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.

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    Novak Djokovic hopes to play at the Davis Cup Finals despite admitting he felt a "pretty sharp" pain in his elbow against Roger Federer on Thursday.

    Djokovic failed to reach the last four at the ATP Finals after suffering a 6-4 6-3 defeat to Federer in London.

    The Serbian 16-time grand slam champion was again troubled by his elbow, a worry ahead of the Davis Cup Finals beginning in Madrid on Monday.

    "I hope it's nothing that will really unable me to play Madrid. The pain was pretty sharp, but I could play the rest of the match," Djokovic told a news conference.

    "If I had something really serious I think I wouldn't be able to hold the racquet so it wasn't, it was probably just an awkward, quick movement that I did, but it did not impose any form of issues later on."

    Djokovic suffered his first loss to Federer since 2015, the result handing Rafael Nadal the year-end number one ranking.

    The 32-year-old said he was well below his best, while praising Federer's performance.

    "There was not much that I did right this match to be honest, realistically he was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win," Djokovic said.

    "He served great, moved well and returned my serve very well so from his end I think he did everything right, from my end I was just playing too neutral.

    "I couldn't read his serve well and just a pretty bad match from my side."

    Despite not living up to his usual standards to finish the year, Djokovic was happy with his 2019 after successes at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

    "I'm not happy with the way I finished the season. Obviously this is not the way I want to play on the court first of all but you've got to accept that you have these kinds of days and move on," he said.

    "If I have to draw the line, I think it was still a very good season winning two slams and five titles.

    "Of course I'm still hot-headed off the court but all in all it was a good season."

    Serbia are in Group A at the Davis Cup Finals, alongside France and Japan.

  • Nadal matches Federer, Djokovic with fifth year-end number one ranking Nadal matches Federer, Djokovic with fifth year-end number one ranking

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    Federer was too good for Djokovic 6-4 6-3 at the ATP Finals on Thursday, reaching the semi-finals at the expense of the 16-time grand slam champion.

    The result confirmed Nadal will finish the year at the top of the rankings for the fifth time.

    The Spanish star joined Federer, Djokovic and Jimmy Connors on that tally, trailing only Pete Sampras (six).

    It also marked the 16th straight year in which one of the 'Big Four' – Federer (2004-07 and 2009), Nadal (2008, 2010, 2013, 2017 and 2019), Djokovic (2011-12, 2014-15 and 2018) and Andy Murray (2016) – has finished as world number one.

    At 33, Nadal is the oldest year-end number one in ATP rankings history. Djokovic, 31 last year, held that mark previously.

    Federer (20) still leads his rivals for most grand slams, although Nadal (19) and Djokovic (16) closed the gap this year.

  • Federer revels in 'magical' victory over Djokovic after Wimbledon heartbreak Federer revels in 'magical' victory over Djokovic after Wimbledon heartbreak

    Roger Federer described his ATP Finals victory over Novak Djokovic as "magical", having come up short when they last met in an epic Wimbledon final.

    Swiss icon Federer earned a brilliant 6-4 6-3 victory at the O2 Arena in London on Thursday to join Dominic Thiem in advancing to the semi-finals at the Serbian's expense.

    It was the 19-time grand slam champion's first win against Djokovic – whose defeat meant Rafael Nadal will end 2019 as the world number one – since 2015, with the 32-year-old having been triumphant in each of their previous five encounters.

    The most recent of those saw Djokovic stave off a championship point before clinching the Wimbledon title following a tie-break at 12-12 in the fifth set.

    Asked what he did differently on Thursday, Federer replied: "I won match point, I guess! It was so close at Wimbledon. It was a privilege to play that match, so many ups and downs.

    "I thought I played an incredible tournament … and it's just a point or a shot here and there that made the difference and he got it.

    "You move on, try harder next time and hopefully luck goes on your side. I stayed calm, I played great until the very end and I couldn't be more happy right now.

    "[It was a] great atmosphere, great opponent. It was definitely incredibly special. I enjoyed it from the beginning.

    "I played incredible and I knew I had to because that's what Novak does. I was able to produce. It was definitely magical. You guys [the fans] made it super special, I can't thank you enough."

    Federer bounced back from losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem by beating Matteo Berrettini in straight sets and the 38-year-old stepped up his game again to overcome Djokovic.

    "You always play better as the tournament goes on, that's why I think we played as well as we did at Wimbledon as well," said Federer, who suffered a semi-final defeat to Alexander Zverev in last year's ATP Finals.

    "Dominic Thiem has been supreme in our group, made life difficult for both of us and put us in the situation that only the winner goes through.

    "There was a lot riding on the match and I came out and I think I served great, had great anticipation, a clear game-plan and it worked great – hopefully not for the last time against Novak.

    "I'm happy to stick around. Hopefully I'll go a step further than last year, I played a good match against Zverev last year but he was unreal."

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