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Page last updated at 21:53 GMT, Thursday, 27 August 2009 22:53 UK

Serena the one to beat in New York

Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Date: 31 August - 13 September
BBC coverage: Live text commentaries on the website from 1600 BST each day, regular updates on 5 live, full commentary on 5 live sports extra in week two, both finals on 5 live, tennis special on 5 live, 3 September, 2000-2100 BST

Anne Keothavong
Anne Keothavong
British number one

It's hard to pick a clear winner for the US Open but you can't really bet against Serena Williams when it comes to the Grand Slams, she has this knack of turning it on for the big events.

She hasn't actually performed very well since Wimbledon, I've watched some of her matches and she's lacked a bit of intensity and lost to players you wouldn't expect, but I'm sure when it comes to a Grand Slam she'll be very focused and turn it on.

Kim Clijsters
Clijsters quickly got back to winning ways after two years away

But I do think the women's draw at the US Open is so open, it's really up for grabs.

It will be interesting to see how Kim Clijsters does having had two years out of the game. She's made a pretty good comeback. In Cincinnati and Toronto she proved to everyone she can play well but I'm not sure she can go all the way.

It would be a great story if she did win the US Open but physically I wonder if she can play seven matches at that kind of level.

Maria Sharapova has been playing a bit better, she made the final in Toronto although looked a bit tired by the end, but now she's got her ranking back up and is seeded 29th. I think she'll do well but, again, seven matches is a lot.

In Toronto she scraped through a few matches and when she lost the first set against Elena Dementieva in the final she called on her coach and said her arm was getting tired. I do wonder how she will cope but it depends how she does early on. If she can win her early rounds comfortably then she can save a bit of energy.

Dinara Safina deserves her number one ranking because she's been the most consistent player on every surface over the last year.

She's a tough opponent but she can be up and down, and I'm not too sure that on the hard courts she's as effective as on a clay court. I'm sure she'll do well, but winning it - I'm not too sure.

Like her sister, Venus Williams also hasn't performed so well since Wimbledon and obviously grass is her best surface.

Keothavong starts road to recovery

On hard courts she's had some shocking losses - the other week it was against Kateryna Bondarenko, and these are players she should be beating comfortably.

Going into the US Open you would expect her to be playing a bit better but, again, it makes it more exciting.

After Serena there is no clear favourite. Flavia Pennetta and Sam Stosur have been playing very well - Sam, with the conditions and her serve and strength, is going to be a very dangerous opponent.

Talking of dangerous opponents, I don't think that Laura Robson's success in qualifying is that much of a surprise. I look at Laura and I expect her to do well, she's young and she's very talented. Laura's got everything to play for.

For someone who's 15 she's big and strong, so physically she's able to play against the older girls.

There's no pressure on her at the moment and she can go out there and swing away. The other players don't know her so well and they are going to feel the pressure.

On a personal note, I'm really sorry to be injured and missing what has always been my favourite tournament, even when I was a junior.


You get such a different buzz there and it's probably the complete opposite to what you get at Wimbledon in terms of atmosphere. I think people are a bit more rowdy in New York and you can smell burgers and chips and everything else around the courts.

The people get into it. Half of them may not know too much about tennis but they pick a player they want to support and they get into it.

It's always very humid at Flushing Meadows and the ball flies, it feels quite light there, and depending on your game style you either love it or you hate it.

Another thing about the US Open is that the junior players and the seniors all mix in, whereas at the other Grand Slam they're separate. In New York everyone is together, so if you're a junior player you could be having lunch next to Roger Federer, which is pretty cool.

Off the court it's a bit of a commute, it can take an hour and a half if you're stuck in rush hour to get from Manhattan to the tournament site. For players they have a coach or a car service but it's the one Grand Slam where transportation is quite tough.

But that's all part of it and I think everyone enjoys staying in New York, in terms of restaurants and shops.

If you're doing well in the tournament then you don't have time for shopping, so that's probably a good thing, but you've got make time and get down to one of those department stores.

Anne Keothavong was talking to Piers Newbery

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see also
Murray to face Gulbis at US Open
27 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Robson one win from US Open place
27 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Dementieva takes Rogers Cup title
23 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Jankovic halts Clijsters comeback
21 Aug 09 |  Tennis
Keothavong out for rest of season
29 Jul 09 |  Tennis

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