Serena in line for calendar-year Grand Slam
World No. 1's unwavering belief will see her complete calendar-year Grand Slam
All eyes are on Serena Williams at the US Open.
The world No. 1 recently completed her second "Serena Slam" at Wimbledon, having won four back-to-back Grand Slam titles since last year's US Open.
This year at Flushing Meadows, Serena Williams will be looking to add a few more entries of her name into the record books.
Should she win the US Open this year, Serena will complete the calendar-year Grand Slam, achieved by only Steffi Graf in 1988 since the Open era (1953 by Maureen Connolly and 1970 by Margaret Court pre-Open era).
If the American wins her seventh title in the Big Apple, she will also be the woman with the most US Open singles title in the Open era (seven), tie Chris Evert for the most consecutive US Open singles titles (four) and tie Graf for the most singles Grand Slam titles in the Open era (22).
With all these at stake, the question is whether she can do it.
Statistically, it is very possible. Serena's performance has been astounding in all aspects.
Since her return in 2011, she has won 94.5 per cent of her matches. This year, that win ratio has gone up to 96 per cent, 48 out of 50 matches.
TOUGH TO BEAT
What makes Serena difficult to beat is also how she rises to the occasion.
When playing against the current WTA top 10 players, she has won 91.4 per cent of the encounters.
The 33-year-old's mental toughness also shows when matches get tight and head into a third set - she has won 14 out of 15 of those this year.
Serena has an unwavering belief in herself and it is unlike anything I have witnessed. When she is down, she digs deep and often comes back to win it because she believes that she can do it, regardless of the score.
Her most recent loss came in the semi-finals of Toronto, at the hands of an inspired WTA Rising Star, Belinda Bencic, who played the tournament of her career then.
Can the Swiss teenager do it again at the US Open if she meets Serena?
The new world No. 12 would first have to nurse her right wrist injury to have a decent shot.
Serena's other defeat this year was by two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who eventually won the title at Madrid.
While in recent months, the Czech has had some challenges, we know that she is a great champion who has the skills to beat anyone and we look forward to having her back in top form.
It is always fascinating to watch Simona Halep play against Serena.
There is a great contrast in styles - the physically stronger Serena being the powerful hitter and the smaller but incredibly athletic Simona moving swiftly to the ball, striking aggressively and looking to outmanoeuvre her opponent.
Their matches have always been tight and Simona did hand Serena her worst loss since she was 16, delivering a 6-0, 6-2 blow at last year's BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.
With her back-to-back final appearances in Toronto and Cincinnati, especially in that tight match with Serena last week, we know that Simona has found her confidence.
When she plays with full confidence, the Romanian is surely a top contender to stop Serena.
We can also never discount any of the top players and WTA Rising Stars.
Great competitors like Maria Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki, Ana Ivanovic and former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, are all dangerous opponents especially if they play like they have nothing to lose.
Karolina Pliskova, Garbine Muguruza and Bencic are some of the WTA Rising Stars who have taken big steps in their careers and right now only a fine line sets them apart from the best in the world.
The Road to Singapore leaderboard is so tight that only 12 points separate the players between No. 4 and No. 7, and this close competition makes the countdown to the WTA Finals exciting to watch every week.
On Monday, Serena will be heading into the last Grand Slam of the season with 28 consecutive match wins at the tournament.
She will be carrying the momentum of her Cincinnati title last week into New York. She will also be playing in her best-performing Major in front of her home crowd.
I believe that the veteran has the experience to rise to the occasion again and break more records.
As Simona said during the final of Cincinnati: "I believe you can do all four."
Regardless, the defending champion has already secured her spot for the WTA Finals here in October, and I know all her fans cannot wait to see her again.
By the numbers
28: Serena Williams enters the US Open with a 28-match winning streak at Grand Slams, the second-longest streak of her career (33). Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova own the longest streak (45).