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Penpix of the top women's contenders at the U.S. Open

(Reuters) - Penpix of the top women’s contenders at the U.S. Open:

FILE PHOTO: Tennis - LiveScore Cup - I. Czech Lawn Tennis Club, Prague, Czech Republic - June 6, 2020 Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova in action during her match against Czech Republic's Tereza Martincova, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) REUTERS/David W Cerny

1-Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)

World ranking: 3

Born: March 21, 1992 (Age: 28)

Grand Slam titles: None

WTA career titles: 16

Best U.S. Open performance: Final (2016)

World number three Pliskova headlines a weakened women’s field after six of the world’s top-10 players skipped the tournament due to COVID-19 concerns.

Top seed Pliskova missed the claycourt Prague Open this month to focus on hardcourt training as the Czech aims to better her 2016 U.S. Open performance where she lost to German Angelique Kerber in her maiden Grand Slam final.

2-Sofia Kenin (U.S.)

World ranking: 4

Born: Nov. 14, 1998 (Age: 21)

Grand Slam titles: 1

WTA career titles: 5

Best U.S. Open performance: Third round (2017, 2018, 2019)

Second seed Kenin will look to pick up from where she left off following her maiden Grand Slam victory at the Australian Open in Melbourne this year.

The COVID-19 shutdown could not have come at a worse time for the 21-year-old who was in form having also won the hardcourt tournament in Lyon in March.

3-Serena Williams (U.S.)

World ranking: 9

Born: Sept. 26, 1981 (Age: 38)

Grand Slam titles: 23

WTA career titles: 73

Best U.S. Open performance: Winner (1999, 2002, 2008, 2012, 2013, 2014)

With several top seeds skipping the tournament, Williams has a huge opportunity at Flushing Meadows to seal her elusive 24th Grand Slam title and equal Margaret Court’s record having last won the Australian Open in 2017.

The American has lost her last four Grand Slam finals -- all in straight sets -- including the last two in New York and the 38-year-old has work to do to add to her tally after suffering a quarter-final exit in Lexington this month.

4-Naomi Osaka (Japan)

World ranking: 10

Born: Oct. 16, 1997 (Age: 22)

Grand Slam titles: 2

WTA career titles: 5

Best U.S. Open performance: Winner (2018)

After winning two consecutive Grand Slam titles, Osaka has had a dip in form, including a third-round exit at the 2020 Australian Open, and she has fallen from world number one to 10th in the WTA rankings.

The Japanese, who won her first Grand Slam in New York in 2018, will be eager to put her 2019 injuries behind her and look to regain that form that helped her make a comeback last year with two back-to-back titles in the Asian swing.

11-Elena Rybakina (Kazakhstan)

World ranking: 17

Born: June 17, 1999 (Age: 21)

Grand Slam titles: None

WTA career titles: 2

Best U.S. Open performance: First round (2019)

Rising talent Rybakina was in sublime form before the COVID shutdown, with the 19-year-old playing in four finals in January and February and sealing her second WTA title in Hobart.

The big-serving Kazakh leads the tour this season with 146 aces and her journey from being a raw talent to a potential threat makes her one of the tournament’s dark horses in a weakened field.

Kim Clijsters

World ranking: N/A

Born: June 8, 1983 (Age 37)

Grand Slam titles: 4

WTA career titles: 41

Best U.S. Open performance: Winner (2005, 2009, 2010)

Clijsters returned to tennis this year after nearly eight years away from the sport and concerns remain over her fitness after the former world number one withdrew from this week’s Western and Southern Open due to an abdominal injury.

The Belgian’s retirement U-turn in 2009 proved fruitful as she won the U.S. Open in her third tournament back and she will be hoping for a repeat as she bids for a fourth crown at Flushing Meadows.

Compiled by Manasi Pathak in Chennai, editing by Ed Osmond

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