Last year at the U.S. Open Sharapova looked worn down and a bit frazzled in an early-round loss to Flavia Pennetta. She’s had a better season thus far than she did in 2011, but the wear has begun to show again. Since winning the French Open in June, she’s lost early at Wimbledon, been steamrolled by Serena Williams for the Olympic gold, and contracted a stomach virus that has kept her out of the last two tournaments. But Sharapova, the 2008 champ here, is still ranked No. 3 in the world, and New York is still a town where stars like her tend to shine.
Why She’ll Win:
Sharapova has been the WTA’s most consistent player in 2012. She’s won a Slam, reached the final of another, won in Rome and Stuttgart, and made the finals in Indian Wells, Key Biscayne and the Olympics. If Serena goes out early, all eyes will shift to Maria.
Why She Won’t:
She’s gone deep at most events, but she’s had trouble sealing the deal. Sharapova began the year getting blown out by Victoria Azarenka in Australia and Indian Wells, and has moved on to blowout losses at the hands of Serena.
Sharapova has had a great 2012, but she has never won more than one major in a season; to break that streak, she’ll need Serena, and maybe Azarenka, to get knocked out early in the tournament.