No. 2 Halep draws Sharapova to start US Open

Maria Sharapova‘s first Grand Slam match in more than a year will come against No. 2-seeded Simona Halep, while a potential first US Open matchup between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could happen in the semifinals.

Sharapova: US Open prep ‘not the best’

Former world No. 1 Maria Sharapova has admitted that she is not fully prepared for the US Open.

Sharapova’s first-round US Open matchup with two-time French Open runner-up Halep was set by Friday’s draw.

The U.S. Tennis Association awarded a wild-card invitation to Sharapova, who is ranked 147th after returning from a 15-month doping suspension in April. Her five major championships include the 2006 US Open.

Sharapova was kicked off the tour after testing positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open.

The US Open starts Monday.

Nadal is seeded No. 1 at Flushing Meadows for the first time since 2010 after returning to the ATP’s top ranking this week. Federer is seeded No. 3. Both wound up in the top half of the US Open bracket. They have played 37 head-to-head matches, including 12 at major tournaments, but never at Flushing Meadows.

The bottom half’s semifinal could be No. 2 Andy Murray vs. No. 4 Alexander Zverev.

In the men’s draw, potential quarterfinal matchups would be Nadal vs. No. 7 Grigor Dimitrov, Murray vs. No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer vs. No. 6 Dominic Thiem and Zverev vs. 2014 US Open champion and No. 5 seed Marin Cilic.

Potential women’s quarterfinal matchups in the draw’s bottom half include Halep or Sharapova against No. 7 Johanna Konta of Britain, a semifinalist at Wimbledon, and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza against No. 5 Caroline Wozniacki or No. 9 Venus Williams, a seven-time major champion and the runner-up at the All England Club last month at age 37.

Williams’ sister, 23-time major champion Serena, is not playing in the US Open because she is pregnant and expecting to give birth in September.

In the top half of the bracket, the quarterfinals could be No. 1 Karolina Pliskova against 2004 US Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, and defending champion Angelique Kerber or French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko against No. 4 Elina Svitolina or No. 15 Madison Keys of the United States.

Kerber beat Pliskova in last year’s final in New York and moved up to No. 1 in the rankings for the first time. But Kerber’s 2017 has been rough, including a first-round loss at the French Open, and she is seeded No. 6 at the US Open.

The 30-year-old Sharapova was eligible to make her return to Grand Slam action at the French Open in May, but that country’s tennis federation declined to offer her a wild card. She then was going to try to qualify for Wimbledon in June but ended up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh.

Sharapova has been participating in tournaments via wild-card invitations, beginning on red clay at Stuttgart, Germany, in April.

She was 19 when she won her US Open trophy.

Two years before that, at 17, Sharapova won her first major title at Wimbledon. She has since completed a career Grand Slam.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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