Published On: Sun, Aug 28th, 2016

Winners and losers of the US Open draw

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The 2016 US Open has been drawn and quartered, with the resulting bracket, as always, leaving some feeling better about their chances than others.

Before action kicks off Monday in Flushing Meadows, here are the biggest winners and losers of the men’s and women’s draws:

Men’s Draw

Winner: Andy Murray

Murray’s hopes of closing out a dream summer on a winning note got a big boost; he couldn’t have asked for a smoother road to his first US Open final since 2012. Beyond potentially tricky first-round opponent Lukas Rosol, there are few bad matchups or dangerous floaters in Murray’s quarter. The next-highest seed is No. 6 Kei Nishikori, who Murray has beaten in seven of eight head-to-head matches, including four straight.

Loser: Stan Wawrinka

Wawrinka’s made at least the quarters at each of the last three US Opens, but he’ll be hard-pressed to repeat that result with the draw he’s been handed. First-round opponent Fernando Verdasco is about as dangerous as unseeded men get, and a potential third-round clash with fire-breathing up-and-comer Alexander Zverev doesn’t look any more appealing. Survive that, and Wawrinka could meet Nick Kyrgios in the Round of 16. If all that isn’t troublesome enough, Wawrinka has to worry about this guy throwing a wrench in his quarter …

Winner: Juan Martin del Potro

Looking to build on an inspiring Olympic run, del Potro hit the jackpot with his wild-card draw in New York. He was fortunate enough to pull beatable countryman Diego Schwartzman in the first round, and arguably even more fortunate with his first potential seeded opponents. No. 19 Steve Johnson essentially plays a less effective version of del Potro’s game, and No. 11 David Ferrer is mired in his worst season of the decade. Look even further, and it’s not hard to see del Potro emerging from a quarter that’s headlined by Dominic Thiem (who’s admitted to wearing his body out with a jam-packed early-season schedule) and Wawrinka (who del Potro just beat at Wimbledon).

Women’s draw

Winner: Garbine Muguruza

If nothing else, Muguruza should find herself in the third round of the US Open for the first time. Her opening opponent, 138th-ranked qualifier Elise Mertens, will give way to either Anna Schmiedlova or Ana Sevastova – the former of whom Muguruza has ceded just one set to in five head-to-heads, the latter a journeywoman who’s won just seven Grand Slam matches in her career. The third round could give Muguruza a chance to avenge the savage beating Monica Puig handed her in Rio. If she does, her quarter should look wide open, with a potential blockbuster quarterfinal against Madison Keys looming.

Loser: Serena Williams

Serena comes into the tournament needing to reach the semis to hang onto her No. 1 ranking, and her draw has done her no favors. In order to get there, she’ll need to navigate a veritable minefield, starting with 36th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova (a two-time major semifinalist) in the first round, and continuing with potential third- and fourth-round opponents Ana Ivanovic and Sam Stosur – both of whom have beaten her at majors in the past (in Stosur’s case, twice). Should she escape that gauntlet, Serena may have to get past red-hot No. 5 Simona Halep, a brutal quarterfinal draw. If her shoulder remains a hindrance, Serena’s three-and-a-half-year run at No. 1 is in serious jeopardy.

Winner: Venus Williams

Incredibly, at age 36, Venus has boosted her ranking back up to No. 6 in the world, and that’s set her up well for another second-week run in Flushing Meadows. She gets the world’s 92nd-ranked player to start, and her first possible seeded opponent – Laura Siegemund – has made her bones as a clay-courter. Potential fourth-round foe Karolina Pliskova is no joke, but her Grand Slam struggles are real, and there’s no guarantee she’ll advance past the third round (she never has at a major). The same goes for potential quarterfinal opponent Aga Radwanska, who’s never made it out of the fourth round in Flushing Meadows. Venus’ quarter is right there for the taking.

Loser: Simona Halep

She’s in the same loaded quarter as Serena, but it’s tougher for Halep, since Serena has the luxury of not having to play herself. Halep has to go through the plucky Kirsten Flipkens in the first round, followed by some combination of Lucie Safarova (who’s a force when healthy), electric youngster Daria Gavrilova, huge-serving Timea Babos, Wimbledon semifinalist Elena Vesnina, and rock-solid veteran counterpuncher Carla Suarez Navarro, just to get a crack at Serena in the quarterfinals. Amazingly, some are still picking her to win the tournament.

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