The 2017 Us Open draw was released on Friday and with that comes the ability to start making predictions. The main-draw matches start on Monday, players are currently in New York on the practice courts, and tons of pundits promise to weigh in on their views regarding what will happen in the upcoming fortnight. Here's a look at five predictions for the 2017 US Open [VIDEO], starting with the first-round match between Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova.

Halep to beat Sharapova, reversing record

Simona Halep is 0-6 against Maria Sharapova and that suggests, quite strongly, that the Russian will defeat the No. 2 seed in their first-round match from Flushing Meadows.

However, Halep should, in fact, defeat Sharapova in this case. The Russian recently interviewed at the US Open and stated that her training and preparation has not been what she would have liked it to be. She mentioned having to pull out of Stanford, Toronto, and Cincinnati due to her forearm injury and stated to her interviewers: "I haven't had the best preparation to be honest" (qtd from the US Open's Youtube video on August 23rd). Her feelings of optimism must be worse following Friday's draw release and seeing Halep's name beside her own.

Halep has had good preparations as she was very involved in numerous draws. Sharapova is still very much trying to find her form after her suspension and now her injury. The World No. 2 is not the kind of player you warm up against, it's a player where you must be at the top of your game.

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For that reason, Sharapova looks like a high-profile first-round casualty in New York.

Sloane Stephens makes the 4th round, at least

Sloane Stephens has certainly made her return to the WTA Tour with some authority recently. The American has two victories over Petra Kvitova in recent draws. Despite an early-round draw against Roberta Vinci, probably Dominika Cibulkova, and then possibly Ana Konjuh, Stephens looks to be playing strong enough tennis to outlast those players in Flushing Meadows [VIDEO]. Her ranking still isn't high enough on tour to get a seed, however, Stephens is easily a top-sixteen player in the draw based on her results from the big events from Toronto and Cincinnati. Look for Stephens to make at least the fourth round for a possible showdown between her and British player Johanna Konta.

First-time champion at the 2017 US Open

Predicting the first-time champion may in fact not be going so far out on a limb as it normally would. Without Serena Williams, in the draw, there is no dominant past champion at Flushing Meadows this season.

Her and Sam Stosur are two former champs that are both sidelined at the moment. Furthermore, two other champions from this decade are already retired, namely 2015 champion Flavia Pennetta and 2010 champion Kim Clijsters.

Angelique Kerber, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Sharapova, and Venus Williams are the past champions in the field. Williams is the only one who has played well enough in majors this season to suggest that she could make the late rounds with a chance of winning. However, the huge majority of the legitimate contenders are players that have never won the US Open. Their strength of numbers certainly suggests that Flushing Meadows will crown a maiden title winner this season.

Catherine Bellis makes the quarterfinals

Catherine Bellis often plays strong tennis in North America. Still, just 18 years old Bellis won a match over Dominika Cibulkova three years ago at the age of 15 at the US Open. Bellis also made the third round at Flushing Meadows last year after barreling through three qualifying matches and she has only improved since then. Furthermore, Bellis enjoyed some success on the hard courts in North America about a year ago with two ITF titles in Canada ahead of a title in the 125K series in Hawaii.

She is in a section of the draw where Kuznetsova is the high seed, but the American owns a recent win over the Russian. Agnieszka Radwanska is also seeded in Bellis' path to the quarters, but Radwanska is a player not having a good season at all. Look for the American to steal some headlines in New York and to cement herself into the minds of the American tennis fans.