New York, Aug 26 (IANS) Spanish top seed Rafael Nadal and Swiss third seed Roger Federer are in the same half of the US Open men’s singles draw — released Friday — and could meet in the semi-finals. On the other hand, Russian Maria Sharapova, playing her first major tennis tournament since returning from a doping suspension, will square off in the first round against Romanian second seed Simona Halep.
A match-up between Nadal and Federer — arch-rivals, all-time greats and winners of the first three Grand Slam events of 2017 — would be their first-ever meeting at Flushing Meadows, reports Efe.
Nadal leads their career head-to-head 23-14 but Federer has won their last four matches, three of which were played on hard court this season: in the Australian Open final, the Indian Wells round of 16 and the Miami Open final.
Nadal will take on Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic in the first round, while seventh-seeded Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, fresh off capturing his first-ever ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati, looms as a possible quarterfinal opponent.
Federer, meanwhile, has a tricky draw that begins with a clash against talented 19-year-old American Frances Tiafoe and could see him square off against Australian rising star Nick Kyrgios in what would be a blockbuster round-of-16 contest.
Second-seeded Andy Murray of Scotland, who has been battling a hip injury, appears to have a less threatening draw, with eighth-seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, 12th-seeded Spaniard Pablo Carreño Busta and French No. 16 seed Lucas Pouille the biggest threats on paper.
The fourth seed in the men’s draw, Germany’s Alexander Zverev, will start his campaign against a qualifier and could meet one or more big servers in his quarter, including possible match-ups with South African 28th seed Kevin Anderson in the round of 32, American 13th seed Jack Sock in the round of 16 and Croatian fifth seed Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals.
In the women’s draw, Czech top seed Karolina Pliskova starts against Poland’s Magda Linette and could face Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals and Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals.
But the big story is in the bottom section, where the second seed Halep has been drawn in the first round against Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion who is playing her first major tournament since returning earlier this year from a 15-month doping suspension.
Sharapova received a wild card into the main draw from the United States Tennis Association (USTA).
Spanish third seed and and reigning Wimbledon champion Garbiñe Muguruza is in the same quarter of the draw with American ninth seed Venus Williams and Danish fifth seed Carolina Wozniacki.
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