No. 22 seed and two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karolina Muchova and 2020 US Open semifinalist and 2021 Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady.

No. 7 seed and 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek is Barty’s projected opponent in the last eight, in a loaded sliver of the draw that also features Tokyo gold medalist and No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic, surging No. 23 seed Jessica Pegula and unseeded Swiss Jil Teichmann, who reached the final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati by beating Osaka, Bencic and Pliskova before losing to Barty.

2020 final rematch possible in semifinals, but with plenty of stars in between

US Open 2021 Draws: Last summer, Naomi Osaka came from a set down to defeat Victoria Azarenka to win the women’s title. This year, that’s a projected semifinal — but there are plenty of other players who could end up there, too. The No. 3 and No. 18 seeds, respecitvely, this year, Osaka and Azarenka both fell into the bottom half of the draw with No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina and No. 8 seed Barbora Krejcikova.

To kick off her title defense, Osaka faces former US Open junior champion Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, whom she also beat in the first round of the 2020 Australian Open.

Sabalenka comes to New York on the heels of rising to world No. 2, a career-high ranking. The 23-year-old, nearly a decade younger than her compatriot Azarenka, broke new ground at Wimbledon by reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal. She also reached the fourth round of the Open in her main-draw debut in 2018. That year, she was the only player to win a set against eventual champion Osaka. This year, she opens against Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic, and could face the in-form Danielle Collins, seeded No. 26, in the third round.

Collins surged through the summer with a 12-match winning streak that saw her take titles in Palermo and San Jose, and opens against a sentimental favorite: Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. Suarez Navarro, a two-time US Open quarterfinalist, beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier this year and intends to retire from tennis at the end of the season.

A bronze medalist for her country in Tokyo, Svitolina reached the semifinals in New York back in 2019, while Krejcikova, the French Open singles and doubles champion and a doubles gold medalist in Tokyo, has been one of the stories of the season: now ranked world No. 9, she has never before played a US Open main draw. The Czech fell in qualifying five times (2014-15, 2017-19).

Blockbuster opener between Keys and Stephens, winner could face Gauff

Four years ago, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens played for the US Open title. This year, they face off in Round 1.

US Open 2021 Draws: The former Top 10 players, now ranked No. 41 (Keys) and No. 64 (Stephens), will play each other for a seventh time overall, and third time in 2021. Stephens leads the overall head-to-head, 4-2, including an emphatic 6-3, 6-0 decision in that 2017 final. They haven’t played on hard courts since then: their last four meetings have come on clay, and they split two meetings in Charleston and Rome this year.

The winner will face either No. 21 seed Coco Gauff or Poland’s Magda Linette. The 17-year-old Gauff is playing her third US Open, having reached the third round in 2019, while world No. 51 Linette matched that result last year. Gauff and former champion Angelique Kerber, seeded No. 16 and in the midst of a career resurgence, could face in the third round as a projected Round 4 opponent for Osaka.

Gauff, Keys and Stephens are three of 22 Americans in the women’s draw in total.

Muguruza and Halep on upset alert?

US Open 2021 Draws: No. 9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza and No. 12 seed Simona Halep have combined to win four titles at the French Open and Wimbledon. At the Open, though, they’ve been susceptible to early exits. Muguruza has only reached the fourth round once, in 2017, and Halep has been beaten in the first or second round in six of her 10 trips to the Big Apple.

Both players have also had injury concerns this year. Muguruza had a surging start to 2021 and held match points against eventual champion Osaka in the fourth round of the Australian Open in February. She reached three finals in the year’s first three months, which included her first title in four years in Dubai in March. Since retiring from a match at the Volvo Car Open in April with a left leg injury, however, Muguruza has only reached the quarterfinals once in six tournaments.

After tearing her calf in a match against Kerber in Rome in May, Halep missed the French Open and Wimbledon, and played just two matches in the summer hardcourt swing. She lost her first match in five months to Collins in Canada, and suffered a small tear in her right adductor that prompted a withdrawal from the Western & Southern Open.

