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US Open women’s draw released: Serena Williams on collision course with fellow Americans at unpredictable fan-free major

hannahwilks in US Open 27 Aug 2020
Serena Williams is seeded third at the 2020 US Open (PA Images)

Serena Williams could face compatriots Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, among others, as she pursues a 24th Grand Slam title at the 2020 US Open.

The women’s singles draw for the US Open, which takes place 31 August-13 September, was released on Thursday.

The tournament will be played behind closed doors and no draw ceremony was held after the USTA, ATP and WTA’s collective decision to ‘pause’ the Western & Southern Open – currently being held at the US Open venue, the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Centre in Flushing Meadows, New York – on Thursday in response to a fresh outbreak of police violence in the USA. The decision to postpone the semifinals until Friday was sparked by Naomi Osaka’s statement declaring that she would not play her scheduled match against Elise Mertens. Osaka has subsequently yielded to entreaties and will play against Mertens on Friday.

The US Open begins on Monday 31 August and will be played behind closed doors, with players and tournament staff enclosed in a bio-security ‘bubble’.

US Open 2020: Tournament information, schedules, records, latest news and live streaming

Six of the WTA’s top 10, including world no. 1 Ashleigh Barty and defending champion Bianca Andreescu, are not playing, but the draw still looks very strong.

This is largely due to the presence of Serena Williams, who will be going for a record Open Era seventh US Open title as well as her 24th major title, which would tie Margaret Court’s all-time record.

Third-seeded Williams has landed in the bottom half of the draw, and on a collision course with some of her compatriots. Williams will open against fellow American Kristie Ahn and could face 2017 US Open champion Sloane Stephens in the third round and Madison Keys, the woman Stephens beat to win that title, in the quarterfinals. Rising teenager Amanda Anisimova, another American player, is also in this quarter – as are non-Americans Garbine Muguruza, a two-time Grand Slam champion; the in-form Jil Teichmann of Switzerland, who could face Keys in the second round; and Maria Sakkari, the athletic Greek who beat Williams at the Western & Southern Open this week.

Sofia Kenin is Serena Williams’s projected semifinal opponent at the US Open (PA Images)

Williams could face yet another American in the semifinals in the form of second seed Sofia Kenin, the Australian Open champion who beat Williams at the French Open in 2019. Kenin’s potential opponents include the in-form Ons Jabeur, sixteenth seed Elise Mertens (a Western & Southern Open semifinalist this week) and wildcard Kim Clijsters, the three-time US Open champion who has unretired after eight years away from competition. Clijsters faces 21st seed Ekaterina Alexandrova in the first round.

Fifth seed Aryna Sabalenka is also in this quarter but there are a swarm of potentially dangerous opponents, including two-time US Open runner-up Victoria Azarenka – Sabalenka’s potential second-round opponent – and, in the fourth round, Venus Williams and Johanna Konta. Konta has an all-British clash with Heather Watson in the first round while Venus Williams opens against 20th seed Karolina Muchova, a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2019.

Top seed Karolina Pliskova, the only top-10 player based outside the USA to travel to New York, will open against Anhelina Kalinina and could face Jennifer Brady, a surprise champion at the Top Seed Open in Lexington two weeks ago, in the third round. The 2016 US Open champion Angelique Kerber is a potential fourth-round opponent for Pliskova, who finished runner-up to her in that year, and eighth seed Petra Martic or 2019 French Open runner-up Marketa Vondrousova are among possible quarterfinal opponents.

The 2018 US Open champion Osaka, who made headlines on Thursday with her decision not to play her semifinal match, could face Coco Gauff – with whom she has a developing rivalry – in the third round. The in-form Anett Kontaveit could wait in the round of 16 and Petra Kvitova is her projected quarterfinal opponent.