The 2020 US Open title on the ladies' side is up for grabs with six of the top-10 players in the world having opted out of traveling to Flushing Meadows due to COVID-19 concerns.
The top seed Karolina Pliskova only has one major final appearance to her name, which came in 2016 at the US Open. She would figure to benefit from the absence of some of her main rivals, but she lost in her opening round match last week at the Western & Southern Open, so her form is questionable at this point. Pliskova is 8-4 in 2020 and started off the season by winning the Brisbane title.
In the top half of the draw, the other main contender is 2018 US Open champion Naomi Osaka, who played excellent in the warmup event at the Western & Southern Open. The No. 4 seed reached the fourth round in Flushing Meadows in 2019. She's the favorite in the top half of the draw based on her recent success and Grand Slam resumé.
No. 6 seed Petra Kvitova has been strong in 2020 at 12-4, which includes a quarterfinal run at the Australian Open. The two-time major winner has never advanced past the quarters in New York, but with the lack of several of the top players in the women's game, this could be the year the 30-year-old Czech breaks through.
Another player to watch in the top half is No. 11 seed Elena Rybakina. The 21-year-old is a stellar 21-5 in 2020 with one title and three runner-up finishes. However, she doesn't have much experience on the major stage, with a first round exit last year at the US Open in her only previous appearance. Rybakina reached the third round of the Australian Open earlier this year, which was her best-ever major result.
It's difficult to say who's the favorite to come out of the bottom half of the women's field, but it's probably No. 3 seed Serena Williams. The 38-year-old American is 11-4 in 2020 and has finished runner-up at the US Open in each of the past two years. Williams hasn't looked great in the resumption of play this summer, but it would be quite unwise to count out the 23-time Grand Slam champion.
Other threats in the bottom half include the Australian Open champion and runner-up Sofia Kenin and Garbine Muguruza, respectively. Kenin, the No. 2 seed, has reached the third round of the US Open in each of her previous three appearances. She's 15-6 in 2020 with two titles to her name. She's the type of player that gets better as the tournament progresses, so if she avoids the upset bug early, she could be poised for another deep major run.
Muguruza, the No. 10 seed, has never advanced past the fourth round in Flushing Meadows, making it her worst major. However, the 26-year-old Spaniard is a two-time slam champion and has been consistent this season at 16-4. Other than Serena Williams, Muguruza is the most qualified player in the bottom half of the draw to make a run at the title.
Round 1 matches to watch
Sevastova has one semifinal and two quarterfinal appearances to her name at the US Open, but she is an awful 1-8 in 2020. Gauff reached the third round at Flushing Meadows in 2019 during her debut appearance and she's 7-4 so far this year. Gauff is probably the favorite in this match based on the form of these two players in 2020, but it's possible that Sevastova plays well in New York as it's been the site of her greatest successes.
Even at 40 years old, Williams is not to be taken lightly. She's just 1-5 on the season, but has taken the likes of Serena Williams and Dayana Yastremska to three sets in two of those losses. She's a two-time US Open champion, with her last crown coming way back in 2001. Muchova has reached the third round in New York in each of the past two seasons but is just 3-5 so far in 2020. Muchova is the favorite here but it wouldn't be surprising at all if Williams pulled off the upset.
Clijsters, a three-time US Open champion, last won this title in 2009. The 37-year-old's comeback to the tour hasn't seen much success, but she has also had the misfortune of tough draws in her two previous 2020 matches. That will continue here, as Alexandrova has a strong 13-6 record so far in 2020, but she's never advanced past the second round of the US Open. The 25-year-old Russian should win this encounter, but the Belgian veteran shouldn't be underestimated.
Quarterfinals: Pliskova d. Martic, Osaka d. Rybakina, Muguruza d. Williams, Konta d. Kenin
Semifinals: Pliskova d. Osaka, Muguruza d. Konta
Final: Pliskova d. Muguruza