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By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Tuesday August 23, 2022

The first week could create some blockbuster matchups at this year’s US Open, thanks to the plethora of high profile unseeded players in this year’s draw.

The draw comes out on Thursday, but before we see it we’re anxious to speculate on how these five players might introduce their own special brand of chaos to week one in New York.

Tennis Express

1. Bianca Andreescu

It has felt like 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu has been on the cusp of a breakthrough for some time. But the wins haven’t exactly flowed for the 22-year-old talent.

Andreescu lost in the round of 16 at Toronto, dropping her 2022 record to 14-9, and skipped Cincinnati.

Behind Andreescu’s lack of breakout success in 2022 lies her capacity for exactly that. The talent is there. The hard court prowess (53-18 lifetime) is there. All that needs to happen is for her to catch fire and stay healthy while doing so.

2. Zheng Qinwen

China’s Qinwen Zheng is still under the radar as the 2022 US Open approaches, but a lot less than she was at the beginning of the season. That’s because the teenager reached the round of 16 at Roland-Garros, and was the only player to take Iga Swiatek to three sets while there.

Most agree that the rising Chinese has unlimited potential, but it’s not yet clear what her best surface will be. Zheng told reporters in Paris that she prefers hard, but she seems extremely well-suited for clay.

No matter the surface, she’s a threat to beat anybody on tour at the moment; Zheng’s is a booming physical presence, an excellent server, mover and – most important - first-strike tactician. She could be a nightmare first-round matchup for a top seed.

3. Naomi Osaka

Two-time champion Naomi Osaka unseeded at the US Open? Believe it – it’s true. Though Osaka hasn’t displayed the sparkling, authoritative form that she is known for in 2022, she’s been on court, and battling at tournaments in search of her best form.

Osaka enters the Open on a three-match losing streak, with losses to Coco Gauff in San Jose, Kaia Kanepi in Toronto, and Zhang Shuai in Cincinnati. She’s lost her last six sets as well. Maybe the frustration that comes with those tough losses on her best surface will set her free in New York. We know the dominant Osaka is in there, just dying to come out, what we don’t know is when – or if – it will.

4. Serena Williams

Great news for Serena Williams as her final US Open approaches. Williams has hired Rennae Stubbs to join Eric Hechtman on her coaching team. Whether you love Stubbs or not, the decision means that Williams is looking for another voice to help her see the light. It shows how committed she is to not just playing out the string, but figuring out what has been going wrong for her since she returned to the singles court at Wimbledon this summer.

Williams has shown promise in her three events since returning, going 1-3 overall but hitting a clean ball and moving well. It’s just a matter of ticking up another level and strutting that legendary confidence and self-belief at the moment.

Here’s hoping she can prolong her stay in New York well beyond the first round…

5. Marie Bouzkova

If you count qualies, Marie Bouzkova’s 2022 record stands at an astounding 36-11. Not only has the Czech been winning, she’s also been beating big names. Bouzkova is 4-3 against the Top-20 in 2022 – she was 7-15 vs. the Top-20 prior to 2022.

She’s also proven that she can win at the majors. Bouzkova reached her first Slam quarterfinal at Wimbledon last month – she had never been past the second round at a major prior to this summer.

Burgeoning confidence and a blossoming game, Bouzkova could be a rough ride for any top seed in the first week of the Open.


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