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Who are your favorites to win the U.S. Open and why?
By Kate Fagan
I'd split my money between Serena Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska. I think Radwanska is ready for prime time -- she showed that at Wimbledon, where she lost in the final to Williams. You could clearly see how Radwanska thought that would be her moment and how disappointed she was when Williams grabbed it from her.
It won't be much longer before the Polish wonder breaks through and starts winning titles rather than just climbing the rankings. My money is on her at Flushing Meadows. I think she's ready, even with the back injury she suffered at the New Haven Open.
Of course, there's always Serena, whom one should never bet against. She has a certain mojo flowing right now, and what better stage than New York City?
Serena and Radwanska are on a crash course to face each other in the semifinals. The winner of that match will win it all.
By Jane McManus
Last year American women like Christina McHale and Irina Falconi -- New York-area women, to boot -- surprised and impressed at the U.S. Open. This year there won't be a repeat. The two are in the same eighth of the draw as countrywomen Venus Williams and Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
Serena Williams, of course, is playing so well she could swat away all four like pesky mosquitoes, but in a way, I'm sorry those four women won't be able to stick around a little longer. On the bright side, perhaps they can provide some early drama.
By Graham Hays
I'll go out on a limb and tab Serena Williams as the women's favorite. I'll also take a flier on east as the favorite in the sun-rising sweepstakes. It was just one of too many sensational performances to count in the Olympics, but what Williams did in dismantling the field en route to gold surely ranks among the most impressive performances of her career. After going essentially two calendar years without a Slam, adding another U.S. Open title to the Wimbledon title and gold medal already earned in the past two months sounds like ample motivation. She'll do the work and let us argue about whether anyone ever had a better summer.
Among the challengers, however distant, Maria Sharapova stands out. Granted, Sabine Lisicki isn't Williams, but Sharapova rallying from a set down in the Olympics to beat Lisicki, who had ousted her at Wimbledon, is one more example of the Russian's competitive pride. It might not help her on the court against Williams, but at least her Olympic mauling is as likely to motivate her as demoralize her should she meet the favorite again.
On the men's side, it would be fun to think Andy Murray will use Olympic gold as a springboard to join the top three, minus Rafa for the time being, but it's a reach to call him the favorite. Roger Federer has shown he's still capable of greatness, but will the toll of a season, made longer by the Olympics, slow him in New York? If only by process of elimination, Novak Djokovic seems like the safest bet.
By Michelle Smith
The summer of Serena will continue in New York.
Serena Williams will win her fourth U.S. Open title -- and 15th Grand Slam title -- because she is healthy and playing at a higher level than any other player in the world over the past three months. She won Wimbledon and the Olympic tournament to firmly cement herself as the front-runner at Flushing Meadows despite a No. 4 seed that seems just a little funny.
Williams' loss to German Angelique Kerber in Cincinnati, a defeat that ended a 19-match win streak, may serve as a motivation heading into the final Grand Slam of the year. But Williams may have trouble locating the chip on her shoulder that she sometimes seems to need because of her recent run of dominant tennis on the big stage. Still, threats are out there like defending champion Samantha Stosur and world No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.
The past seven Grand Slam titles have gone to seven different players, but Serena is playing well and looks poised to go back-to-back here.
By Mechelle Voepel
Ah, yes! Two of the most fun weeks in sports held in one of the most fascinating cities in the world. Welcome back, U.S. Open!
Who will win? I'm sure not going out on a limb. On the women's side, Serena Williams seems in steamroller mode, and the draw appears favorable to her. Not that she needs it.
As for the men, I'll also go with the player who might have gotten a break in the draw: Novak Djokovic.
He started the 2012 Grand Slam slate with a marathon victory in the final over Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open in January. Now Djokovic can close it in the Big Apple with his second consecutive U.S. Open title.
By Amanda Rykoff
In this same space less than two months ago, I said Serena Williams would win the U.S. Open women's singles title. I won't back away from that prediction now. Serena is healthy, playing great and coming off a spectacular performance at the Olympics, where she cruised to a gold medal in impressive form. I see no reason Serena won't win her second straight Grand Slam championship. When Serena is at the top of her game, she is the best there is. I don't care that she's seeded only fourth; Serena's back and better than ever. She'll win her fourth U.S. Open title.
On the men's side of the draw, without Rafa in the mix, it's between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer. Although defending champion Djokovic has won the past three hard-court Grand Slams, I'm picking top seed and world No. 1 Federer to win at Flushing Meadows. It's hard to pick against Djokovic, but Federer is back in vintage greatest-of-all-time form and steamrolled Djokovic in Cincinnati last week. Time will catch up to Federer, but that time has not yet arrived. Look for Federer to win his 18th Grand Slam title.
By Adena Andrews
If this were March Madness I'd be guilty of going chalk on my picks with Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic as my favorites to win the U.S. Open. After a win at Wimbledon and the Olympics, Williams is playing the best tennis of her life. When she's at her best, she is nearly unstoppable. Everyone else is just playing for second place.
I like Djokovic to repeat as U.S. Open winner because the bitter taste of defeat from last year may still be in Roger Federer's mouth. Either way, the two men are sure to put on a great show.