The 2021 US Open women’s draw was revealed in full on Thursday, headlined by world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty and world No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka, and a host of major-tournament champions, rising stars and in-form players, ready to start their quest for a Grand Slam title.

Read on for USOpen.org’s top-five takes from the women’s draw, and click here to view the draw in full.

World No. 1 Barty tops draw, faces former finalist Zvonareva in Round 1

US Open 2021 Draws: When Vera Zvonareva reached the US Open final in 2010, Ashleigh Barty was just 14 years old. More than a decade later, they’ll play in the first round in New York, with the Aussie now the consensus world No. 1 and a two-time Grand Slam champion — including earlier this year at Wimbledon.

Zvonareva, now 36, returned to tennis four years ago after giving birth to a daughter in 2016. Her current ranking of world No. 101 is far off her career-high of No. 2, reached 11 years ago, but she’s shown this year that she still has what it takes to beat the world’s best players. In May, she beat Petra Kvitova on clay in Rome, just her second win over a player ranked in the Top 10 in the last decade.

In the top half, Barty’s path to the quarterfinals could include No. 29 seed Veronika Kudermetova, No. 22 seed and two-time Wimbledon quarterfinalist Karolina Muchova and 2020 US Open semifinalist and 2021 Australian Open finalist Jennifer Brady.

No. 7 seed and 2020 French Open winner Iga Swiatek is Barty’s projected opponent in the last eight, in a loaded sliver of the draw that also features Tokyo gold medalist and No. 11 seed Belinda Bencic, surging No. 23 seed Jessica Pegula and unseeded Swiss Jil Teichmann, who reached the final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati by beating Osaka, Bencic and Pliskova before losing to Barty.

2020 final rematch possible in semifinals, but with plenty of stars in between

Last summer, Naomi Osaka came from a set down to defeat Victoria Azarenka to win the women’s title. This year, that’s a projected semifinal — but there are plenty of other players who could end up there, too. The No. 3 and No. 18 seeds, respecitvely, this year, Osaka and Azarenka both fell into the bottom half of the draw with No. 2 seed Aryna Sabalenka, No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina and No. 8 seed Barbora Krejcikova.

To kick off her title defense, Osaka faces former US Open junior champion Marie Bouzkova of the Czech Republic, whom she also beat in the first round of the 2020 Australian Open.

Sabalenka comes to New York on the heels of rising to world No. 2, a career-high ranking. The 23-year-old, nearly a decade younger than her compatriot Azarenka, broke new ground at Wimbledon by reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal. She also reached the fourth round of the Open in her main-draw debut in 2018. That year, she was the only player to win a set against eventual champion Osaka. This year, she opens against Serbia’s Nina Stojanovic, and could face the in-form Danielle Collins, seeded No. 26, in the third round.

Ons Jabeur mimicks Aryna Sabalenka’s tattoo at the 2021 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y.
Photo by Mike Lawrence/USTA
Collins surged through the summer with a 12-match winning streak that saw her take titles in Palermo and San Jose, and opens against a sentimental favorite: Spain’s Carla Suarez Navarro. Suarez Navarro, a two-time US Open quarterfinalist, beat Hodgkin’s lymphoma earlier this year and intends to retire from tennis at the end of the season.

A bronze medalist for her country in Tokyo, Svitolina reached the semifinals in New York back in 2019, while Krejcikova, the French Open singles and doubles champion and a doubles gold medalist in Tokyo, has been one of the stories of the season: now ranked world No. 9, she has never before played a US Open main draw. The Czech fell in qualifying five times (2014-15, 2017-19).

Blockbuster opener between Keys and Stephens, winner could face Gauff

Four years ago, Madison Keys and Sloane Stephens played for the US Open title. This year, they face off in Round 1.

