Is round 3 possible? Sure.
Serena Williams’ Quarter
Serena Williams received no favors from her 2016 US Open draw. Ekaterina Makarova is far from an ideal first round opponent. Simona Halep won Montreal and played reasonably well in Cincinnati. Heather Watson or Lucie Safarova could await Serena in the final 8 if Halep fails to reach that round. Serena should come out of this quarter in theory, but she will have a number of stern tests.
Agnieszka Radwanska’s Quarter
This quarter is much softer. Venus Williams and Agnieszka Radwanska are the top two seeds in a quarter lacking star power. This quarter is fertile ground for an unexpected semifinalist’s emergence. 10th seed and Cincinnati champion Karolina Pliskova could ride a wave of momentum into the final four.
Garbine Muguruza’s Quarter
After Garbine Muguruza’s listless semifinal effort in Cincinnati, she can’t be seen as an obvious favorite in her quarter. Madison Keys could very well reach the semifinal round, but she drew a tough first match and has absorbed a number of tough losses and near misses this summer. Gold Medalist Monica Puig deserves attention in this quarter as well. Several Romanian players as well as veteran Svetlana Kuznetsova (2004 US Open champion – has it been that long?) could find themselves deep in the draw. Keys seems like a solid but not overwhelming favorite for the final four.
Angelique Kerber’s Quarter
Angelique Kerber has a workable but not easy road to the semifinal round. Her second round match could be challenging. Elina Svitolina is a talented and potentially tough opponent (just ask Serena). Christina McHale may challenge 2015 runner-up Roberta Vinci’s quarterfinal plans. Dominika Cibulkova and Petra Kvitova are also plausible semifinalists.
Serena Williams vs. Karolina Pliskova
Madison Keys vs. Angelique Kerber