The final Grand Slam of 2022, the US Open begins on Monday. Every player in the draw will want to have a good run (and possibly win the entire tournament) at this year’s tournament, but there are some players who need it in order to maintain their ranking or credibility. Here are five players who could really do with a good run at the US Open…
Five players who Need a Good 2022 US Open
Anett Kontaveit (EST)
The Estonian is ranked No.2 in the world, but her Grand Slam results are nothing of the sort for someone holding that ranking. Kontaveit only has one Grand Slam quarterfinal to her name (2020 Australian Open) and her recent Grand Slams performances are unfortunately a further indictment on what many already feel to believe is the weakest era in the history of the WTA. In addition, Kontaveit was the runner-up at the season-ending WTA Finals last year but with her current trajectory is not on course to even qualify for the tournament. Therefore, the Estonian could really do with a decent run to the US Open semifinals to make fans have some trust in the ranking system again and aid her WTA Finals qualification hopes.
Whilst Medvedev has already won a Grand Slam and is a consistent performer at the biggest events, there are still doubts about his ability whilst holding the No.1 ranking or being defending champion (similar how Naomi Osaka was in the WTA, although not nearly as disappointing). Whilst having the pressure of being the No.1 player on tour, he seems a shadow of himself, losing matches he was winning when he didn’t hold the top spot. Despite having 14 tour titles to his name, he has never successfully defended a title. This year’s US Open would be a great time to change that as it is the first time he is entering a Grand Slam as defending champion (and No.1). A successful title defense will silence all doubters about his ability to perform under pressure.
Leylah Fernandez (CAN)
Many fans were mesmerized by Fernandez’s run to the US Open final last year. However, I was a lot more cautious with my praise. Whilst her run twelve months ago appeared great on paper in terms of the names she beat, contextually they were all rather winnable matches. Nevertheless, she still would have been a much more fitting champion than the player who beat her in the final.
After Fernandez’s run to the final last year, I didn’t really believe she would ever be a threat to win a Grand Slam title again, but instead just make multiple quarter and semifinals (similar to the career of Madison Keys). So far, my belief is appearing true with a French Open quarterfinal Fernandez’s best Grand Slam result. However, this is Fernandez’s chance to prove her doubters wrong. Another run to the final would show doubters that she does have what it takes to win a Grand Slam and should be in the discussion of future champions in the upcoming years.
Garbine Muguruza (ESP)
The Spaniard has had a truly horrific year and nobody really understands why. Her match record for the year is 9-14, with her only winning consecutive matches this year on one occasion. People have started to notice that outside of Muguruza’s career highlights, many of her other results are mediocre at best.
This has lead fans to discuss whether the Spaniard is the weakest multiple Grand Slam champion in the history of the sport, as her titles came against each of the Williams sisters past their prime/in favorable conditions. This argument seems further plausible as she has yet to reach the quarterfinals at the US Open in her career. Achieving that or better this year could be the reset that Muguruza needs and will provide her some momentum to get more good results to scrape qualification into the WTA Finals, a tournament she won last year!
Emma Raducanu (GBR)
A clear indicator that the WTA was in disarray was seen last year when a teenager came through qualifying to win the tournament without dropping a set, and yet almost everyone besides the British media thought she would never win another Grand Slam, because of many unheralded players winning big titles and then not being able to deliver under pressure afterwards. The general consensus has been proven right so far as Emma Raducanu’s record in 2022 so far is 13-15, with her yet to win three matches in a row since her US Open triumph.
The sad reality is that many players in the field could have won last year’s US Open with the draw Raducanu had, so it is frustrating that it was a British player who was in the right place at the right time, as the British media now hype her as if she is a future GOAT when many unheralded women have been winning Grand Slams in recent years. Raducanu did not have to play a Top 10 player en route to the title and the players she faced had all come off a big upset win in the previous round, so could not mentally re-energise to face an unheralded player.
However, this US Open is a great chance for Raducanu to make those who think her real level is getting exposed eat their words. If she can make the second week again or beat a Top 10 player (which she has never done in her career), the Brit can demonstrate that her disappointing 2022 to date has just been a transition period and she could be a future multiple Grand Slam champion.
Main Photo from Getty.