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U.S. Open 2011: Women's Draw Preview And Odds

First Posted: 08/29/11 03:19 PM ET   Updated: 10/29/11 06:12 AM ET

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.

Serena Williams - 3/2
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Welcome back, Serena. Despite being seeded 28th, Williams appears to have overcome the foot injury and blood clot that caused her to miss 18 months of action. Her serve is once again consistent and powerful, her forehand is nearly unstoppable and her fitness is vastly improved. Poised to regain her status as the premier player in the women's game, she has already won tournaments on the hard court twice this summer, including a recent victory in Montreal. The three-time U.S. Open champ should have smooth sailing deep into the tournament with the exception of Victoria Azarenka.
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