In tennis, the dominant player on tour never seems to hold his or her place for a sustained period.
For women especially, the rankings this year have changed almost daily.
While women players may seesaw up and down in the rankings, the winners of the grand slams have been relatively constant.
Since 2008, Kim Clijsters has won the U.S. Open twice, and Serena has claimed the title once.
Things are going to shake up this year because Serena is out of shape, Sharapova needs to vastly improve her serve, Clijsters is not even playing in the U.S. Open and new talent is emerging.
Here are the Top 10 women’s sleepers at this year’s U.S. Open.
Honorable Mention: Vania King
For once, an American has some talent. Besides Serena Williams, there is no female American tennis player in the Top 30.
McHale could change that.
She is only 19 years old and has already had some quality wins this year against Svetlana Kuznetsova, Daniela Hantuchova and Roberta Vinci.
It is surprising Petrova's best grand slam result has been a semifinal.
She has fluttered around the Top 10 for a lot of years.
She is a solid veteran and fell off the radar the last two years. But recently, she has shown some promise.
Petrova is known for being a head case, constantly talking to herself and throwing her racket.
She has textbook forehand and backhand strokes.
If she can notch some quality wins in the first couple of rounds—which she will have to do because of her high ranking—she could be dangerous.
Petrova is a streaky player. When she’s on a roll, no one wants to get in her way.
Kanepi’s most telling weakness is her fitness.
She has above-average ground strokes, and her serve isn’t bad.
Kanepi is not afraid to go for the big shots, which both helps and hurts her.
This year, Kanepi has beat Dominika Cibulkova, Andrea Petkovic and Gisela Dulko.
Look for Kanepi to make a run.
Many would not consider Zvonareva a sleeper because of her No. 2 ranking and her success in grand slams.
Zvonareva has made it to the finals at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, but she always flies under the radar.
If Zvonareva wants to make a bigger name for herself and win the U.S. Open, she needs to have a backup plan for getting out of a jam.
Her lack of defense tactics puts her at a huge disadvantage against the better players. I have never seen Zvonareva use a backhand slice, which is an essential tool for any player hoping to undercut the strength of an opponent.
Zvonareva has a good serve, is one of the fastest players on tour and has a good forehand, but her backhand needs a lot of work.
Considering that she has been able to get this far without a slice, just imagine how much better she could be by simply adding one more shot to her repertoire.
Wickmayer has kind of remained backstage this year, but she is a very good hard-court player.
She hits the ball crisply.
However, she can be inconsistent.
Also, her form is not something players should shadow.
Sometimes she leans in too much on her forehand shots. This, in turn, leads to bad footwork.
Wickmayer needs to improve her form in order to win.
Stosur can compete with the best at grand slams, and that is important.
In beating top players, Stosur has shown that she has self-confidence and that she can step up her game at critical moments.
Stosur has one of the best serves on tour and a massive forehand, but her backhand is something no one desires to possess.
Her backhand flails all over the place, especially if it isn’t on.
She resorts to a backhand slice in desperate situations, which isn’t a bad thing because it is a good defensive shot, but she uses it too much.
If Stosur wants to win the U.S. Open, she must have a consistent backhand.
Wait, what? Ivanovic.
This list was not made three years ago. No.
Ivanovic has shown huge signs that she is returning to the form she was in a couple of years ago, and she is still very young.
At 24 years old, Ivanovic has improved her game, possibly because of her new coach.
Ivanovic is currently ranked 17.
We know she has the talent. It remains to be seen whether she has the mental stamina to win.
At only 22 and playing since 2005, Radwanska has the experience and the youth to win the U.S. Open this year.
Like Zvonareva, Radwanska is one of the quickest players on tour, but that leads to problems.
Radwanska relies on her court speed too much, thinking she can get away with just getting shots back and not going for winners.
That strategy does not work against heavy-hitters like Maria Sharapova or Victoria Azarenka.
If Radwanska wants to win the U.S. Open, she needs to be more aggressive and improve her serve.
Talent doesn’t always translate to wins, and that is the case with Radwanska.
She should be in the semifinals or quarterfinals of every grand slam she plays in, but her mental weakness has hampered her thus far.
Petkovic really broke onto the scene last year.
All of her best grand slam results have been either this year or last.
Petkovic is a very good player, and some of her quality wins this year have been against Petra Kvitova, Marion Bartoli, Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic.
Having no major weakness, Petkovic should be one of the favored to win the U.S. Open.
At times, she can push the ball, not going for winners. But she has improved that, going for more winners of late.
Azarenka is one of—if not the most—gifted players on the women’s tour.
Her only weaknesses are her conditioning and her obvious mental brain freezes/collapses.
She moves terrifically well, hits the ball hard on both the forehand and backhand side and her serve is above average.
Every tournament, the same question is posed: “Will this be the one for Azarenka to win?”
Azarenka doesn’t lose to opponents, she loses to herself.
Her game collapses a lot under pressure.
If Azarenka can improve her mental game, she will win the U.S. Open not just once, but multiple times.