US Open: A look at some of the youngsters who could contend at Flushing Meadows
By Razwan Mirza - Tweet me: @RazMirza. Last Updated: 24/08/13 1:53pm
Given the fact that Serena Williams has won 16 Grand Slam titles, the 31-year-old won't be around forever.
Previous Grand Slam winners Venus Williams, Li Na and Sam Stosur are also edging ever closer to retirement, while Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has already decided to hang up her racket.
World No 2 Victoria Azarenka is leading the charge for the new crop of stars in the women's game and there are a select group of women who are aiming to join the Belarusian as a future major champion.
We take a look at some of the youthful talent who will be aiming to make a major breakthrough at Flushing Meadows.
Laura Robson (Sky Bet odds: 200/1)
Laura Robson relishes taking on the very best players in the women's game
The teenager represents Britain's best hope of a Grand Slam women's champion since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977. Robson has all the attributes to achieve something special in the next couple of years, not least because she has the ammunition to wear down her opponents. She will relish the chance of taking on the very best players in the women's game in New York, especially having reached the fourth round of the tournament last year, a run which included a couple of giant-killing acts against grand slam champions Kim Clijsters and Li Na. Last summer Robson teamed up with Andy Murray to win an Olympic mixed-doubles silver medal and back at the All England Club this year she overwhelmed Maria Kirilenko en route to the fourth round. The Australian-born Robson, who moved to the UK when she was six, split with her former coach Zeljko Krajan earlier in the season and has been working with Miles Maclagan, who coached Andy Murray between 2007 and 2011. The 19-year-old lost to Sloane Stephens in the third round at the Australian Open in January and was defeated by Caroline Wozniacki in the opening round at Roland Garros. Her ultimate aim is to become a top 10 player and she clearly has shown that she has the ability to achieve that. Whether she will be completely fit for her opening round clash at Flushing Meadows is another matter, after being been forced to pull out of the Rogers Cup in Toronto due to a wrist injury.
Sloane Stephens (Sky Bet odds: 50/1)
Sloane Stephens loves the big stage as well as the attention
Although the American teen is the newcomer on the block, she oozes charm through her infectious personality. Stephens loves the big stage as well as the attention and she received plenty of it at this year's Australian Open after making it through to her first grand slam semi-final, thanks in large part to a sensational win over her idol Serena Williams. Despite going down to eventual champion Victoria Azarenka in the last four, the performance in Melbourne helped put her name on the tennis map as she rose to a new career-high ranking of 17. At Roland Garros the 20-year-old from Plantation, Florida enjoyed plenty of shopping, sightseeing and Haagen-Dazs ice cream. And at her favourite grand slam tournament of the year she reached the fourth round for the second consecutive year. Defending champion Maria Sharapova put paid to her hopes of progressing, but, once again, she showed what a threat she can be with her prodigious serve and powerful stroke play from the back of the court. Stephens took her excellent form into Wimbledon where she reached the quarter-finals for the first time. However, once again she was thwarted by an experienced campaigner in fifteenth seed and eventual champion Marion Bartoli. Her athleticism, speed and fluid motion makes her a dangerous competitor and she heads to Flushing Meadows having snatched her second major scalp of the season after toppling Sharapova in the second round at Cincinnati.
Madison Keys (Sky Bet odds: 250/1)
Madison Keys is another promising American who has everything in the locker
The big serving 18-year-old withdrew from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati with tendinitis in her right shoulder and will need to be fully fit if she is to give former world No 1 Jelena Jankovic an opening round test at Flushing Meadows. If the Rock Island native does fully recover for the final major of the year, then she will be one to keep a close eye out for. The 40th-ranked Keys, at 5ft 10in, is still growing and looks to have everything in the locker, including a monster serve and some ferocious groundstrokes. She has wonderful balance and her court coverage can compete with some of the very best. After failing to make an impression in Melbourne and Roland Garros she reached the quarter-finals on grass in Birmingham. Then, at Wimbledon, Keys destroyed British No 2 Heather Watson before bowing out in the third round to the unorthodox Agnieszka Radwanska. Madison may hold the key to the future of women's tennis in America and clearly has the weapons to be a top 10 player. She will receive tremendous backing from the Flushing Meadows' crowd if she overcomes her niggling injury when she takes on the Serbian.
