U.S. Open 2018 women's dark horses

Andrew Hendrie in US Open 23 Aug 2018
  • The U.S. Open crowned a surprise champion last year in Sloane Stephens
  • Could another dark horse step up and claim the title in 2018?
Kiki Bertens (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

We’ve seen a couple of surprise female major champions over the last couple of years, including Jelena Ostapenko at Roland Garros and defending U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens - are we set for another fresh face to join the Grand Slam honour roll in New York in 2018?

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Another thrilling and wide-open Grand Slam awaits at the U.S. Open beginning next week, with any number of 20+ players genuinely in with some sort of chance of claiming the title. With so many contenders, it makes it difficult to pick out some actual dark horses for the title, but we’ve selected our top three below…

Kiki Bertens


Almost out of nowhere, Kiki Bertens has transformed from a clay-court specialist into an all-court superstar as the powerful Dutchwoman has taken her game to enormous new heights over the last month or so. After making the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Bertens also reached the last eight in Canada before winning the biggest title of her career at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati last week, conquering World No. 1 Simona Halep in the final.. Furthermore, Bertens has now gone 8-0 in her last eight matches against top 10 opposition, firmly demonstrating she has the game to beat the very best players in the world.

Kiki Bertens (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)


Up to a career-high No. 13 in the world and securing a top 16 U.S. Open seeding as a result, just how far can Bertens go in New York? If she can reproduce the sort of form she displayed in Cincinnati, then there’s absolutely no reason she can’t go all the way. Of course the mental aspect of being in the spotlight - not something she craves - and the expectation of being labeled a contender is something Bertens hasn’t really had to deal with, but if she can push all of that outside talk to the side and simply focus on her game, the Dutchwoman has got to be considered as one of the leading favourites outside of the top 10 for the title.

Aryna Sabalenka


I’ve been hailing Aryna Sabalenka as a future Grand Slam champion for a couple of years now after first witnessing the explosive youngster bulldoze her way to multiple notable victories in Fed Cup for Belarus, and while it still might be a bit too early for her to secure a maiden Grand Slam title (she’s still yet to win a tour-level title), I do think she can challenge the top players and make it deep into the second week at the U.S. Open. Up to a career-high ranking of No. 25 after an already-fruitful summer, Sabalenka has backed up her run to the Eastbourne final on grass (where she beat Julia Goerges, Elise Mertens and Karolina Pliskova) by taking three top 10 scalps over the last two weeks, beating Caroline Wozniacki in Montreal and Pliskova again - along with Caroline Garcia and also No. 13 Madison Keys - to reach the Cincinnati semi-finals.

Aryna Sabalenka (Photo by Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images)


If you were to build a modern-day champion tennis player from scratch, Sabalenka would be close to perfection. Tall, powerful and with blistering weapons off both wings from the baseline - along with a booming serve and fiery intensity - Sabalenka has everything to capture multiple slams over the next decade. Incredibly, this will be the first time the 20-year-old has played the main draw of the U.S. Open - can she make it a tournament to remember?

Maria Sakkari


At 23 years of age, is it time for Maria Sakkari to take that next step in her promising career and make a big impact at a Grand Slam? The Greek star has already made a handful of third rounds, including last year at the U.S. Open when she beat Kiki Bertens before falling to Venus Williams, and after some encouraging results this season, the talented and physically-imposing youngster could be ready to cause some damage at Flushing Meadows over the next fortnight.

Maria Sakkari (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)


The daughter of a former top 50 WTA player, Sakkari was ranked No. 95 in the world this time last season, but she’s up to No. 32 upon her return to the U.S. Open, helped largely by a runner-up finish in San Jose to launch her U.S. Open Series, where she got her revenge over Venus before going down to Mihaela Buzarnescu in the final. Sakkari has added some aggression to her solid baseline game, is one of the fittest players out there and truly relishes the battle and individual one-one-one aspect of tennis. Anything can happen in Grand Slams, especially lately, and Sakkari is one of those players who’s good enough to take advantage should her section of the draw open up.


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U.S. Open 2018 women's dark horses

We’ve seen a couple of surprise female major champions over the last couple of years, including Jelena Ostapenko at Roland Garros and defending U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens - are we set for another fresh face to join the Grand Slam honour roll in New York in 2018?

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