Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will collide for the first time at the US Open Monday evening after being draw to face-off in the first round.
Serena has won 19 of 21 matches against her “rival” who hasn’t won since the 2004 WTA championships almost 15 years ago.
Since then, it’s been all Serena, however both former No. 1s and Hall of Famers enter with some question mark. Serena has been troubled by a back while Sharapova has been dealing with a bad shoulder.
While that is the marquee match of the first round, there is a lot going on with the draw.
The also-injured Naomi Osaka will try to defend her biggest career title by also recovering from a knee injury. The Japanese star opens against the young 20-year-old Russian Anna Blinkova then could either teen Coco Gauff or Anastasia Potapova who meet in the first round. The struggling Kiki Bertens is in the quarter along with the steady Anett Kontaveit and the powerful but slumping Aryna Sabalenka who opens against 2-time finalist Victoria Azarenka.
The second quarter is home to Simona Halep who has lost her last three matches at the US Open. She’ll try to break that skid against American lucky loser Nicole Gibbs who is coming back from a cancer scare. The Romanian is joined by other Slam winners Petra Kvitova, Garbine Muguruza, Jelena Ostapenko, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Caroline Wozniacki and 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens. Plus Indian Wells and Cincinnati winner Bianca Andreescu. It’s by far the toughest quarter.
Former finalists Madison Keys and Karolina Pliskova are the favorites in the third quarter. Keys, who just won her biggest career title in Cincinnati, could face Sofia Kenin the Elina Svitolina before her Pliskova quarterfinal collision. The Czech has little in the way of opposition with Carolina Garcia projected as her third round seed then Johanna Konta in the 16s. Venus Williams lurks as a second round opponent for Svitolina who opens against American teen Whitney Osuigwe.
Serena is in charge of the last quarter but Ash Barty’s been the better player this year. The Australian could get a rematch with Maria Sakkari – they just met – then former champion Angelique Kerber before possibly Serena. If her back is ok, The 6-time champ Serena could have tricky Su-Wei Hsieh, then the former semifinalist Anastasija Sevastova in a rematch of the their semi from a year ago.
Projected Round of 16 Matches
Also at stake in the No. 1 ranking. Since Osaka is defending title points, she will have to win it again just to have a chance. Barty will be No. 1 until either Halep wins the title or Pliskova makes the quarterfinals.
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