1. Simona Halep: The one to beat. And it won't be easy. So good luck, ladies listed below. Here stands one of the most mentally tough players the tour has seen since Serena and Maria. I know a lot has been made of the logjam in her quarter, but what she did this summer turned me into a convert. Her match against Sloane Stephens, and even Kiki Bertens, were just awesome displays of tenacious tennis. When you consider that she was doing two-a-days in her last two tournaments. And all of that extra tennis played could come back and bite her in the form of exhaustion. But I don't think she gets tired, y'all.
2. Caroline Wozniacki: Ever since she won Australia, she's been all over the place. Her first round is against Sam Stosur, and if/when she comes up against Bertens, she's probably going to go to the low end of that "place."
3. Sloane Stephens: I have to admit that I thought that her title here last year was a blip, a lucky bounce here and there. That semi against Venus literally hung on a couple of tough rallies. But Sloane has backed it up with a French Open final appearance and a couple of really strong showings against Halep. I wish she had a real weapon, something that could end a point in under 15 minutes, but here we are.
4. Angelique Kerber: Hey, when's she's not No. 1, she's killing the competition. Her Wimbledon final performance was just stellar. She's got a good draw and I can see her making the semis, easy.
5. Petra Kvitova: She's had a strong summer, but there are some floaters in this draw she needs to look out for -- Aryna Sabalenka and Naomi Osaka.
6. Caroline Garcia: Garcia has had an up-and-down season, not a lot of consistency. And her first round is against a resurgent Johanna Konta, so that's not great. Then possibly Monica Puig, who beat her last week in Connecticut, and as someone who watched that match, I have no idea how Garcia managed to lose. So not much hope for her here.
7. Elina Svitolina: If this were a tournament that wasn't a major, I'd say, sure. Let's go with Svitolina. But it's a major, so Agz Radwanska will likely be the first and last person Svitolina sees on a tennis court in New York.
8. Karolina Pliskova: I have concerns. She's got some coaching changes going on -- she just snagged Conchita Martinez, so maybe she can help Pliskova figure out how to win this summer. She's had losses to Sabalenka and Bertens, and even Ekaterina Makarova the last few tournaments, so we will see.
9. Julia Goerges: It's great to see Goerges having great results again and she's in Svitolina's quarter, so maybe things will work out for a run to the quarters?
10. Jelena Ostapenko: Given her high-risk game, you just have to wait until the match with her. Andrea Petkovic is going to be a tough first round because Petkovic can handle the power, so should be fun!
11. Daria Kasatkina: Gonna have to do a hard pass here.
12. Garbine Muguruza: We just gotta see what kind of mood Muguruza is in right now. If she's in a good mood, this draw is here for her. If she's in a bad mood, Maria Sakkari or Pliskova will be waiting to see her out of Queens.
13. Kiki Bertens: It has a heckuva year for Bertens. I really love her game. The thing that had been missing until this year was the mental toughness. She'd have players in a corner and then she'd blink. Not this year. The way she handled that Halep match in the Rogers Cup final was really impressive. Quarters at the least for her.
14. Madison Keys: On the whole, it's been a pretty meh year for Keys. So I'm not expecting another run to the final from her.
15. Elise Mertens: Nah.
16: Venus Williams: It's not been a great year for Venus, and if she wants to replicate her semifinal run from last year, she'd have to bypass her sister, Simona Halep, and probably Muguruza and Pliskova. That's just her quarter. I don't know is all I'm saying.
Serena Williams: Yes, it is completely possible she wins the whole thing. What's more likely, though, is that her lackluster court movement will be exposed early on by some quality opponents -- there are many in her quarter alone -- including her own sister.
Aryna Sabalenka: I still want to know if what she was sniffing during the Fed Cup last year was legal. Whatever it is might have taught her how to volley, because her game is locked and loaded right now. I just watched her win the Connecticut Open and her game is BIG. It's also INCONSISTENT. She is also as MOODY as the average teenager.
Magdalena Rybarikova: She's in Svitolina's quarter and I see her as the main beneficiary when Svitolina flames out for some ridiculous reason.
First Round Matches to Watch
These first round matches could be very consequential to the way this tournament shakes out. Not even hyperbol-ing right now.
Patty Schnyder v. Maria Sharapova: I don't give her more than six games, but you gotta love Patty Schnyder out here talking trash on the Tennis Twitter streets like she never left the game.
Maybe someone know this, but I think in 18 years I never loose a first round @usopen ...— Patty Schnyder (@pattyschnyder) August 21, 2018
Simona Halep v. Kaia Kanepi: Picking Halep, but should be entertaining at least.
Venus v. Svetlana Kuznetsova: The sad part is that if Venus gets out of this match, it just gets worse for her.
Sachia Vickery v. Svitolina: Many opportunities for Svitolina flame-outs. This will be just the first.
Johanna Konta v. Caroline Garcia: Konta needs to get her ranking up. Because this is cruel.
Jelena Ostapenko v. Andrea Petkovic: Petkovic has retired that dance by now, right?
Sabalenka v. Danielle Collins: Collins has cooled a bit since the spring, but this still could be entertaining.
Laura Siegemund v. Naomi Osaka: Fully expecting Osaka to make it through this one, but should be a good match.
Wozniacki v. Stosur: Sam Stosur won the U.S. Open once. Let that one marinate.