The 2011 US Open starts on August 29th and the women's final for the event is scheduled for Saturday, September 10th.
Chances are that the eventual champion for the event will be one of the following players as the five players listed below are the favorites to win the US Open title outright (according to bet365's odds):
1. Serena Williams (13/8)
2. Petra Kvitova (5/1)
3. Maria Sharapova (8/1)
4. Caroline Wozniacki (10/1)
5. Victoria Azarenka (11/1)
Kim Clijsters, who is actually the seventh favorite and not on the above list, is the two-time defending champion at the tournament and she was held in high regard to win the event not too long ago.
However the recent abdominal injury that she sustained in Toronto has hurt the former number one's chances of doing well in Flushing Meadows and her status and playing level are currently unclear.
Serena Williams did not play in the 2010 US Open due her foot injury. However she has won the Grand Slam three times before, most recently in 2008.
The question mark with Williams not long ago was how well she was going to be playing following her lengthy absence from the game. She has answered those questions recently. Williams picked up a title in August at WTA Stanford and the former world number one looks like she could win the Premier Mandatory event in Toronto as she is in the quarters with a favorable draw.
Should she win in Canada her status as favorite to win the US Open would be substantiated. Although even if she suffers an upset in Toronto, many will probably stick with her to win in New York and she is my pick to win the event.
Petra Kvitova, the champion from Wimbledon, is the second favorite for the US Open although you do have to wonder if the Czech player has what it takes to win back-to-back Slams. She's out of the Premier Mandatory event in Toronto with a whimper as she fell 6-1, 6-2 to Andrea Petkovic in the third round and sometimes players, after experiencing success, relax a little bit.
Kvitova's ambition might be satisfied for the time being after proving so much with the Wimbledon title and if her drive is not at 100%, there is no way she can win in Flushing Meadows.
But besides that factor, Kvitova has not really done much in hard court Slams as of yet as her quarterfinal appearance at the 2011 Australian Open is her best performance in a hard court major. I wouldn't be expecting much from the Wimbledon champ at Flushing Meadows and I think she's over-rated as the second favorite although a quarterfinal run seems perfectly plausible.
Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are two players who are not over-rated as third and fourth favorites. They can both be expected to do a lot of damage in the US Open tournament.
However neither player is really one that you can have tons of confidence in at this point in their careers.
Sharapova and her service game always make her upset prone and since coming back from her shoulder injury she has not made it passed the fourth round of any hard court Slam. Her results from the French Open and Wimbledon this year imply that she is ready to do some damage in Flushing Meadows once again but if the double faults start coming in, any top 30 player has a chance to cause an upset.
Azarenka is a player who would silence a lot of critics just by making the final at the US Open. After a disappointing 2010 she is having a resurgent year but the 22 year old has failed to bust through in New York as of yet. Her 2007 fourth round appearance is the best she has done.
She's playing better in 2011 than she has ever in her career however and it's just a matter of time before Azarenka makes a Grand Slam final. Whether she'll make it in 2011 or whether she needs to go through more growing pains remains to be seen but it's hard to have full confidence in her as she is still just 1-4 in Grand Slam quarterfinal matches and 0-1 in semifinals.
Caroline Wozniacki, the Slam-less world number one, has to be one of the more motivated players entering the US Open.
She is 11-2 in the singles draw from Flushing Meadows in the last two seasons and despite her tag as a Slam underachiever she seems probable to make the semifinals. I don't think she'll win the event but she does have a recent history of deep runs in the hard court Slams, including a semifinal appearance in Melbourne earlier this season where she missed match point against Na Li for a spot in the final.
If Wozniacki is to win the title in Flushing Meadows it would likely be due to Serena Williams suffering a shock upset to another player as I don't think the Dane can do her own dirty work when it comes to taking the American out.
The list of favorites above were according to betting odds but my true favorites are as follows:
1. Serena Williams
2. Victoria Azarenka
3. Caroline Wozniacki
4. Maria Sharapova
5. Petra Kvitova
Clijsters is the player most likely to win the US Open outside of these players but her claiming a fourth overall title in New York with require a positive appraisal of her playing status following her recent injury.