US Open draw: Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff on last eight collision course

Iga Swiatek Coco Gauff
Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff shake hands at the net.

The second week of the 2023 US Open may include Iga Swiatek and Coco Gauff facing off in the Grand Slam’s quarter-finals.

When the women’s singles draw was announced on Thursday, No 1 seed Swiatek and No 6 seed Gauff were placed in the same quarter, with a ninth career encounter between the two rising WTA stars serving as a possible highlight for the year’s fourth and final Grand Slam tournament.

Despite Swiatek having a 7-1 advantage in their previous meetings, Gauff last week defeated Swiatek in a nail-biting three-set match on her route to winning the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati to snap a seven match losing sequence against the four-time Major champion.

Fourth seed Elena Rybakina joins Swiatek and Gauff in the top half, while second seed Aryna Sabalenka and third seed Jessica Pegula are in the bottom half. This week, Sabalenka, the current Australian Open winner, might finally manage to pass Swiatek to become the number one player in the world if certain things go her way that is.

Gauff and Swiatek will first have to make their way through four rounds before facing off in a contest in the last eight. The world’s top-ranked woman Swiatek will begin the opening round of her title defence against Rebecca Peterson of Sweden, while Gauff will take on a qualifier.

A battle against Mirra Andreeva, another tennis prodigy, may be in store for Gauff in the second round. The 16-year-old has been one of the season’s big stories after making it to Wimbledon and Roland Garros’ fourth rounds, respectively. She will play a qualifier on her US Open debut, much like Gauff. In her career, Gauff has a perfect 4-0 record against opponents who are younger than her, with one of those victories coming in Paris against Andreeva.

Two seeded past major champions, No 11 seed Petra Kvitova and No 17 seed Jelena Ostapenko, as well as former world No 1 Caroline Wozniacki and two former Australian Open finalists, Jennifer Brady and Danielle Collins, are all scheduled to compete in this quarter. After a three-year hiatus, the 33-year-old Dane is making her Grand Slam comeback and will begin against a qualifier. She may compete against Kvitova in the Round of 64 in the most recent iteration of a rivalry that stretches back to 2009.

The two highest-ranked seeds in the bottom quarter of the top half are Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon winner, and Maria Sakkari, the No 8 seed and semifinalist at the 2021 US Open. However, Rybakina has been given a difficult opening round in the shape of Ukrainian Marta Kostyuk, who defeated Sakkari in the first round of the most recent Major, Wimbledon, last month.

Karolina Muchova, the No 10 seed and runner-up to Gauff in Cincinnati and this spring’s Roland Garros final, No 15 seed Belinda Bencic, the 2021 Tokyo Olympic gold medalist who advanced to the US Open semifinals in 2019, and No 18 seed Victoria Azarenka, the three-time US Open finalist, are all included in the second quarter.

The No 19 seed from Brazil, Beatriz Haddad Maia, will face 2017 US Open winner Sloane Stephens in what is perhaps the finest first-round match of the bunch. Haddad Maia made it all the way to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros earlier this year before becoming the first Brazilian to ever crack the Top 10 in the history of the WTA rankings in June.

The third quarter, is arguably the most loaded of the four, is led by two of the most notable players from the 2022 US Open. The top seeds in this portion of the draw are No 3 seed Pegula, who fell to Swiatek in the quarterfinals last year, and No 7 seed Caroline Garcia, who lost to Ons Jabeur in the semi-finals.

While Garcia lost her opening match in tune-up events in Washington, D.C., Montreal, and Cincinnati, Pegula was victorious at the WTA 1000 event in Montreal earlier this summer and enters her home Major hoping to advance to her first-ever Grand Slam semifinal.

The Frenchwoman, who is the top seed in Cleveland and has advanced to the quarterfinals, has picked up her game this week and looks an outside shot.

In her first-round encounter, Pegula will take on the always dangerous Camila Giorgi, but the American has always had the Italian’s number: Over the years, they have faced off 10 times, and Pegula has won eight of those.

Other players to keep an eye on include No 9 seed Marketa Vondrousova, the defending Wimbledon champion; No 14 seed Liudmila Samsonova, who advanced to the final in Montreal by defeating three players ranked in the top 10; No 17 seed Madison Keys, who finished runner-up at the 2017 US Open; and No 26 seed Elina Svitolina, the former No. 3 player in the world who is back in top form after maternity leave.

The well-known names aren’t limited to the seeds, though. Leylah Fernandez, a finalist at the 2021 US Open, is also in this third quarter. She begins against No 22 seed Ekaterina Alexandrova. The winner of that match will play either 2018 Queens quarterfinalist Lesia Tsurenko from Ukraine or 2019 US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

The WTA world No 1 position, which Swiatek now holds, is coveted by Sabalenka as the Australian Open champion prepares to chase the US Open title. Depending on how far each player advances over the following two weeks, the top spot may or may not change hands by the end of the Open. Sabalenka could face a rematch of her thrilling Wimbledon semi-final loss against Ons Jabeur in the last eight in New York.

They’ll have to get through a section that also includes the No 12 seed Barbora Krejcikova—the 2021 Roland Garros champion who’s trying to get back into shape after an ankle injury ended her Wimbledon run—and the No. 13 seed Daria Kasatkina, who has been drawn against the hard-hitting American Alycia Parks.

The bottom quarter also includes former Australian Open winner Sofia Kenin, who hasn’t competed since Wimbledon, and two-time US Open singles champion Venus Williams, who, at the age of 43, will compete in her 24th main draw in Queens. In the first round, Williams will take on former No 2 Paula Badosa in a contest that promises to be interesting since both players have had injury problems in 2023.

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