Maria Sharapova Petra Kvitova
The US Open, the last bastion of hope for many. A lost echo in the reverberating crowds for others. It can be a place of redemption or a final resting place.
As the last Grand Slam of the year falls upon us, we honor those who hope to achieve the unimaginable feat of winning a crown here. Those who dare defy the odds of beating the Williams sisters for their place in the record books.
There is no better place for these five players to define their character in this place we call the US Open.
Li is certainly a contender at the Open. She hits the ball hard and she hits it big. She is strong and has years of experience behind her.
Li doesn't let her nerves take over. She has played at all stages of a Grand Slam. Li can go the distance in a two week match up.
Her confidence is where she is lacking. If she intends to beat the Williams sisters, she will have to believe she can win and put her whole game together in every match.
Petra's power game is well suited to the Williams sisters. She's equally powerful in defense and offense as well as with her fore and back hand. Petra's power stays strong throughout the match, making it tough to break her. She will need this against Venus and Serena.
Now, does Petra loosen up and know that the pressure is off because she's already won a major; or does she tighten up and increase her expectations and see it as a burden?
Petra has all the weapons and has an effortless left-handed game. There is no reason she can't win against the Williams sister.
Maria Sharapova has the heart of a champion. She is one of the best competitors in the sports world, not just tennis.
Maria has improved her game with every match she's played this year. She dictates on her ground strokes. Her serve has been faulty as of late and has cost her matches. If Maria wants to makes the finals, her service game must be fixed.
Maria is a tough competitor against Serena and Venus. She is mentally prepared to play them. Maria is healthy which gives her a competitive edge.
Maria is fearless and experienced in Grand Slam tournaments and she's hungry for the title. Nobody loves playing for a New York crowd more than Maria.
Caroline Wozniacki has been the world No. 1 for almost a year. She has the title longer than anyone this year and still not won a Grand Slam.
Thought of by many as the rising star of tennis, she has failed to deliver when it mattered.
She does not have a winning record against Venus and Serena. When she steps on the court against either one of them, she appears timid. Caroline will have to shake this if she is to beat them.
She has a great serve, a quick game and a great slice. If she is going to win here in New York, she is going to have to go out and take this US Open title and not expect her opponent to give it to her.
Vera Zvonereva made it to the US Open finals last year and lost to Kim Clijsters in straight sets 6-2, 6-1. This final was so anti-climatic that it barely deserved watching.
Vera has everything a player needs or could want in order to win a Grand Slam. Her problem is her head is nowhere on the court.
Personal issues have plagued Vera and cost her crucial points and ultimately titles. This is where the Williams sisters will have an edge over her. Venus and Serena are only there to win, nothing else matters.
If Vera plans on making it past the first couple of rounds, she needs to get it together mentally and put it with her game.
Her only competition last year was Clijsters. That will not be the case this year. She will have to want to win, then go out and prove it.
Victoria Azarenka has big time talent and there is no reason why she shouldn't be a Grand Slam champion.
She is very aggressive and she makes you hit a lot of balls. Her ground strokes are powerful and her net game is improving.
She is quick and does not hesitate to hit that last ball to make you earn the point. She will not give you the match. If you beat Victoria, you have earned it. Now she needs to go and earn it for herself.
Sometimes it feels like Victoria is waiting for that perfect moment to succeed. Venus and Serena will not give her that opportunity. She needs to believe she is a contender.
She has spunk and charisma and loves to entertain the crowd. Victoria will need more than that to beat the Williams sisters. She will also have to bring her game.