NEW YORK (AP) — Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will finally meet in the U.S. Open, and they’ll do it in their very first match.
The past U.S. Open champions, two of the biggest stars in women’s tennis, were scheduled for an opening-round matchup when the draws were conducted Thursday for the final major of the year.
Williams and Sharapova have met in the finals of the other three majors and the 2012 Olympics but have never played each other in the U.S. Open. Williams owns a 19-2 record in their WTA Tour matchups and has won 18 in a row, but that lopsided number shouldn’t do much to dampen the hype around what will be the marquee match of the opening round at Flushing Meadows, which starts Monday.
Williams will begin another bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title. Sharapova isn’t the same player she was when she won the 2006 U.S. Open championship — or beat Williams two years earlier in the final at Wimbledon — but remains one of the most popular players among fans in New York.
The men’s draw sent No. 3 seed Roger Federer into the top half, meaning he could play top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. They met 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.
First, Nadal faces a potential first-round test against John Millman, the Australian who knocked Federer out in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows last year. Nadal could potentially face fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem in the semifinals.
Other interesting first-round matches on the men’s side include an all-Canadian showdown between No. 18 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, and eighth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas against Andrey Rublev, who routed Federer last week in the Western & Southern Open.
Women’s top seed Naomi Osaka, who beat Williams in last year’s final for her first major title, could face a third-round match against Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old American who made it to the fourth round at Wimbledon and was given a wild card into the U.S. Open.