Kristina Mladenovic (Sky Bet odds: 500/1)
Kristina Mladenovic has won back-to-back grand slam mixed doubles titles this year
Since winning the Junior French Open girls' singles title in 2009, Mladenovic's game has gone from strength to strength. Without doubt this has been the Frenchwoman's breakthrough year, jumping from world No 76 to 37 in the space of 12 months. She won her first ever WTA title at the Taipei WTA Open towards the end of last season, and this year, she teamed up with Canada's Daniel Nestor for the mixed doubles at the French Open. They surprised many by reaching the final, but were eventually defeated in a super tie-break by Czech pair Lucie Hradeck and Frantisek Cermak. However, she and Nestor rebounded from the loss by capturing their first grand slam title at Wimbledon. At 6ft 1in, Mladenovic isn't at all bad in singles action either having made four-time grand slam champion Maria Sharapova sweat on Centre Court in their first round encounter at the All England Club. The 20-year-old reached the third round of the US Open last year and will be aiming to equal that feet this time around, although all eyes will be on whether she and veteran Nestor can reach a third mixed doubles grand slam final.
Eugenie Bouchard (Sky Bet odds: 500/1)
Eugenie Bouchard upset former No 1 Ana Ivanovic at Wimbledon
Genie is a former Wimbledon junior singles and doubles champion who recently soared to her highest WTA ranking of 55 following a strong showing this summer. The 19-year-old's rise is all the more remarkable considering she was ranked at 144 towards the end of last year. After failing to qualify for the Australian Open she made it through to the semi-finals of the Internationaux de Strasbourg before losing out to Frenchwoman Alize Cornet. The girl from Westmount, Quebec, made her first grand slam main draw appearance at the French Open but went out to world No 2 Maria Sharapova in the second round. At Wimbledon, she recorded a career best win against former No 1 Ana Ivanovic on Centre Court and made it as far as the third round before being eliminated by Carla Suarez Navarro. At the Western & Southern Open, Bouchard gave 16-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams a severe test over three sets in their second round clash. She sports a long and lean frame, bright smile and golden locks and if she continues to show the same kind of skill, athleticism and aggression in her game, Bouchard has every chance of causing and upset or two in New York.
Donna Vekic (Sky Bet odds: 1000/1)
Donna Vekic reached the WTA Aegon Classic final in Birmingham this summer
There have been a number of comparisions made between the 17-year-old from Croatia and four-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova. Vekic is another one of the teen queens who is eager to make an impact on the women's game. Vekic, who trains in London and is mentored by 18-time grand slam champion Chris Evert, has already made it to two WTA Tour finals in her fledgling career. The most recent was at the Aegon Classic in Birmingham this summer, where she lost out to the experienced Daniela Hantuchova. Although she has yet to put together a solid run at a major, she has time on her side and will hope to improve on her current world ranking of 65 at Flushing Meadows.
The Slovakian duo are a growing force in the women's game
The Slovakian duo are both 24 years old, but they have been enjoying a successful last couple of years for the small Eastern European nation. The diminutive Cibulkova stands at just 5ft 3in tall but carries tremendous power. She was responsible for one of the upsets of last season when she took out top seed Victoria Azarenka at the French Open on her way to the quarter-finals. Most of Cibulkova's best results have come on the clay, although her success at Carlsbad last year and Stanford this year suggests she can compete on the hardcourts. Rybarikova, meanwhile, has been more successful in terms of WTA titles, having won in Birmingham, Memphis and claiming back-to-back titles in Washington DC. The lean and leggy player has a beautiful two-handed backhand and has a smooth and smart game which includes a solid serve and variation to her groundstrokes. She has recovered from a recent back injury to take her place in the draw for the final slam of the year and will arrive high on confidence.