Simon Reed

Kind draw can help Azarenka to glory

Simon Reed

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With Serena Williams out of the US Open the women's tournament is wide open.

I suppose a rational way to look at things would be to go with form, although often the US Open tends to be won by the class player rather than the form player.

There have been a few players in outstanding form recently and none more so than Caroline Wozniacki.

It is quite hard to analyse the young Dane at the moment but she keeps beating the players that are being put in front of her so it may be her time to taste Grand Slam glory after coming so close here in New York last year.

It might be a case that she is just hitting form at the right time, but nevertheless I don't think her game is aggressive enough to win the title.

However, one thing I don't feel will bother her is having to carry the 'curse' of being the top seed. This has been a burden for others in the past, but I don't think it will be for her.

Psychologically and physically she just strolls through things, whether it is a hamstring injury or the pressure of being the latest blonde bombshell sensation.

What is stopping me tipping her though is that somewhere along the line I expect she will be beaten by an aggressive player who is playing at the top of her game. The 'Andy Murray syndrome', if you will: that is how he has been knocked out of many of his Grand Slam events.

What's more, Wozniacki really has not been lucky in the draw. She could face Maria Sharapova in the round of 16 and I couldn't pick a winner out of that potential match - it is a 50-50 call - so how I could I justify Wozniacki's favouritism when I'm not even sure she could get past that match?

Especially as I also think Sharapova is playing very well at the moment.

The bookmakers actually make Kim Clijsters the favourite but I cannot pick the Belgian. There is something about her demeanour that leads me to believe that she is not really enjoying her tennis at the moment.

If it all comes easy to her, then great, but she doesn't seem to have much of a plan other than to hit the crap out of the ball - sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. I wouldn't put any money on her.

She raised her game last year, and maybe she can do it again, but on what she has shown us recently I don't think it will be her year.

I think if you are looking for somebody who could really go far, the name that stands out for me is Victoria Azarenka, especially as I think she has a favourable draw.

Her section looks really weak and I see her with little to beat before the semi-finals. Venus Williams is in her quarter but she hasn't played much lately, and wasn't playing well before that.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova could potentially be difficult if she has a hot day but there is nobody else that I could see beating Azarenka. I see her as the finalist from that bottom half of the draw.

I've already mentioned some of the big names in the top half but one who I have not got to, and who I really fancy to do well, is Svetlana Kuznetsova.

Form is everything with Svetlana and she finally seems to be rediscovering her touch. She is looking fit after coming through a spell without any confidence, and it is all starting to come together for her. She is in that difficult section of the draw with Wozniacki and Sharapova, but she could do it.

I think Vera Zvonareva also has a nice run to the semi-finals. Agnieszka Radwanska could prove tricky but Zvonareva would be my tip for the last four.

If there is any outsider who could make an impression it could be Pavlyuchenkova who I have already mentioned. She is starting to become a real threat on her day but her big problem is that she is set to face Azarenka in the third round. If she could somehow get past that tie then she would become a contender.

So all in all it is a tough draw to predict, but I can foresee a Kuznetsova v Azarenka final. Now that would be a tricky final to call.

However, given that she has the kindest draw of all, I'm slightly leaning towards Azarenka as my pick for glory.

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