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.

Iga Swiatek is still a standout candidate to win the US Open, even if the WTA field has plenty of strength in depth, so says Laura Robson.

The latest iteration of the season's final grand slam gets under way on August 29, with Emma Raducanu looking to mount a successful defence at Flushing Meadows.

But with six different winners in the last eight WTA majors, the race is wide open to take glory in New York, particularly after three-time major winner Ash Barty called time on her career following this year's Australian Open.

That leaves former British number one Robson feeling any title fight is too tough to call, though she believes the strength of the field makes it all the more thrilling and unpredictable.

"I think it just shows that there's a lot of depth on the WTA side," she told Stats Perform. "You've got 15 players in any given slam [who could win], which for me makes it more exciting.

"I'm pumped when I see the draw come out, because things can open up so quickly. Had Ash Barty not retired earlier this year, then she probably would have been the front runner going into the rest of the season.

"It really could be anyone. Ons Jabeur is playing great tennis, [Elena] Rybakina and then [Paula] Badosa, on hardcourts is playing great as well."

Robson acknowledged it is tough to look past world number one Swiatek, though. The Pole claimed her second French Open crown earlier this year and has won 50 matches in 2022.

"She just looked like she was on fire," Robson added, before suggesting Swiatek's defeat at Wimbledon to Alize Cornet came merely because "she just ran out of gas".

"I think she's going to transition a little slower on to the hard courts then at the US Open. They're not quite the same surface that works best for her game.

"But at the same time, you know, she's got so much confidence at the moment that you can't really bet against her."

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Victoria Azarenka will not play in the Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition at Flushing Meadows on Wednesday, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) has announced.

The former world number one was due to participate in the charity event set up in support of Ukraine ahead of next week's US Open.

The Belarusian's involvement in the exhibition came under scrutiny from Ukrainian player Marta Kostyuk, who subsequently declined the opportunity to compete alongside the likes of Rafael Nadal, Iga Swiatek and John McEnroe.

Azarenka had called for player unity following Russia's Belarus-assisted invasion of Ukraine earlier this year, with the two-time Australian Open winner saying Wimbledon's ban on Russian and Belarusian players made no sense.

Following the recent criticism led by Kostyuk, who was bemused by the presence of Azarenka, the USTA decided it would be in the best interest of the event if she was not involved.

In a statement, the governing body said: "In the last 24 hours, after careful consideration and dialogue with all parties involved, Victoria Azarenka will not be participating in our 'Tennis Plays for Peace Exhibition' this evening [Wednesday].

"Vika is a strong player leader and we appreciate her willingness to participate. Given the sensitivities to Ukrainian players, and the ongoing conflict, we believe this is the right course of action for us."

Madison Keys stunned top seed Iga Swiatek 6-3 6-4 to book her place in the quarter-finals of the Western & Southern Open on Thursday.

Keys arrived in the contest seeking a first career victory over a reigning world number one in six attempts, having failed to win a set in each of the previous five.

The 2019 champion had also lost her previous two showdowns with Swiatek, including a resounding 6-1 6-0 defeat in the Indian Wells Open quarter-finals earlier this year.

After the first games went with serve, Keys went into overdrive; reeling off nine successive games to take full command of the contest at 6-3 5-0.

Swiatek rallied as she rescued match point to avoid the bagel, winning 11 of 12 points to reduce the second-set deficit to 5-3.

The winner of six WTA titles this season, the Pole saved a further match point in the ninth game before claiming what appeared to be another crucial break of serve.

However, former US Open finalist Keys responded magnificently to make it third time lucky against Swiatek, who is now 4-4 since her 37-match winning streak ended with defeat by Alize Cornet at Wimbledon.

Coco Gauff will reach the highest ranking of her career after the 18-year-old defeated world number six Aryna Sabalenka 7-5 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in the third round of the Canadian Open on Thursday.

Gauff, who has never been ranked higher than her current spot of 11th, will overtake Emma Raducanu and likely Daria Kasatkina to move up to ninth when the next rankings are released after prevailing in an exceptionally tight match against her Belarussian opponent. 

