US Open 2019 Draw: Serena Williams to meet Maria Sharapova in blockbuster first round; Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal can only meet in final

FP Sports

Serena Williams will get her quest for a seventh US Open title and record-tying 24th Grand Slam underway against Maria Sharapova in the US Open women's singles draw unveiled on Thursday. This will be the first time they will meet at Flushing Meadows having met in the other grand slams and the 2012 Olympics.

Williams has dominated the Russian in their head-to-head rivalry, winning 19 times with only two defeats, including their past 18 meetings, most recently at the 2016 Australian Open quarter-finals.

Serena was placed into the same quarter as Australian second seed Ashleigh Barty, the reigning French Open champion whose first match is against 77th-ranked Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.

Despite the lopsided record, Sharapova could well 'upset' Serena and her long running quest to reach 24 grand slams to equal Margaret Court's tally.

Two other interesting first round matches in the women's draw feature all-Belarussian clash between Aryna Sabalenka and Victoria Azarenka and Angelique Kerber taking on Frenchwoman Kristina Mladenovic.

Defending champion and World No.1 Naomi Osaka gets her campaign underway against Anna Blinkova. The same section also features teenager Coco Gauff which had caught the fans' attention during Wimbledon.

At the draw ceremony Osaka said on her knee injury, "It's getting better. I would say I'm a fast healer so I'm banking on that. I'm here and I feel as healthy as I can be." The Japanese player had picked up the injury in Cincinnati.

Romania's fourth-seeded Simona Halep, coming off her second Grand Slam title, opens against a qualifier and could face a semi-final against Osaka, who defends a Slam crown for the first time.

In the men's draw, No. 3 seed Roger Federer was slated into the top half, meaning he could play top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. They had played an epic in the final at Wimbledon, where Djokovic won in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

Federer and No. 2 seed Rafael Nadal have never played each other in New York and could do so this year only if both make the final.

Djokovic, the defending champion, starts against Carballes Baena while Nadal gets his tournament going against John Millman. The Australian had beaten Federer last year in New York.

Among notable first round matches, an all-Canadian matchup will see Denis Shapovalov take on Felix Auger Aliassime while Stefanos Tsitsipas takes on Andrey Rublev in an extreme tough contest.

For India tennis fans, Prajnesh Gunneswaran is the only automatic entrant into the draw and he faces an extremely tough prospect in Cincinnati Masters champion Daniil Medvedev. The Russian is in the same quarter as Djokovic who he has beaten twice this season.

(With AFP inputs)

Also See: US Open 2019: World No 1s Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka named top seeds; Roger Federer seeded third

Naomi Osaka goes past Ashleigh Barty to grab top spot in WTA rankings; Novak Djokovic continues to lead ATP rankings

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