Australia

Ash Barty to face former world number two to start US Open, Aussie men in Djokovic’s quarter

Ash Barty will have to be wary from the get-go as she seeks to lift the US Open as the top seed, with former finalist Vera Zvonareva to meet her in the first round.

The Australian world number one will start favourite to lift her third grand slam title at Flushing Meadows when the event kicks off on Monday.

The Queenslander has never played the 36-year-old Russian, who reached the final both in New York and Wimbledon in 2010.

Zvonareva has these days slipped to 101 in the world but as a former world number two still demands respect from the Wimbledon champion.

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The draw, made on Thursday, could see Barty, in supreme form after winning her fifth title of the year last weekend in Cincinnati, face a second-round tie against rising French star Clara Burel.

The last 32 would then potentially pit her against Russian Veronika Kudermetova, the 29th seed who Barty’s already beaten comfortably this year on Roman clay.

In the last 16, her US friend and doubles partner Jen Brady, this year’s Australian Open finalist, could await as Barty seeks to make the quarter-finals in New York for the first time.

Then the last eight may throw up a real blockbuster with last year’s French Open champion Iga Swiatek, while Barty could have to fight past 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu in the semis.

She’s seeded to meet second seed Aryna Sabalenka in the final but the Belarusian might have to get past number three seed and reigning champ Naomi Osaka in the semi-final.

In the men’s draw, top seed Novak Djokovic, seeking the first men’s calendar-year Grand Slam since the great Rod Laver in 1969, will start off against a qualifier but could, if all goes well, face an Aussie challenge down the road.

Australian men’s number one Alex De Minaur, the 14th seed, meets American Taylor Fritz in a tough opener while Jordan Thompson has a first-round date with Italian Gianluca Mager.

The two Sydney friends could face each other in the third round, with Djokovic doubtless awaiting in the fourth.

Djokovic’s path could also include 2014 finalist Kei Nishikori in the third round, a Wimbledon final rematch with Matteo Berrettini in the quarters, another meeting with Alexander Zverev in the semis and a final against Daniil Medvedev.

Novak Djokovic holds a trophy
Novak Djokovic kisses the Wimbledon trophy after winning his sixth title at The All England Club.(

Reuters

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Nick Kyrgios will face an uphill task in his opening round tie against Spanish number 18 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, but the match of the first round looks like former champ Andy Murray up against number three seed Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Among other high-profile contests for Australian challengers will be wildcard Max Purcell’s first US Open main draw contest against 13th seed Jannik Sinner, one of the brightest talents on the ATP Tour.

2010 women’s singles champ Sam Stosur drew Estonian 28th seed Anett Kontaveit first up.

AAP


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