The news that two-time defending champion Kim Clijsters would not be able to participate in the 2011 U.S. Open due to an abdominal injury surely brought sighs of relief throughout the women's bracket. Clijsters has won 21 consecutive matches in Flushing.
Then again, with Serena Williams again approaching her prime form, it's not like it's the field is totally wide open. After missing the 2010 Open, Serena appears to have regained her hard court form, looking healthy for perhaps the first time in 18 months. Another potential champ is 2006 winner Maria Sharapova, who has seen her play fluctuate for much of the season, but is more than capable, especially considering her recent win in Ohio.
Three other names to watch for are former U.S. Open and Wimbledon runner-up Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka (who just won in Miami on the hard court and could play Serena in the third round) and 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who may be ready to assert herself as a legitimate top three player.
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