Serena Williams handed tough start


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Six-time US Open champion Serena Williams has been handed a tough first-round draw as she prepares to take on Maria Sharapova at Flushing Meadows.The American will return to New York with a point to prove after a difficult 2019 campaign so far.

Williams, 8.00 to win the tournament, has played her Russian rival on 21 occasions and there has been some tension between the pair over the years.

Their last meeting took place at the Australian Open in 2016, and both players have endured their recent injury woes. Williams, now 37, has had to withdraw from several tournaments due to back problems.

Sharapova has only played six matches since January due to a shoulder injury. Elsewhere in the women’s draw, British number one Johanna Konta has been handed a tough first-round match against Daria Kasatkina.

Konta is also in the same quarter as two-time champion Venus Williams and world number three Karolina Pliskova. Top seed and defending champion Naomi Osaka takes on Anna Blinkova, and she is 17.00 to defend her crown this autumn.

Teenager Cori Gauff faces Anastasia Potapova, and she will be hoping to build on her superb performance at Wimbledon. In the men’s draw, defending champion Novak Djokovic is on a collision course with five-time winner Roger Federer.

They will meet in the semi-finals if they progress that far in New York, while Rafael Nadal is in the bottom half of the draw. The Spaniard starts the final Grand Slam of the year against John Millman, who famously beat Federer in 2018 at the US Open.

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