Incredibly, both Gauff and Sabalenka won exactly 131 points each, posting identical success rates on service points (77-of-131) and return points (54-of-131).

Gauff will be considered one of the favourites in the tournament after world number one Iga Swiatek was sensationally eliminated by Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia. Swiatek was sloppy, committing nine double faults to just one from her opponent.

Two-time grand slam winner Simona Halep defeated rising Swiss talent Jil Teichmann 6-2 7-5, utilising her dominant first serve to get the job done. Halep converted 82 per cent (32-of-39) of her accurate first serves into points, compared to just 59 per cent (29-of-49) for Teichmann.

World number seven Jessica Pegula had to save a match point on her way to a comeback 3-6 6-0 7-5 win against reigning Canadian Open champion Camila Giorgi, booking her quarter-final clash against Yulia Putintseva after the Kazakhstani beat Alison Riske 6-3 7-5.

Third seed Maria Sakkari went down 1-6 7-6 (11-9) 3-6 against 14th seed Karolina Pliskova, and the Czech will take on China's Qinweng Zheng after she eliminated Canada's last remaining contender Bianca Andreescu 7-5 5-7 6-2.

In the final match of the night, Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic was incredibly impressive against world number eight Garbine Muguruza, prevailing 6-1 6-3.

Serena Williams' decision to begin winding down her tennis career has saddened world number one Iga Swiatek and Belinda Bencic, who defeated the 40-year-old on Wednesday.

Williams announced on Tuesday that she is about to retire, saying "the countdown has begun" as she looks to "move in a different direction".

While the 23-time singles grand slam champion did not put a specific timeline on her remaining days in tennis, her comment about looking for new challenges after "these next few weeks" suggests the US Open – which she has already been included on the entry list for and starts at the end of August – will be her swansong.

That announcement came on the back of Williams' first singles win in 430 days, a defeat of Nuria Parrizas-Diaz at the Canadian Open in Toronto, but she was subsequently eliminated by Bencic on Wednesday, when the reality of her farewell tour set in.

Williams failed to hold back the tears as she said goodbye to the Toronto crowd for the last time as a player, and Bencic herself could not help feeling a little overcome

She said: "It was definitely very special. I think it was more than just the usual tennis match, also just really exciting, and also a little bit overwhelming for me, of course.

"[It's] great, I can be part of her career and her story and this was just really nice and I'm just really appreciative and honoured to play her so many times, and also here in Toronto.

 

"I mean, she's really the greatest of all time, so it's really exciting. I could have been on the court against her so many times and even today I really enjoyed it a lot. It was sometimes like a pinch me moment again."

Williams finished five different calendar years as the highest-ranked player in the world, a record only Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova can better.

Swiatek, the current world number one, looks to be the best-placed of the next generation to challenge that achievement, though she recognises a degree of fortune in not having to face Williams at the peak of her powers.

"Well it's always pretty sad when you see such a career coming to an end, but on the other hand she's a legend and I feel like she's done so much," Swiatek added.

"It's really amazing. I'm pretty sad that I wasn't able to play against her and experience that her being the strongest one on tour, but on the other hand, I would be losing against her if I played [her at] that time, so that's fine!

"But she's a legend and everything that she has done on court and off court, she's basically a superstar and the way she handled playing tennis and business and also being a mother, it's mind-blowing. So I'm pretty sure that she's going to have a great second part of her career."

The Serena Williams' farewell tour in Toronto is over after she was knocked out of the Canadian Open 6-2 6-4 by 12th seed Belinda Bencic on Wednesday.

Williams, playing for the first time since declaring on Tuesday her intention to retire after this month's US Open, was no match for Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Bencic.

The 23-time major winner was unable to claim back-to-back WTA singles wins for the first time since last year's French Open, having defeated Nuria Parrizas-Diaz for her first victory in 430 days on Monday.

Bencic triumphed in one hour and 17 minutes, winning 84.2 per cent of first-serve points and converted five of eight break points throughout the match.

Williams' power was on show with 13 winners, but Bencic was physically more capable and decisively managed 25 winners with only 13 unforced errors.

