This is not the easiest draw for a defending champion already struggling with injury having regained a little of her confidence after what felt like a tough European swing. If she can overcome losing head to heads to get through to the quarter-final then she faces the two Slam finalists who followed her victory Down Under, and neither are going to be easy to get past.
After a false start in Toronto, it was a better lead in to the US Open at Cincinnati for the laid-back Aussie who just takes everything in her stride. Her perspective since walking away from the sport and then coming back has made her pragmatic, and thus a danger.
She could hit a bump in the road should she face Serena Williams, but the 23-time Grand Slam champion has problems of her own, having drawn Maria Sharapova in the opening round! There are a couple of banana skins in this run up, but she has a decent chance of a deep run.
Could this be the year that Pliskova stops flying under the radar and makes another run to a Slam final, if not taking the next step? Certainly, with former Slam champion Conchita Martinez in her corner, she stands a good chance, and on paper, she should certainly be looking to get deep into the second week.
Could Halep make it two Slams back to back? She has a solid looking draw, and after getting a win in Cincy after retiring in Toronto with an Achilles tendon issue, she put in the hard yards with two three setters in Cincinnati.
If she is in full flow when the US Open starts she has to be counted as one of the contenders, as she searches for a first Slam title on hard courts.
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