Tennis Predictions & Picks

3 Dark Horses to Win the 2022 Women's U.S. Open

Naomi Osaka sends the ball back to Shuai Zhang during their match on Center Court at the 2022
Naomi Osaka sends the ball back to Shuai Zhang during their match on Center Court at the 2022 / Phil Didion / USA TODAY NETWORK
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With the U.S. Open qualifiers underway, we’ve now reached the final Grand Slam of the year. Iga Swiatek, the likely favorite for nearly every tournament going forward, is the player to catch. 

Elena Rybakina, coming off a championship at Wimbledon, is second in the odds standings at +1000. Nearly every player after Rybakina will be classified as a dark horse.

Here are three of them worth considering at this year's U.S. Open. 

Ons Jabeur (+1800)

Ons Jabeur returns in the third set set of a match between Petra Kvitova (CZE) and Ons Jabeaur (TUN)
Ons Jabeur returns in the third set set of a match between Petra Kvitova (CZE) and Ons Jabeaur (TUN) / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

At +1800, Jabeur might be the best value on the board. She’s coming off a Finals’ appearance at Wimbledon, losing to Elena Rybakina in three sets. That was the furthest Jabeur has gone in a Grand Slam and that momentum will carry her into the U.S. Open. 

Jabeur is the No. 5 player in the world and the fact she’s outside of the top 5 feels like a steal to me. She’s winning 72.3% of her service games and 40.3% of her return games. 

She’s had a good year thus far, and at 18/1, she is one of the top contenders to look out for. 

Coco Gauff (+1800)

Coco Gauff returns the ball to Marle Bouzkova during their match on the Grand Stand court.
Coco Gauff returns the ball to Marle Bouzkova during their match on the Grand Stand court. / Phil Didion / USA TODAY NETWORK

Gauff was upset in the third round at Wimbledon, but earlier this year at the French Open she showed she can compete with anyone. Gauff hasn’t been fantastic on hard courts in the past, but the progression she shows is what I’m putting my faith into. 

She’s shown flashes of dominance before. She’ll just have to be more consistent early on in the tournament. 

Naomi Osaka (+2000)

Aug 9, 2022; North York, ON, Canada;  Naomi Osaka (JPN) serves against Kaia Kanepi (EST)
Aug 9, 2022; North York, ON, Canada; Naomi Osaka (JPN) serves against Kaia Kanepi (EST) / Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

Osaka has fallen in the world rankings over the last year and a half and hasn’t had the best go of things. She’s failed to reach the fourth round in her last four Grand Slams and even missed the Wimbledon tournament twice. However, she’s won the U.S. Open twice (2018 and 2020)  and if the pattern continues, she’ll be a champion again. 

She’s won 85% of her matches in Flushing, as hard court is her best surface. For her to win it all, she’ll need to step up her return game. She’s only winning 31.5% of her return games, and that will put her at a serious disadvantage come the later rounds. She’s my least confident pick of all these dark horses, but there’s still value here. 


You can find Donnavan Smoot’s full betting record here.

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