U.S. Open: Coco Gauff popular pick to thwart Iga Swiatek's defense

League: Tennis

Posted on: 28 Aug, 2023 at 06:00 PM

Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

Iga Swiatek counts the 2022 U.S. Open among her four career Grand Slam titles, and the 22-year-old Polish star is favored to claim No. 5 in Flushing Meadows, N.Y.

Swiatek, who opened her title defense with an easy 6-0, 6-1 victory over unseeded Rebecca Peterson on Monday, began the tournament as the +223 favorite by BetMGM to win the women's title. She has been backed by the most total bets (28.9 percent) and money (45.7 percent) in the draw.

However, Swiatek's half of the draw does include a number of potential stumbling blocks.

Those include No. 4 Elena Rybakina, the 2022 Wimbledon champion and No. 6 Coco Gauff, who has won two tournaments in the past month -- including taking out Swiatek on her way to the Western & Southern Open title.

Gauff has the third-lowest odds at the book, and is second with 21.9 percent of the total bets and 17.1 percent of the money backing the young American to claim her first Grand Slam title.

Gauff will begin her tournament against unseeded German Laura Siegemund and the first seeded player she could potentially face is No. 32 Elise Mertens in the third round.

If Gauff advances beyond the third round, where big-hitting fellow American Danielle Collins could also await, that half of the draw also includes former Grand Slam champions No. 11 Petra Kvitova, No. 18 Victoria Azarenka, No. 20 Jelena Ostapenko and unseeded Caroline Wozniacki. One potential stumbling block, No. 8 seed Maria Sakkari, was upset in the first round Monday, while No. 10 Karolina Muchova cruised into the second round.

Second-seeded Aryna Sabalenka will begin her tournament against unseeded Maryna Zanevska. With the second-shortest odds to win the women's title at +400, Sabalenka has been backed by 9.5 percent of the tickets and 8.0 percent of the money.

The 25-year-old from Belarus claimed her first Grand Slam title at the Australian Open earlier this year but was bounced in the semifinals at both the French Open and Wimbledon. She also lost in the semis of the U.S. Open each of the past two years.

Sabalenka's half of the draw would appear to be a little less daunting on paper.

No. 3 seed Jessica Pegula has been backed by 4.9 percent of both the total bets and money at BetMGM, but the American has yet to advance past the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam event. Fifth-seeded Ons Jabeur has made history by becoming the first Muslim player to reach a Grand Slam final, but she lost to Swiatek in last year's U.S. Open final and has lost in the Wimbledon finals each of the past two years.

Other notable names in Sabalenka's half of the draw include No. 7 Caroline Garcia, Wimbledon champion and No. 9 seed Marketa Vondrousova, No. 17 seed Madison Keys and No. 28 seed Elina Svitolina, the former No. 3 player in the world who reached the semifinals at Wimbledon last month.

--Field Level Media