With the farewell of Serena William, the women’s draw takes center stage this year at the US Open. The living legend will play her final event in New York starting Monday, and today we learned of her first round opponent.
Serena drew Danka Kovinic of Montenegro. The 27-year-old Kovinic has last her last five matches since a first round French Open win, and ranked No. 80 she could be a perfect opponent for the six-time champion.
If Serena wins, she could run into No. 2 seed Anett Konateveit in the second round, then potentially French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan in the third.
Serena, who turns 41 next month, went just 1-3 this summer in her return with her lone victory in three sets over a lucky loser in Toronto.
While Serena doesn’t figure to be around late in the event, top seed and tournament favorite Iga Swiatek does. The world No. 1 could meet former US Open winner Sloane Stephens in the second round, and later Jessica Pegula in the quarterfinals. Swiatek had a 37-match win streak earlier in the year, but has since gone just 4-4 on tour.
Emma Raducanu’s title defense puts her front and center against the very dangerous Alize Cornet in the opener. Raducanu could face Danielle Collins or Naomi Osaka in the third round.
Osaka, a 2-time US Open winner, opens play against Australian finalist Collins in on of the better matches of the women’s first round. Aryna Sabalenka, a semifinalist from last year, and Paula Badosa are also in that quarter. Former finalists Victoria Azarenka and Karolina Pliskova are also in that tough second quarter along gold medalist Belinda Bencic, Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina and Venus Williams.
Summer champions Simona Halep and Caroline Garcia are housed in the third quarter. They are joined by 2021 semifinalist Maria Sakkari, Toronto finalist Beatriz Haddad Maia, Coco Gauff and former finalist Madison Keys. Sakkari opens against Wimbledon semifinalist Tatjana Maria while Halep and Gauff face qualifiers.
The final quarter is where Serena and Kontaveit could collide. But Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur and 2021 runner-up Leylah Fernandez could be better picks. Shelby Rogers and Daria Kasatkina could spoil things, as well.
Play begins on Monday with the schedule likely released on Friday. Serena’s bottom half will play on Monday.
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