The former Top 10 players, now ranked No. 41 (Keys) and No. 64 (Stephens), will play each other for a seventh time overall, and third time in 2021. Stephens leads the overall head-to-head, 4-2, including an emphatic 6-3, 6-0 decision in that 2017 final. They haven’t played on hard courts since then: their last four meetings have come on clay, and they split two meetings in Charleston and Rome this year.

The winner will face either No. 21 seed Coco Gauff or Poland’s Magda Linette. The 17-year-old Gauff is playing her third US Open, having reached the third round in 2019, while world No. 51 Linette matched that result last year. Gauff and former champion Angelique Kerber, seeded No. 16 and in the midst of a career resurgence, could face in the third round as a projected Round 4 opponent for Osaka.

Gauff, Keys and Stephens are three of 22 Americans in the women’s draw in total.

Coco Gauff in action during practice at the 2021 US Open, Thursday, Aug. 26, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Pete Staples/USTA)
Photo by Pete Staples/USTA
Muguruza and Halep on upset alert?

No. 9 seed Garbiñe Muguruza and No. 12 seed Simona Halep have combined to win four titles at the French Open and Wimbledon. At the Open, though, they’ve been susceptible to early exits. Muguruza has only reached the fourth round once, in 2017, and Halep has been beaten in the first or second round in six of her 10 trips to the Big Apple.

Both players have also had injury concerns this year. Muguruza had a surging start to 2021 and held match points against eventual champion Osaka in the fourth round of the Australian Open in February. She reached three finals in the year’s first three months, which included her first title in four years in Dubai in March. Since retiring from a match at the Volvo Car Open in April with a left leg injury, however, Muguruza has only reached the quarterfinals once in six tournaments.

After tearing her calf in a match against Kerber in Rome in May, Halep missed the French Open and Wimbledon, and played just two matches in the summer hardcourt swing. She lost her first match in five months to Collins in Canada, and suffered a small tear in her right adductor that prompted a withdrawal from the Western & Southern Open.

Simona Halep returns a shot during practice at the 2021 US Open, Tuesday, Aug. 24, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Peter Staples/USTA)
Photo by Peter Staples/USTA

US Open 2021 Draws:This year, the duo were handed a pair of dangerous, big-hitters in their openers: Muguruza will face Donna Vekic, a former world No. 19 who missed much of the spring after knee surgery, while Halep faces Italian Camila Giorgi, who recently surged to the biggest title of her career at the WTA 1000 event in Montreal, part of the US Open Series. Giorgi reached the fourth round here in 2013, and just missed out on a seeded position at world No. 36.

Muguruza and Azarenka are projected third-round opponents, while Halep is Svitolina’s potential fourth-round foe.

Andreescu returns, handed intriguing path

When Bianca Andreescu last left the US Open, she was on top of the world. Unable to defend her 2019 win last year, the Canadian returns to New York in 2021 as the No. 6 seed, but in a very different place. Sidelined with injury for the entirety of 2020, the highlight of Andreescu’s season so far was a run to the final of the Miami Open in March-but otherwise, she’s just 8-8 on the season.

If she is to find her form in Flushing, she’ll have to do it the hard way: Andreescu opens against Switzerland’s Viktorija Golubic, ranked No. 45, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and has cut nearly 100 spots from her ranking this year. It doesn’t get any easier from there for Andreescu: former French Open winner and No. 27 seed Jelena Ostapenko is her projected third-round opponent, while No. 10 seed Kvitova could loom in the round of 16.

US Open 2021 Draws: No. 4 seed Karolina Pliskova is the other top seed in this quarter, closing out the top half as Barty’s projected semifinal opponent. The 2016 finalist opens against wild card Caty McNally, and might have to navigate through two of the most in-form players of 2021: No. 14 seed and French Open finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova or No. 24 seed Paula Badosa. Those two could play in the third round.

US Open 2021 Draws: Ash Barty tops US Open women’s singles draw; Naomi Osaka, Victoria Azarenka, Coco Gauff in bottom half