Elsewhere, 2019 US Open winner and local hope Bianca Andreescu edged Alize Cornet in a see-sawing clash in the evening, winning 6-3 4-6 6-3 in two hours and 26 minutes.

Fourth seed Paula Badosa and fifth seed Ons Jabeur, who was last month's Wimbledon runner-up, were forced to retire due to injury.

Spanish 24-year-old Badosa withdrew against Yulia Putintseva 7-5 1-0 due to muscle cramping, while Zheng Qinwen had a walkover against Jabeur 6-1 2-1 due to abdominal pain.

Top seed Iga Swiatek brushed aside Ajla Tomljanovic 6-1 6-2 in 64 minutes. The win means Swiatek is the first player to win 15 WTA 1000 matches in straight sets in a row since 2009.

Canadian 13th seed Leylah Fernandez also bowed out, going down 7-6 (7-4) 6-1 to Brazil's Beatriz Haddad Maia, who will face Swiatek in the third round.

Second seed Anett Kontaveit lost 6-4 6-4 to Jil Teichmann in one hour and 27 minutes. Teichmann will next face Simona Halep who won in 71 minutes against Zhang Shuai 6-4 6-2.

Sixth seed Aryna Sabalenka got past Sara Sorribes Tormo 6-4 6-3 to set up a third-round meeting with Coco Gauff after she defeated Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina 6-4 6-7 (8-10) 7-6 (7-3) in an epic that lasted two hours and 49 minutes.

Jessica Pegula won 6-2 7-5 over American qualifier Asia Muhammad to progress through to face Camila Giorgi after she knocked off Elise Mertens 7-3 7-5.

Third seed Maria Sakkari triumphed in three sets 6-2 4-6 6-2 over Sloane Stephens and will face Karolina Pliskova next after the Czech beat Amanda Anisimova 6-1 6-1.

Eighth seed Garbine Muguruza won 6-4 6-4 against Kaia Kanepi and Alison Riske toppled 16th seed Jelena Ostapenko 7-6 (7-2) 0-6 7-5.

Iga Swiatek's lengthy unbeaten run on clay was brought to a surprise end by Caroline Garcia at the Poland Open on Friday. 

The world number one succumbed to a 6-1 1-6 6-4 defeat to the fifth seed, who ended the French Open champion's 18-match winning streak on the dirt. 

It was Garcia's first win over a top-ranked player and sent her into a semi-final against Jasmine Paolini after the Italian came from behind to beat Viktorija Golubic 1-6 6-2 6-2. 

Swiatek said: "Maybe I wasn't as disciplined as in previous tournaments, but I'm happy. I felt like my brain didn't intuitively predict where the ball would go, but I'm still learning, right? 

"The first two sets depended on her – whether or not she would be in control. At the end of the second she lost control and took advantage. 

"In the third set, she got back to her game. But if I had a better first serve percentage, maybe it would have been different. 

"I don't know what decision I will make next year. Maybe longer preparation [on clay] will be necessarily, or maybe I'll give up this tournament. We'll see." 

Kateryna Baindl became the first lucky loser to reach a WTA Tour semi-final this year by overcoming Petra Martic 1-6 6-3 6-4. Next up for Baindl is Ana Bogdan, who beat Laura Pigossi 6-1 6-1.  

World number two Anett Kontaveit was also on the receiving end of an upset, going down 6-1 6-1 to Anastasia Potapova in 49 minutes at the Prague Open. 

Potapova will take on qualifier Wang Qiang for a place in the final, with Czech pair Marie Bouzkova and Linda Noskova – only the second female player born after 2004 to reach the last four of a WTA Tour tournament – in action on the other side of the draw. 

In the midst of a brilliant season, world number one Iga Swiatek had another milestone to celebrate on Thursday when she beat Gabriela Lee at the Poland Open.

Swiatek's 6-3 6-2 win against her Romanian opponent was her 48th of the season, already equalling the best tally reached by a female player in the entirety of 2021.

