Who can stop Serena Williams?
World No. 1 playing best tennis heading into the season's final Grand Slam
It's been a wide-open season in women's tennis, with three different winners in the majors -- none of them named Serena.
But neither Li Na, Maria Sharapova nor Petra Kvitova will be favored at next week's US Open. That role will go to Serena Williams, who seems to have worked out the kinks in her game after winning the title Sunday in Cincinnati.
"Everything's kind of turned around," she said after throttling Ana Ivanovic in the 62-minute final. "I feel good."
Translation: Serena is the one to beat in New York.
Here is our last up-or-down accounting of the trending WTA players before the first ball goes up on Monday:
No. 1 Serena Williams: She lost to older sister Venus in Montreal but rallied to beat Ivanovic for her second title in three tries since her infamous Wimbledon doubles meltdown. "I'm so excited going into the Open," she said. Ladies, consider that a warning.
No. 4 Petra Kvitova: The hangover continues for the Wimbledon champion, as she failed to win a match in Cincinnati, losing to Ukraine's Elina Svitolina. This, after splitting two matches in Montreal, leaving in the third round at the hands of Ekatrina Makarova. It's not looking good for Kvitova, whose best US Open efforts were fourth-round appearances in 2009 and 2012.
No. 6 Maria Sharapova: After a nice win over No. 2 seed Simona Halep in her second Cincinnati match, Sharapova fell into a 6-3, 4-0 hole against Ana Ivanovic. She nearly climbed out, but fell in a taut three-setter in the semifinals. It was better than her efforts in Montreal, but still not good enough to take the title in New York.
No. 8 Eugenie Bouchard: The summer isn't going well for the 20-year-old Canadian from the royals-obsessed family who became the darling the Wimbledon crowds. After reaching her first major final at the All England Club, she lost her first matches in Montreal (to American qualifier Shelby Rogers) and in Cincinnati (to wily two-time Grand Slam singles champion Svetlana Kuznetsova). That does not send her into New York in the best frame of mind.
No. 9 Ana Ivanovic: After going out in the second round at Montreal (to Coco Vandeweghe), the resurgent Serb went deep in Cincinnati. Ivanovic knocked off Svetlana Kuznetsova after she dispatched Bouchard and, most impressively, Maria Sharapova in the semifinals in three long sets before falling to Serena in the final.
No. 11 Caroline Wozniacki: It was a good week in Cincinnati for the former world No. 1. Wozniacki took it to Germany's Angelique Kerber in the third round, then No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals, in straight sets. Wozniacki took the first set against Serena in the semifinals, but fell in three.
No. 17 Victoria Azarenka: The two-time Grand Slam champion limps into the US Open after withdrawing from her first-round match in Cincinnati. She tweaked her right knee, an injury that goes back to the first round at Wimbledon. Azarenka has played eight matches since injuring her foot at the Australian Open -- and lost five of them.
No. 20 Venus Williams: After a dashing run into the final at Montreal, you knew it would be a tough turnaround for the elder Williams (34) in Cincinnati. Sure enough, she dropped her first match to No. 16 seed Lucie Safarova in three sets. This could be a blessing, since it gives her two weeks to recuperate before playing in New York.
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