Serena to face Sharapova in New York opener, Federer and Djokovic on a collision course

By Sports Desk August 22, 2019

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova face a mouthwatering first-round tie at the US Open, while Novak Djokovic is on the same side of the men's draw as Roger Federer.

Williams will be a heavy favourite given her 19-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova, though it will be the first time the rivals have gone up against each other in New York.

The pair last met on court in the 2016 Australian Open quarter-finals, where Williams was victorious, with a last-16 tie at the 2018 French Open a non-starter due to the American suffering a pectoral injury.

Sharapova has not defeated her illustrious foe in a match since 2004 and faces a monumental challenge against Williams, who was beaten in the final 12 months ago by Naomi Osaka.

Top seed Osaka's bid to defend her title at Flushing Meadows begins against Anna Blinkova, while Kiki Bertens is a potential quarter-final opponent.

Second seed Ashleigh Barty, who made a major breakthrough at Roland Garros, opens up against Zarina Diyas and faces a potential last-eight meeting with Williams.

Karolina Pliskova (3) and Simona Halep (4) each face qualifiers in round one, the latter on a potential last-eight collision course with Petra Kvitova (6). 

Defending men's champion Djokovic, aiming to win a third slam of 2019, faces the unheralded Roberto Carballes Baena first but could be set for a daunting run at Flushing Meadows.

Fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, a man in form having reached the finals in Washington and Montreal while also winning the title in Cincinnati, is Djokovic's projected quarter-final opponent, while Federer may stand in the way in the semis.

Five-time champion Federer faces a qualifier first up, while on the other side of the draw Rafael Nadal has a tricky first-round tie with John Millman – who upset Federer in round four a year ago.

Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev could all prove potential road blocks for Nadal in the latter stages.

Related items

  • Nadal misses Laver Cup doubles with Federer due to 'inflamed hand' Nadal misses Laver Cup doubles with Federer due to 'inflamed hand'

    Rafael Nadal was forced to pull out of his singles and doubles matches on day three of the Laver Cup with an "inflamed hand".

    The French Open and US Open champion had been set to feature in a high-profile doubles pairing with Roger Federer against John Isner and Jack Sock in the opening match of Sunday's play.

    Nadal was also set to take on Nick Kyrgios in singles later in the day, having been beaten by the Australian in a doubles contest late on Saturday.

    But that match the previous day, in which Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas lost to Kyrgios and Sock, meant the Spaniard was not able to recover in time.

    He complained of inflammation to his left hand on Sunday morning - an issue he says he has dealt with for "a couple of years" - and Tsitsipas was called in to take his place alongside Federer.

    Thiem will play Kyrgios, meanwhile, with Team Europe aiming to wrap up a third straight title, carrying a narrow 7-5 lead into the final day.

    Nadal said: "I am sad, of course. I was excited to play the doubles with Roger obviously - that's the thing that makes me more sad because, in singles, I know Dominic is going to be there and he's going to do unbelievably.

    "Since a couple of years ago, I've had this bad feeling on the hand. It's an inflamation of the hand - not the wrist.

    "Yesterday, I played and sometimes the next day you are a little bit better, sometimes you are a little bit worse. Today, I think it's a little bit more inflamed.

    "This morning, I woke up with that feeling that something is inflamed on the hand and I texted Roger and Thomas [Enqvist, vice-captain] and Bjorn [Borg, captain].

    "We needed to find a solution because I don't think I'm the right one to play today and we have a great team without me being 100 per cent. All the guys are unbelievable."

    He added: "Now, let's support and hopefully we can achieve this."

  • Osaka hails 'special' hometown victory after cruising to Pan Pacific Open title Osaka hails 'special' hometown victory after cruising to Pan Pacific Open title

    Naomi Osaka cruised past Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2 6-3 to claim her maiden Pan Pacific Open title, a homecoming victory she hailed as "special".

    World number four Osaka had previously finished as runner up in the tournament in 2016 and 2018, when the WTA event was held in Tokyo.

    However, a switch to the 21-year-old's birthplace Osaka did the trick, with the top seed bouncing back from the disappointment of her round of 16 exit in the US Open in style.

    Having not won a trophy since securing her second successive grand slam title at the Australian Open in January, Osaka powered past the world number 41 in straight sets on Sunday.

    "It's really special for me to win here," Osaka, who won 100 per cent of her first service points, said.

    "This is the city where I was born and honestly I think that gave me a lot of power to play constantly match after match. I just want to say thank you to everyone.

    "I just love playing here, so I'll be here next year, though it's probably going to be in Tokyo."

    Osaka made her intentions of sealing a swift victory clear from the off, racing into a 2-0 lead as Pavlyuchenkova failed to cope with the former world number one's powerful serves.

    A superb lob ended a frenetic rally to make it 5-2 - a Pavlyuchenkova error then handing Osaka the set in the next game.

    Another early break followed for Osaka in set two and, despite Pavlyuchenkova saving three break points before holding off two match points, victory was ensured when the Russian clipped into the net.

    Osaka's triumph is her first on Japanese soil, while she became the first home player to win the Pan Pacific Open since Kimiko Date in 1995.

  • Kyrgios keeps Team World in contention at Laver Cup Kyrgios keeps Team World in contention at Laver Cup

    Nick Kyrgios bounced back from a tough defeat to Roger Federer to keep Team World in the mix for a breakthrough Laver Cup victory in a doubles success alongside Jack Sock.

    Europe, who have won the prior two editions of the competition, lead 7-5 heading into the final day, but they might have had one hand on the trophy already if not for Kyrgios.

    A home side able to name a line-up where each of their six players are ranked higher than John Isner, their opponents' top star, celebrated singles triumphs for Federer and Rafael Nadal but found Kyrgios in determined mood late on Saturday evening.

    Team World had struck first to level the contest at 3-3, with wins on the second day worth two points - double their first-day value, while third-day victories earn three.

    Isner saw opponent Alexander Zverev fall apart and clinched a 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 10-1 success.

    Pegged back, matters looked to be going from bad to worse for Europe when the dangerous Kyrgios took the first set against Federer.

    But the Swiss veteran recovered to triumph 6-7 (5-7) 7-5 10-7 and it appeared to be plain sailing from there, with Nadal winning the final singles contest of the day, easing past Milos Raonic 6-3 7-6 (7-1) to regain complete control of the competition.

    "Being here for me is a very positive energy," Nadal said. "I like being around such a great team and the crowd is amazing.

    "I feel very lucky [to win] the first set. I started to play better later in the match and I think I played a very good tie-break in the end."

    The Spaniard was back on court to close out Saturday's play, teaming up with Stefanos Tsitsipas, to take on Kyrgios and Sock.

    However, Kyrgios gave an early indication of what was to come as he started in impressive fashion again with some blistering winners in an opener Team World dominated, breaking swiftly and protecting the serve with ease.

    The Australian was guilty of gifting away the decisive first break in the second set, making a mess of a seemingly straightforward volley, before coming into his own again with the match level.

    Nadal was too often left to plough a lone furrow by Tsitsipas and Kyrgios excelled at the net, greeting each European error in typically extravagant fashion.

    Fittingly, after a one-sided tie-break, the match was clinched on Kyrgios' serve 6-4 3-6 10-6 to set up an intriguing final day.

© 2018 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.