The top seed will have a chance to go one better than Anett Kontaveit and Ons Jabeur from last season when she faces Caroline Garcia in the quarter-finals of her home tournament.

Garcia beat Elisabetta Cocciaretto 6-3 7-5, while Jasmine Paolini dug deep to see off Clara Burel 6-1 6-7 (1-7) 6-0.

There was a big upset at the Prague Open, as defending champion Barbora Krejcikova was eliminated in a 3-6 7-5 (7-5) 6-3 defeat at the hands of Nao Hibino.

Fellow Czech Lucie Havlickova was dispatched in straight sets by top seed Kontaveit, but Linda Noskova will keep the home flag flying after beating Alize Cornet.

Noskova's first career tour-level quarter-final will come against Krejcikova's conqueror Hibino.

Top seed Iga Swiatek brushed aside compatriot Magdalena Frech to advance to the last 16 at the Poland Open on Tuesday.

The Warsaw native took 73 minutes to secure a safe passage to the next round with a 6-1 6-2 victory, setting up a clash with Romanian Gabriela Lee – who defeated Raluka Serban on Tuesday.

Swiatek won 76.2 per cent of total service points and won 61.8 per cent of the overall points in the match, with Frech on the back foot throughout, extending her winning streak on clay to 17 matches.

It was Swiatek's first time on the court since defeat at Wimbledon to Alize Cornet, which brought an end to a remarkable 37-match unbeaten run.

Elsewhere, eighth seed Petra Martic overcame Weronika Falkowska 7-5 6-4, while there were also victories for Laura Pigossi, Elisabetta Cocciaretto, Sara Errani and Ana Bogdan.

In the Prague Open, Wimbledon quarter-finalist Marie Bouzkova advanced after a dominant 6-1 6-2 victory against Czech teenager Dominika Salkova - setting up a clash against another teenager, 19-year-old Russian Oksana Selekhmeteva.

There were also victories for Chloe Paquet, Wang Qiang and Magda Linette on day five of the tournament.

 

 

Ukraine great Andriy Shevchenko has thanked the Polish people for their support during the war against Russia, hailing sports stars Iga Swiatek and Robert Lewandowski for their efforts.

An ambassador for Laureus Sport for Good, Shevchenko surprised children who had fled the war with a visit to a school in Warsaw.

The world has rallied around Ukraine following Russia's invasion, with sporting stars and celebrities using their platform to raise awareness of the situation in the country.

On Saturday, WTA world number one Swiatek organised a charity tennis match, where Shevchenko was a special guest, while Lewandowski has been vocal in his support – and will wear a Barcelona shirt featuring the UNHCR logo, the United Nations' main agency for refugees, this season.

Following his appearance in Warsaw, Shevchenko thanked Poland as a nation for taking in a flood of refugees from their European neighbours.

"I want to thank you, [the] Polish people, for being very kind to my country. For hosting us here. For providing all the needs," he said, as per Laureus Sport for Good.

"Thank you so much for your support. Also, I want to thank Iga Swiatek and Robert Lewandowski for taking a big part in initiatives helping my country to raise the funds and support against the war in Ukraine."

Shevchenko also praised compatriot Oleksandr Zinchenko for speaking out against the war, something numerous Ukrainian athletes have done.

"Like many, everyone Ukrainian, his reaction against the war, he stood up and then he spoke loud," he added of Zinchenko, who last week signed for Arsenal from Premier League champions Manchester City.

"He expressed his view, he's expressed his very hard feelings against the war for Ukraine, because he loves Ukraine, he loves people. 

"And we did a lot of activities together, we've been involved in a few fundraisers. I know he's a very generous person and he did a lot for Ukrainian people."

Alize Cornet compared herself to a fine French wine as she left Iga Swiatek's Wimbledon dream in tatters.

Frenchwoman Cornet, who eight years ago produced a Wimbledon sensation when beating Serena Williams, delivered another show-stopping result when she won 6-4 6-2 against top seed and world number one Swiatek.

It happened on the tournament's middle Saturday and on Court One, just as the victory over Williams in 2014 had.

