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U.S Open draw: Serena Williams to face Danka Kovinic in first round; Swiatek to meet Paolini in opener

New York : In what is set to be her final tournament, 23-time major champion Serena Williams will face Montenegro’s Danka Kovinic in the first round of the U.S Open, the organisers announced on Thursday.Earlier this month, Williams announced her impending retirement after the U.S Open. A champion in New York six times, she will face No.80 Kovinic for the first time.

The 27-year-old Montenegrin reached a career-high ranking of No.46 in 2016 and became the first woman from her country to win a WTA Tour title last year at Charleston.In January, Kovinic broke new ground for Montenegro at the Australian Open after defeating Emma Raducanu to become the first woman from her country to reach the third round of a Slam.

The winner of that opener will face either No.2 Anett Kontaveit or Romania’s Jaqueline Cristian.World No.1 Iga Swiatek tops the draw and will face Italy’s Jasmine Paolini in the first round. The winner will face either 2018 champion Sloane Stephens or Belgium’s Greet Minnen.

Also drawn into Swiatek’s top quarter are three former major champions in No. 9 seed Garbie Muguruza, No. 16 Jelena Ostapenko, and No.21 Petra Kvitova, as well as the highest-seeded American, No. 8 Jessica Pegula.The no. 24 seed Amanda Anisimova and two-time quarterfinalist Elise Mertens also landed in Swiatek’s quarter.

Ostapenko faces a tough opening draw against 19-year-old Chinese talent Zheng Qinwen.No 4 seed Paula Badosa leads the second quarter of the draw and will take on Lesia Tsurenko in the first round. Reigning champion Emma Raducanu has been drawn into Badosa’s quarter and will open against France’s Alize Cornet.

The Frenchwoman is set to play her 63rd consecutive Slam, which will break the record for most consecutive Slam main-draw appearances by a WTA player.Badosa’s quarter features four seeds who have put together consistent success at the U.S Open, including 2019 semifinalist and No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic, three-time finalist Victoria Azarenka, 2021 semifinalist, No. 6 seed Aryna Sabalenka and 2016 finalist Karolina Pliskova.

Two-time champion Naomi Osaka is also in the Badosa quarter. Osaka will open against this year’s Australian Open runner-up Danielle Collins in the first round and could face Raducanu in the third round.Reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina seeded No 25, will open against a qualifier. The winner would face either Venus Williams or Alison Van Uytvanck in the second round.

The third quarter of the draw is the toughest section, anchored by No 3 seed and last year’s semifinalist Maria Sakkari and Toronto champion and No 7 seed Simona Halep.Also landing in this quarter are No.12 seed Coco Gauff, Cincinnati champion Caroline Garcia and Cincinnati semifinalist Madison Keys.

The final quarter of the draw is led by No.2 Kontaveit and No.5 Ons Jabeur, who will open against Madison Brengle.The last quarter also features 2021 finalist Leylah Fernandez, San Jose champion Daria Kasatkina and 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.

 

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