Tennis

Serena Williams chases a record 24th Grand Slam

Top seed Naomi Osaka has said that last year’s acrimonious final will not stop her from watching the high-profile Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova clash.

Top seed Naomi Osaka has said that last year’s acrimonious final will not stop her from watching the high-profile Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova clash.   | Photo Credit: AP

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Faces Sharapova in opener; Big Three ‘almost impossible’ to beat in the men’s section

Serena Williams has the US Open spotlight as she chases tennis history, but a host of Grand Slam winners and high-ranked rivals are also taking aim at the title.

The 37-year-old American will be the focus of attention when the Flushing Meadows fortnight begins on Monday with her first-round night match against Russian Maria Sharapova the most anticipated of the women’s openers.

“Of course I’m going to watch it,” said top-seeded defending champion Naomi Osaka, who beat Williams in last year’s final. “I think everyone in New York is going to watch it.”

Williams will try to capture her 24th Grand Slam singles title to match the all-time record set by Margaret Court.

The wannabes

Ashleigh Barty, Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep and Czech third seed Karolina Pliskova, seeking her first Slam title, are among the foes trying to deny Williams yet again in a quest she insists doesn’t dominate her thoughts.

Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic have enjoyed years-long stranglehold on Grand Slam titles and that dominance is unlikely to end at the U.S. Open where a cast of hopefuls will try to end their reign.

The ‘Big Three’ have combined to win each of the last 11 Grand Slams, with Serb Djokovic having triumphed in four of the last five blue riband events and a popular pick to successfully defend his New York title despite being dealt a tough draw.

Top seed Djokovic will begin his title defence against Roberto Carballes Baena, and before a projected semifinal clash with five-time winner Federer could meet former champion Stan Wawrinka or 2017 finalist Kevin Anderson in the fourth round.

One player who is widely considered a possible threat is Russian fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, who has proven to be the most in-form player in the lead-up to the U.S. Open and is Djokovic’s projected quarterfinal opponent.

Federer, owner of a record 20 Grand Slam titles, considers himself in fine form despite a forgettable U.S. Open tune-up that consisted of a swift third-round upset in Cincinnati. The 38-year-old Swiss third seed has played just two matches since last month’s Wimbledon final, where he failed to convert two championship points on his own serve in the fifth set against Djokovic, but is raring to go.

Nadal ready

Three-times champion Nadal, whose title defence at last year’s U.S. Open ended with him retiring from the semifinals with a knee injury, has also declared himself ready for battle.

The Spanish second seed has been drawn in the opposite half of rivals Djokovic and Federer and his biggest hurdle to the final could be fourth seed Austrian Dominic Thiem, who is his projected semifinal opponent.

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Printable version | Jan 27, 2020 6:11:12 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/serena-williams-chases-a-record-24th-grand-slam/article29247464.ece

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