Swiatek had reeled off 37 successive wins, landing six titles in the process, including a second French Open crown. However, she has appeared far from comfortable on the grass in London, and it was clear she would be ripe for such an upset if her performance level from the first two rounds did not improve.

Cornet, who at the age of 32 is competing in a record-tying 62nd consecutive grand slam tournament, will face Australia's Ajla Tomljanovic on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals.

In an on-court interview, Cornet said of her win: "It reminds me of the time I beat Serena on the same court eight years ago. I think this court is a lucky charm for me.

"I want to say I'm a huge fan of Iga. She is just so talented, and she's such an amazing player and such a nice ambassador of women's tennis, so I'm very flattered that I beat her today.

"I think this kind of match is what I'm living for and practising for every day. It really drives me, and I knew I could do it. Somehow I had this belief, even through she had 37 wins in a row.

"It was like, if there is a moment you can beat her it's now, on grass. She feels a little less comfortable than on other surfaces, so I was just believing very hard, very focused, and I have the best team by my side and the best crowd also.

"So I guess I like the upsets. It's a really nice feeling right now.

"I'm like a good wine. In France, a good wine always ages well. It's unreal, I'm playing one of the best seasons of my career. I feel great on the court. I'm having so much fun. Eight years later after my first qualification into the second week I can see I'm still there, I'm still so motivated, and I still have the fire in me."

Swiatek slumped from a 2-0 lead in the second set, dropping six successive games as the match slipped away.

The beaten Pole said: "I know I didn't play good tennis. I was pretty confused about my tactics. When I was practising I didn’t feel in the best shape. So I was aware this could happen.

"Usually when I'm coming back, I have some kind of a plan and I know what to change.

"Here I didn't know what to change. I was confused. On a grass court everything happens so quickly. I didn't tank it, but I just didn't know what to do."

Iga Swiatek's 37-match winning streak came to an end on Wimbledon's Court One as wily Frenchwoman Alize Cornet pulled off a sensational third-round victory.

Top seed and world number one Swiatek had not lost since February, when she was beaten by Jelena Ostapenko in Dubai, reeling off six successive tournament wins, including her second French Open title. It was the longest winning streak in women's singles in the 21st century, and now it is over.

The 21-year-old Polish player had not looked comfortable on grass in her opening two rounds at Wimbledon, and she was outsmarted on Saturday by the experienced Cornet, losing 6-4 6-2 in an hour and 32 minutes.

At the age of 32, Cornet is playing a record-tying 62nd consecutive grand slam, matching Ai Sugiyama's record. She is also enjoying her best year at the majors, reaching a slam quarter-final for the first time in Australia before getting to the third round at Roland Garros.

Crucially, Cornet already had a famous Wimbledon scalp behind her coming into this match. Eight years ago, on the equivalent first Saturday of the championships and on the same court, Cornet defeated Serena Williams.

On this occasion, Cornet swept to a swift double break against the former Wimbledon girls' champion, opening a 3-0 lead. Swiatek got back into the opening set by recovering one break, but she could not draw level.

Swiatek then had a chance to break in the second game of the second set, and a 2-0 lead was hers when Cornet went long with a forehand. Yet the lead was immediately squandered, a dazzling stop volley from Cornet saving game point before a looping backhand winner brought the set back onto serve.

From there, Cornet pulled away, Swiatek's belief fading as the match raced away from her. At her 15th Wimbledon, Cornet was able to celebrate another show-stopping moment.

Data slam: Alize in wonderland

This was a 24th career win for Cornet against a player ranked inside the top 10, and a fourth against a world number one – the previous three all came against Serena Williams, all in 2014 (including one by retirement). The world number 37, who reached a career-high ranking of 11th in 2009, was facing Swiatek for the first time and now goes on to tackle Ajla Tomljanovic for a place in the last eight.

WINNERS/UNFORCED ERRORS
Cornet – 16/7
Swiatek – 21/33

ACES/DOUBLE FAULTS
Cornet – 1/2
Swiatek – 3/1

BREAK POINTS WON
Cornet – 5/6
Swiatek – 2/6

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