US Open: Serena Williams learns Flushing Meadows fate as retiring star enters final draw

By Sports Desk August 25, 2022

Serena Williams will face Danka Kovinic in the first round as the American great begins her final US Open campaign.

It will be a final grand slam for 40-year-old Williams, who has won six singles titles in New York and been a runner-up on four occasions.

Her first singles crown in a major came as a 17-year-old at Flushing Meadows, when she beat Martina Hingis in the 1999 final.

Now the end of a glorious career is beckoning for the 23-time singles major winner, who has also landed 16 doubles grand slam titles.

Kovinic is the world number 80 from Montenegro, with the 27-year-old having only won two matches at the US Open in four previous main-draw appearances.

The winner of that match will likely face Estonian second seed Anett Kontaveit in round two. Kontaveit's first-round opponent will be Romanian Jaqueline Adina Cristian.

Defending champion Emma Raducanu, who was a shock winner last year, faces a tricky first-round assignment against France's Alize Cornet.

Cornet is the tour veteran who beat Iga Swiatek at Wimbledon, ending the Pole's 37-match winning streak, and this will be her 64th consecutive grand slam appearance, a record for WTA Tour players.

World number one Swiatek starts against Italian Jasmine Paolini and could face 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in round two.

Former champion Naomi Osaka, unseeded this year, was paired with Danielle Collins, the 19th seed who was an Australian Open runner-up at the start of the year.

The tournament gets under way on Monday.

Men's defending champion Daniil Medvedev faces American Stefan Kozlov in his opener, while Rafael Nadal, who has not lost a grand slam match all year, faces Australian wild card Rinky Hijikata.

Nadal won the Australian Open and French Open titles before pulling out of Wimbledon ahead of his semi-final against Australian Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal tear.

That handed Kyrgios a bye through to face Novak Djokovic, who got the better of the Australian, but the Serbian must miss the US Open because his refusal to be vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus meant he would not be allowed to enter the United States.

Djokovic's absence was confirmed shortly before the draw was revealed.

Fast-rising Spanish teenager Carlos Alcaraz begins against Argentina's Sebastian Baez, while fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas will face a yet-to-be-determined qualifier.

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    Cameron Norrie sealed a semi-final spot at the Rio Open, continuing his title defence by seeing off Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild in front of his own fans.

    The British number one secured a 6-1 3-6 6-2 victory to head into the last four.

    Norrie lost just two games in a handsome win over Tomas Barrios Vera in the previous round and picked up exactly where he left off on the clay.

    He raced out of the traps, breaking Seyboth Wild’s second and third service games and holding his own to take the first set in little more than half-an-hour.

    The stands filled up considerably after a quiet start and Seyboth Wild fed off the growing support as he put together a much-improved showing to level the scores.

    With his opponent starting to grow in confidence and the noise levels rising, Norrie allowed errors to creep in with cracks in his first serve and a misjudged long forehand seeing him broken for the first time.

    Seyboth Wild was strong enough to make that breakthrough count and set up a deciding set but found Norrie back on his game as he tore into a 5-1 lead, breaking twice more along the way.

    Norrie missed his chance to finish things off at the first attempt, burning three match points as his South American opponent showed admirable resilience in a see-saw exchange of winners.

    But he soon stacked up three more match points against the serve and converted the second of them as Seyboth Wild’s unforced error ended his fight after just under two hours.

    “I was really proud of how hard I fought, it was so humid and tough physically,” he told Sky Sports.

    “It was a tough one and the atmosphere was great. These are exactly the kind of matches you want to play.”

  • Defending champion Cameron Norrie cruises into Rio Open quarter-finals Defending champion Cameron Norrie cruises into Rio Open quarter-finals

    Cameron Norrie remains on course to defend his Rio Open title after easing into the quarter-finals.

    The British number one won last year’s tournament in Brazil and his path to repeating his glory opened up earlier in the week when top seed Carlos Alcaraz withdrew because of injury.

    And he made light work of Chilean Tomas Barrios Vera on the clay, dropping just two games in a 6-1 6-1 victory.

    Barrios Vera, ranked 120 in the world, was no match for the Norrie, who overcame an early exchange of breaks to reel off four successive games and win the first set.

    Another run of four games on the spin was enough to get the job done with little fuss to set up a quarter-final meeting with Thiago Seyboth Wild.

    “I really played well and was accurate, I hit the lines and was able to control the games,” Norrie said on Sky Sports.

    “I enjoyed it, last night waiting around, it rained a lot and I had to come out and reset and I was able to do that so I was really pleased.

    “I am going to keep focusing on myself and my level and I want to make sure I take care of my matches like that.

    “It’s tough, it’s humid, there’s been a lot of rain and the clay is heavy. It’s not easy out here but I feel like I can play well when the matches go long.”

  • Krajicek hopes Alcaraz does not simply try to emulate Nadal Krajicek hopes Alcaraz does not simply try to emulate Nadal

    Richard Krajicek believes it will hurt Carlos Alcaraz's career if he compares himself too much to Rafael Nadal.

    Alcaraz is being hailed as Spanish tennis' next big hope with Nadal nearing the end of a hugely decorated career, one that has seen him win 22 grand slam titles, two behind Novak Djokovic at the top of the all-time list.

    Alcaraz himself has claimed two grand slams at the age of 20, winning the US Open in 2022 before following it up by claiming Wimbledon glory the following year.

    Despite the comparisons, Krajicek hopes Alcaraz doesn't think too much about comparing himself with his countryman Nadal.

    "If he starts to think about it or live up to it or try to beat it, then it will hinder his career, I think, a little bit," said Krajicek, speaking to Stats Perform at the Rotterdam Open. "But no, his name is Carlos Alcaraz. He said it himself. And he's not a new Nadal.

    "Nadal is a legend. And he's going to do what he has to do. And I think by winning two grand slams, being number one, I don't think he [Alcaraz] feels any pressure or like, I have to do this or this.

    "He's proved so much already. I don't think he has too much to prove. And he's just playing for the love of the game. He's going to win many more grand slams and be number one for many weeks also."

    Krajicek thinks Alcaraz's all-round game has the potential to take him to the top, if he hasn't reached it already.

    "I like everything about his game," Krajicek added. "I mean he's physically good, he's fast, I love his mentality on the court."

    "Also like Rafa, [he is] a very humble person and he can do it all. He can play serve and volley, he plays from the base, he's got a big forehand, he's got a very good touch on the drop shot, he can volley."

    Krajicek pointed to Alcaraz's affection for the sport of tennis as a particularly infectious part of his game.

    "He really loves the game," Krajicek continued. 

    "I think when he played the US Open, there was a huge point in the final and it was a really important point. And they were playing for number one in the world.

    "It was one set all, and Alcaraz loses the point, but the point was unbelievable. And Alcaraz smiles to his box like, 'Wow, I just played a great point, and I love this game'.

    "So for me, then I became a fan. I'm like, 'Wow, you really love this game'. That's so great to see."

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