Women's Draw at 2015 US Open Is Wide Open Behind Serena Williams

Merlisa Lawrence Corbett@@merlisaFeatured ColumnistSeptember 4, 2015

Johanna Konta shakes hands with Garbine Muguruza after upsetting the No. 9 seed at the 2015 U.S. Open.
Johanna Konta shakes hands with Garbine Muguruza after upsetting the No. 9 seed at the 2015 U.S. Open.Jerry Lai-USA TODAY Sports

Serena Williams remains the clear favorite to win the 2015 U.S. Open. However, a slew of early upsets presents some unexpected openings for the rest of the field.

Seven of the top 10 seeds are gone after just two rounds.

Maria Sharapova, seeded No. 3, withdrew before the tournament started. Lucie Safarova (No. 6), Ana Ivanovic (No. 7), Karolina Pliskova (No. 8) and Carla Suarez Navarro (No. 10) all lost in the first round.

Garbine Muguruza (No. 9) fell to Johanna Konta in the longest women's match in U.S. Open history. Petra Cetkovska upset Caroline Wozniacki (No. 4) in a three-set thriller that lasted past midnight.   

This leaves Williams, Petra Kvitova and Simona Halep as the only top-10 seeds to advance to the third round. 

It's difficult to gauge whether this dismal showing by the WTA Tour's top players represents parity or an anomaly. Regardless, some new faces are getting career-altering opportunities. 

American Shelby Rogers, 22, is into the third round of a Grand Slam for the first time in her career. Although she knows Halep, her next opponent, will be difficult, Rogers is excited to get a shot at the No. 2 player. In a post-match press conference Rogers spoke about a lifetime of hard work leading up to this moment:

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That's why we play the sport. That's why we try to win each match, is to get to the further rounds and play the bigger players. I'm really excited. I just hope to bring my A-game. I'm going to fight like crap to win every point. Just enjoy the experience, you know. It's been an incredible couple weeks for me already, so... Yeah, just enjoying every moment out there.

Nineteen-year-old Anett Kontaveit (No. 152) is such a fresh face on the WTA Tour that she doesn't even have a picture in her bio. Yet she has a chance to make it through to the fourth round. Coming into this tournament, Kontaveit had two appearances in Grand Slams, both first-round losses at Wimbledon, this year and last year.

Shelby Rogers hits a forehand during her second-round match at the U.S. Open.
Shelby Rogers hits a forehand during her second-round match at the U.S. Open.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

She will play Madison Brengle (No. 47), who had her best showing at a Slam earlier this year at the Australian Open. She reached the fourth round. 

Daria Kasatkina, an 18-year-old Russian who got the lucky loser slot after Sharapova withdrew, could also move into the fourth round in her first Grand Slam appearance. Kasatkina (No. 133) has earned more prize money in two rounds at the U.S. Open than she has in her entire career. 

Kasatkina told the WTA's staff she couldn't believe her luck. "When my coach told me, 'Sharapova withdrew, you're in the main draw,' I was like...Oh my god! Thanks God! ... Really, I was so happy because it's unbelievable luck to get the lucky loser at a Grand Slam. So I realized I was so, so lucky."

There are plenty of big names left. Belinda Bencic (No. 12), one of only two women to defeat Williams this year, takes on Venus Williams in the third round. Samantha Stosur, winner of the 2011 U.S. Open, remains in the draw. So does 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska, who takes on rising star Madison Keys.

Eugenie Bouchard, who's working hard to get back on track, next faces 2014 Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Ivanovic in the first round. Cibulkova is trying to advance beyond the third round at the U.S. Open for the first time since 2010. 

However, it's the no-names that are disrupting the draw at Flushing Meadows.  

Konta, appearing in her eighth Slam, reached the third round for the first time in dramatic fashion. She took out Wimbledon semifinalist, Muguruza in a match that lasted three hours and 23 minutes.

Despite surviving qualifiers and upsetting a top-10 player, Konta told the New York Times that her luck will run out soon enough.  

“You know, I am going to lose sooner or later. I’m not invincible. I’m no Serena Williams."