Serena goes for history at US Open

Serena Williams aims for history when she attempts to tie Steffi Graf for the most grand slams in the Open Era at the US Open. Can she also become the first player to win all four slams in a season since Graf? Associated Press/Getty Images

Tennis is in full swing starting Monday. The final grand slam of the year kicks off on August 31. A late start to the US Open. But the Big Apple is ready.

So are the players including Serena Williams, who will attempt to become the first player to win all four grand slams in the same year since Steffi Graf did it in 1988.The 33-year old number one ranked American has dominated this season posting a 48-2 match record while winning the last four slams including last year’s Open over gal pal Caroline Wozniacki. Williams says she’s ready for the challenge. It should be exciting to follow.

Who can stop her? Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova and Victoria Azarenka are the best candidates. Azarenka usually gives Serena the best matches. There are always twists and turns. She remains ranked outside the top 10. If put in the same section, the two-time Australian Open champion is a strong hard court player who can go toe to toe with Williams. However, it’s Serena’s serve that remains the biggest weapon on the WTA Tour. That combined with the will to win make her one of the all-time greats.

I’ll also give honorable mention to Petra Kvitova. But she’s better on grass where she’s won two Wimbledons. Though she is a big hitter albeit a bit streaky. You never know what to expect from the big Czech. Belinda Bencic recently defeated Williams in Toronto. The Swiss teen sensation is a player to watch. Hopefully, she won’t fizzle out like Canadian Genie Bouchard. Down to number 25, Bouchard has become an afterthought despite her looks. She has had an awful season losing 16 of 25 matches.

Wozniacki is always a candidate at her favorite tournament. A two-time runner up, the blonde Danish beauty is ranked fourth and is a crowd favorite. But her season has been disappointing. Particularly at the slams with her best result a fourth round showing at Wimbledon where she lost to Spanish finalist Garbine Muguruza. If you missed her photo shoot, shame shame. It would be nice to see her finally win one. We’ll see if she has another run in store.

The U.S. Open doesn’t release the bracket until Friday. But Williams is the top seed and expected to complete the grand slam. Not the Serena slam. This is much bigger. She’s also going for her 22nd major which would match Graf for the most all-time in the Open Era. Margaret Court won a record 24. It would be great to see Serena tie Graf and have a cool ceremony featuring the former number one ranked German. One can only hope.

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Derek Felix

Derek Felix is sports blogger whose previous experience included two stints at ESPN as a stat researcher for NHL and WNBA telecasts. The Staten Island native also worked behind the scenes for MSG as a production assistant on New Jersey Devil games. An avid New York sports fan who enjoys covering events, writing, concerts, movies and the outdoors, Derek has scored Berkeley Carroll basketball games since 2006 and provided an outlet for the Park Slope school's student athletes. Hitting Back gives them the publicity they deserve. From players, coaches to administrators, it's a first class program. In his free time, he also attends Ranger games and is a loyal St. John's alum with a sports management degree.

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