Saturday, 31 July, 2021


US Open 2020: Djokovic and Serena have records in their sights

US former tennis player Martina Navratilova waves as she is presented in the Royal Box on Centre Court at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon Novak Djokovic to face Damir Dzumhur in opening round as US Open releases men’s, women’s singles draws
Noah Ferguson | 30 August, 2020, 10:09

Critics have questioned if this year's U.S. Open deserves an asterisk in the record books but for Williams, who needs one more title to match Margaret Court's Grand Slam singles record of 24, it does not matter.

"I do feel there will be a lot of upsets", said 2012 US Open champion Andy Murray, whose last competitive match before the pandemic was in November. She has been drawn into the same quarter as former champion Sloane Stephens, 2017 finalist Madison Keys, two-time Grand Slam victor Garbine Muguruza and Sakkari. The same third seeded Danil Medvedev will play 2019 semifinalist and sixth seed Mateo Beretini, while second seed Dominic Thiem will play against Japan's Yoshihito Nishioka in the first round.

Among women, world No.1 Ashleigh Barty, No. 2 Simona Halep, Svetlana Kuznetsova, No. 5 Elina Svitolina and No. 7 Kiki Bertens have joined the list of top players to miss the US Open. Djokovic improved to 23-0 this year with a 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic in the Western & Southern final, overcoming a sore neck and the general discomfort that had bothered him Friday.

David Goffin is also in the half for Djokovic, who will face Ryle Opelkia in the first round.

With six of the women's top 10 skipping the tournament, the Czech Republic's Karolina Pliskova is top seed and she begins her quest for her first Grand Slam title against Ukraine's Anhelina Kalinina.

While Pliskova failed to shake off the rust, that was no excuse for the 21-year-old Kenin, who got plenty of matches under her belt during the World TeamTennis event. Since then, she has made it to four major finals but hasn't managed to even win a set in them.

Her long-time coach Patrick Mouratoglou believes she remains as motivated as ever to win more titles while Williams feels the fittest in years - a warning for her challengers in NY. The ATP's governing body includes representatives of the Grand Slam tournaments and other events; Djokovic and others, including Vasek Pospisil of Canada, want players to have more influence in the distribution of prize money and other key issues.

"I love playing here", said the American, who turns 39 in September. "It would be nice to try to keep winning".

Williams, who has had to deal with health issues like pulmonary embolism and a hard childbirth, said she was very careful during the pandemic and has opted to stay in a private apartment during the Open. It's just in history, period", she said, adding: " And if you win, it was, like, 'Wow, I was able to win in this insane circumstance when there were no fans. She said she carries around "50 masks" in her bag and has been wearing "Hazmat glasses" for extra precaution. I'm never going to stop until I retire.

Deepti Patwardhan is a freelance sportswriter based in Mumbai.

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