Serena Williams to face No. 80 Danka Kovinic as US Open draw introduced

NEW YORK — Serena Williams’ first opponent at what she has indicated can be her final U.S. Open — and, certainly, the final event of her profession — is unseeded Danka Kovinic.

Win that, and Williams might face No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia within the second spherical.

The brackets for the ladies’s and males’s singles occasions have been launched Thursday by the U.S. Tennis Affiliation.

Play begins Monday, and the USTA introduced hours after the draw that Williams’ half of the ladies’s discipline will compete that day. The primary spherical continues Tuesday.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who turns 41 on Sept. 26, introduced this month she was getting ready to step away from her enjoying profession. She didn’t explicitly say when she deliberate to cease however made it sound as if the U.S. Open would mark her farewell.

Williams has gained the hard-court event in Flushing Meadows six occasions.

Kovinic has by no means been previous the second spherical in 4 appearances on the U.S. Open. She is a 27-year-old from Montenegro who’s eightieth within the WTA rankings this week and has been as excessive as forty sixth.

Williams and Kovinic have by no means performed one another in singles.

Williams is simply 1/3 this season, having not too long ago returned to singles motion after a 12 months away following a first-round harm exit at Wimbledon in 2021.

Her first match again got here on the All England Membership in late June, and he or she misplaced her opener there in a third-set tiebreaker to One hundred and fifteenth-ranked Concord Tan.

After successful a match at a event in Toronto, Williams was eradicated in straight units there by Tokyo Olympics gold medalist Belinda Bencic, then misplaced once more in straight units at Cincinnati in opposition to reigning U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu.

As a result of Williams has stated she’s getting ready to wind down her tennis profession, her each transfer would be the focus in the beginning of the U.S. Open. Followers can pay shut consideration, as a result of every match might be her final.

Whereas Williams has spent greater than 300 weeks at No. 1, her lack of exercise has contributed to a slide; she is 410th this week.

That meant she wouldn’t be seeded in New York and will have been positioned wherever within the discipline – and in opposition to any participant.

Different potential opponents for Williams, ought to she progress by the event, embrace No. 27 seed Martina Trevisan of Italy within the third spherical and 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Leylah Fernandez of Canada or 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic within the fourth.

Williams might face her older sister, seven-time main champion Venus, solely within the last, as a result of they’re on reverse sides of the bracket.

No. 1 Iga Swiatek, a two-time French Open champion, will meet Jasmine Paolini within the first spherical, whereas Raducanu will start her title protection in opposition to Alize Cornet. Each of these matches can be Tuesday.

Potential quarterfinals are Swiatek vs. No. 8 Jessica Pegula, and No. 4 Paula Badosa vs. No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka on the highest half of the sphere, and Kontaveit – or, maybe, Williams – vs. Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur, and No. 3 Maria Sakkari vs. No. 7 Simona Halep or French Open runner-up Coco Gauff on the underside half.

One fascinating first-round matchup on Tuesday is Naomi Osaka, who gained the U.S. Open in 2018 and 2020 for 2 of her 4 main championships, in opposition to Danielle Collins, the Australian Open runner-up this January.

Shortly earlier than the draw announcement, some anticipated news arrived: Novak Djokovic tweeted that he wouldn’t be in New York for the U.S. Open.

The 35-year-old from Serbia, who owns 21 Grand Slam titles, isn’t vaccinated in opposition to COVID-19. Overseas residents who haven’t acquired the shot are usually not allowed to enter america.

Djokovic is a three-time champion at Flushing Meadows; he misplaced within the 2021 last to Daniil Medvedev, ending a bid for the primary calendar-year Grand Slam in males’s tennis since 1969.

Medvedev is seeded No. 1, making this U.S. Open the primary main since 2004 with out Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Andy Murray in that spot. He’ll begin by taking over Stefan Kozlov of america on Monday.

No. 2 Nadal, whose 22 Grand Slam titles are a document for a person, was drawn to face Australian wild-card recipient Rinky Hijikata on Tuesday.

Potential males’s quarterfinals are Medvedev vs. No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 5 Casper Ruud in what could be a matchup between the previous two French Open runners-up, Nadal vs. No. 7 Cam Norrie, and No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz.

Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios, who’s seeded No. 23, might meet Medvedev within the fourth spherical. Within the first spherical Monday, Kyrgios will play his fellow Australian, good good friend and doubles companion Thanasi Kokkinakis.