US Open 2019: Serena v Sharapova, Nadal v Millman and the best first-round ties

By Sports Desk August 22, 2019

Flushing Meadows was abuzz with excitement at the news Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will meet in round one of the US Open.

Thursday's draw threw up an absolute humdinger of a tie between two of the greatest and most recognisable tennis stars of all time.

But there are plenty of other eye-catching matches in the first round of the final grand slam of 2019.

Below we have picked out six of the best to watch in New York.


SERENA WILLIAMS V MARIA SHARAPOVA

Undoubtedly the stand-out tie in the entire draw. There is little love lost between the two long-term foes, but the rivalry has been extremely one-sided. Sharapova's last prevailed against Williams way back in 2004 and, while the two have never faced off at the US Open, the Russian will need to roll back the years to end the drought.

ARYNA SABALENKA v VICTORIA AZARENKA

Sabalenka can be forgiven for cursing her luck at landing a daunting first-round tie with Belarus compatriot Azarenka, who she has never met in a competitive match. In a year that has seen her reach a career-high ranking of nine, a position she currently holds, a meeting with the former world number one straight out of the gate is not what she would have wanted as she aims to go beyond round four of a slam for the first time.

ALISON RISKE v GARBINE MUGURUZA

Two-time slam winner Muguruza faces a Riske-y tie in the opening round. The 29-year-old Riske has been consistently in the top 50 over the past six years and won the pair's past meeting in Tokyo in 2018.

RAFAEL NADAL v JOHN MILLMAN

On the face of it, this looks a complete mismatch, particularly as Nadal won their only competitive meeting at Wimbledon in 2017. But Australian Millman caused a mammoth upset at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago when he defeated Roger Federer to make the quarter-finals – his best result at a grand slam. He will be hoping for a repeat against three-time victor Nadal.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV v FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME

In a nice coincidence, two of Canada's finest young stars meet in a repeat of a 2018 first-round tie. On that occasion, Shapovalov consoled his good friend with a big hug after Auger-Aliassime was forced to retire in the third set with the opening two having been shared. Both men have been tipped for big futures and this one could be a cracker.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS v ANDREY RUBLEV

Tsitsipas' season has stalled after a brilliant start to 2019 that saw him reach the Australian Open semi-finals, where Nadal proved too big of a hurdle to overcome. A first-round defeat at Wimbledon was the precursor to a difficult hard-court warm-up for the Big Apple, which saw early exits in Montreal and Cincinnati – albeit he did reach the last four in Washington. Rublev was a quarter-finalist in Cincinnati, losing only to in-form Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev, and as a fellow star of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals he will fancy his chances of an upset.

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    Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil sent Australia packing as Alex de Minaur's singles victory proved fruitless in the first Davis Cup quarter-final.

    With Pospisil defeating John Millman 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 in the opening match, Australia relied on a comeback from De Minaur to haul themselves level.

    Next Gen ATP Finals runner up De Minaur – Australia's star player in Thursday's tie with Nick Kyrgios sitting out – did it the hard way, coming from a set down to beat Shapovalov 3-6 6-3 7-5 and tee up a deciding doubles encounter.

    But Canada were too good in the doubles – Pospisil picking up where he left off while Shapovalov bounced back from his loss in style via a 6-4 6-4 win.

    A break of serve in the opening game against Australian counterparts Jordan Thompson and John Peers paved the way for the pair to claim the first set with ease.

    Thompson and Peers looked set to take the match all the way when they earned a 3-0 lead in set two, only for Shapovalov and Pospisil to restore parity before pushing on to seal progression with their first match point.

    Serbia play Russia, Argentina face Spain and Great Britain go up against Germany in the other quarter-final ties, which will be played on Friday.

  • Bautista Agut withdraws from Spain's Davis Cup team after the death of his father Bautista Agut withdraws from Spain's Davis Cup team after the death of his father

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    Bautista Agut had played two singles matches for Spain at this week's tournament in Madrid, losing to Andrey Rublev on Tuesday before defeating Croatia's Nikola Mektic on Wednesday.

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    "We want to accompany Roberto in these hard times. He is an exceptional tennis player who symbolises the highest values ​​of tennis and sports," Royal Spanish Tennis Federation​ (RFET) president Miguel Diaz said in a statement.

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    Five-time Davis Cup champions Spain face Argentina in the quarter-finals on Friday.

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    "Andy is a team player and understands what is best for the team," Smith told reporters in Madrid.

    "There is no awkwardness about who is going to play, who isn't going to play. It is a good, open and honest discussion. That's what we will do again.

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