Sportico is proud to partner with The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management.

Unlike the men’s team, Novak Djokovic has worked for everyone so far Grand Slam, various players on the women’s tour have won trophies at the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon. There were also 13 unique winners in the last 18 slams, compared to just four for the ATP.

On the way to the U.S. Open is a mix of traditional favorites and emerging first-time champions. The Americans have an impressive 16 players in the top 100 and have always been successful in front of their home crowd in New York. Ash Barty will try to play in a row after winning Wimbledon. Osaka returns in their first slam since withdrawing from the French Open. There is no shortage of storylines in the women’s draw, which makes for a fascinating tournament. In the midst of the unpredictability of the women’s team, we tried to predict a winner by simulating the tournament to find estimated probabilities for each individual player in the draw to not only reach a particular round, but to win everything.

Trying to predict outcomes with probabilities is common in sports. But it’s much easier to play in a single game between two teams, or even in your standard 16-team playoff bracket, than in a 128-team grand slam tennis tournament. This is because many probabilities are interdependent are and can change meaningfully with every result, especially unexpected ones. For example, if Barty were to lose the draw in an earlier round (unlikely as that may be), the winning probability of No. 3 seeded Osaka would drastically increase as she would no longer have to play Barty.

Nevertheless, we can try to predict the outcome of the US Open through a simulation. For my simulation, I used Tennis Abstract’s Elo ratings, which can be adjusted for different surfaces. For example, Osaka ranks second in Elo on hard courts but 12th on clay. Now, with the actual draw, we can simulate the tournament thousands of times with Elo ratings to see the various possible outcomes. This ultimately gives us a chance that each player will make or even win a certain round. For example, if Barty wins the simulation 3,000 times out of 10,000, she has about a 30% chance of winning. While there is seeding in tennis (No. 1-No. 32), the draw is more random than in other professional playoffs that are based solely on seeding. In a Grand Slam, a No. 1 seed could play a No. 17 seed or a No. 32 seed in the third round. This creates opportunities for many interesting matchups throughout the tournament, with potential surprises haunting the star players.

Ash Barty: While Djokovic dominated the men, Barty commands the women’s tour. She won her first Wimbledon in July and lost only two sets throughout the tournament. It stalled in the first round of the Tokyo Olympics but then crossed the Cincinnati 1000 without losing a single set. The Australian has held the No. 1 rankings since September 2019, but hasn’t converted that much at Grand Slam level, with only two in her name. But 2021 was her best year so far with five titles and six finals from the 19 tournaments she played. A possible final with Naomi Osaka (Barty would be a 57% favorite) would be fascinating as the two split their four games and haven’t met since 2019. In the middle of her career year, Barty has a 27% chance of taking home her first US Open.

Naomi Osaka: Barty may be number 1 and the overall favorite, but Osaka will likely get the most attention on their first slam retreat since their withdrawal from the French Open after indications of mental health problems. In her first two tournaments, she lost in the third round of the Olympics in her home country to future silver medalist Marketa Vondrousova and then lost in the second round of Cincinnati. Nevertheless, due to her strong history, she still ranks second in the hard court Elo. Osaka plays on the best surface of her career (70% win rate) and her best slam after winning the US Open in 2018 and 2020. The hard courts match her penetrating offensive groundstrokes and large serve (she wins nearly 64% of her serve). Points, second on tour). Osaka will seek a triumphant return on the biggest stage in New York City with a 21% chance of the title.

With Serena Williams out of the tournament due to the hamstring injury she sustained at Wimbledon, the 23 other Americans in the draw are trying to make a deep run. Of these 23, almost half are 21 years of age or younger. Coco Gauff, the 17-year-old phenomenon, Coco Gauff makes headlines in this young group and with 0.7% has the fourth highest chance of all Americans to take home the title like the US Open, is historically their weakest slam. Part of that is due to their tough draw. In the second round, Gauff would play against either the 2017 finalist Madison Keys or the 2017 champion Sloane Stephens, who battle it out in what could be an epic first round match. Gauff is also in the same quarter as Osaka, which she just defeated in Cincinnati in a close three-set match.

Jenn Brady, the highest seeded American in 13th place and semi-finalist in 2020, has better chances of the title than Gauff (2% and 42% second weekend), but also the 23rd Jessica Pegula (2% and 40% second weekend) and Danielle Collins (1% and 29% second weekend). Even if the GOAT of American women’s tennis will not be there (it has reached the semifinals or better at every US Open since 2008), there is still a high probability that an American will make a deep run.

Bianca Andreescu: The number 6 has never lost a game in the main draw of the US Open. But that’s just a statistical quirk based on a very small sample size. If you take a closer look at the 2019 winner – who was 19 years old at the time and now 24th. The young Canadian is struggling 13-9 this year, but her WTA ranking is always because of the ranking protection for COVID-19 still high. Apart from her 2019 US Open, Andreescu has never reached the third round of any other slam. She lost in the first round of the French Open, Wimbledon (of which our two previous slam simulations gave her low odds despite their high seeds) and the Cincinnati Masters, which is why she enters the Billie Jean King Tennis Center with only one 36% Chance of the second weekend and 1% chance of the title.

Iga Swiatek: Besides Andreescu, 20-year-old Swiatek is another young player who has not yet had enough slam experience, which leads to lower odds. Swiatek failed to make it through the third round of two appearances at Flushing Meadows. The model could have low odds due to her lack of experience and “match data” (she ranks 18th in Hard Elo). Even so, she didn’t have the best warm-up results, losing in the second round in Tokyo and in the first round in Cincinnati. As the youngest player in the top 20, she could have her deepest US Open run to date, but is not expected due to the math (41% for the second weekend).

Although tennis fans the absence of Serena Williams at her best tournament of theirs Career will definitely feel, many other interesting players will fill the void. Whether the new up-and-coming WTA executives in Barty or Osaka, young teenagers like Gauff or other Americans fighting for a slam on home soil, the women’s US Open 2021 promises excitement.

Sportico is proud to partner with The Harvard Sports Analysis Collective, a student-run organization dedicated to the quantitative analysis of sports strategy and management.

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