Raducanu needing to improve serve if she is to come close to a repeat
Emma Raducanu's journey to the title last season was truly incredible, ranked 150 and needing to win three matches in qualifying even to make the main draw. Seven subsequent straight set victories ensued, as Raducanu demolished the field (which admittedly opened up for her, not needing to play a single top ten opponent) to lift the trophy.
However, the Brit has subsequently struggled, going 15-19 in her matches following that US Open title, and failed to make much of an impression in any of the Masters events in August (although she did demolish both Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka before losing to Jessica Pegula in round three), or at Wimbledon, where she was eliminated in round two.
On outdoor hard court this year, Raducanu is running at 102% combined service/return points won, with her serve numbers being pretty mediocre compared to tour benchmarks. Her return game is still strong, but for Raducanu to even come remotely close to her achievements in New York last year, she will need to get her serve working well again. If not, she could well find herself out in week one.
Swiatek favourite over competitive field
The outright market at the current time - a few hours prior to Thursday's draw - have the Brit as one of around a half-dozen contenders priced between the 20.019/1 and 30.029/1 mark, with only three players, Iga Swiatek, Simona Halep and Cori Gauff, priced shorter than 20.019/1.
I seem to be saying this in advance of every women's Grand Slam event, at least the ones not played on clay, that the field looks so competitive with in excess of 20 players genuinely having a decent shot at reaching the business end, but yet again, I'm saying the same thing.
Swiatek's status as tournament favourite at 5.49/2 looks justified to me.
Her hard court numbers this year (111% combined service/return points won) are elite level, and are marginally above Halep's.
As for Halep, she had a great start to August winning in Toronto, and defeating some high quality opposition. August then took a turn for the worse, where she picked up a thigh injury in Cincinnati and was forced to withdraw from the event. Given this, it's probably not a big surprise that Halep is almost double Swiatek's price, currently trading at 10.09/1.
Gauff another with injury doubts
The final player of the trio of market favourites, Cori Gauff, is another player with an injury doubt surrounding them. The American was forced to retire with an ankle injury against Marie Bouzkova in Cincinnati last week and hasn't won more than three consecutive matches since her run to the final at the French Open - so I'm not entirely sure why she's in favour over a lot of the other contenders priced around the 20.019/1 to 40.039/1 mark.
Of these, there are plenty - and I'll discuss them in further detail following the draw as I look to finalise the outrights in advance of the final Grand Slam of 2022.