US Open draw: Williams could face Sharapova in calendar Slam bid

  • AP, New York
  • Updated: Aug 28, 2015 15:31 IST
Maria Sharapova will be looking to end 11 years of misery when she tackles Serena Williams for a place in the 2015 Wimbledon final on July 09, 2015. (AFP File Photo)

As she seeks to complete the first calendar Grand Slam since 1988, top-ranked Serena Williams might find herself competing against the past and future of the United States' tennis hopes, following the announcement of the women's singles draw in New York on Thursday.

A potential third-round opponent is 22-year-old Sloane Stephens, who beat her in the 2013 Australian Open quarter-finals and is coming off her first WTA title in Washington this month. A possible fourth-round foe is 20-year-old Madison Keys, who reached this year's Australian Open semi-finals.

Then, in the quarter-finals, she could face her sister, seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams. Serena had to beat Venus in the fourth round at Wimbledon on the way to completing her second 'Serena Slam' - holding all four major championships at once, but just not in the same year.

Now Williams is attempting to complete the first Grand Slam since Steffi Graf 27 years ago. Asked about the potential matchup with her sister after Thursday's draw ceremony, Williams laughed and said, "It's better than the round of 16, so that's how I look at it."

Another potential quarter-final opponent is 12th-seeded Swiss teen Belinda Bencic, who recently upset Williams in Toronto en route to a breakthrough title. Williams could face Maria Sharapova for the second straight major semi-final after beating her Russian rival for the 17th consecutive time at Wimbledon.

There are nine US players in all in Williams' quarter of the bracket. Based on recent results, facing the young Americans early in the tournament could help keep Williams sharp under the pressure of her Grand Slam pursuit. Since the upset by Stephens in early 2013, Williams has lost just once to a countrywoman - to Venus more than a year ago. Of course, she hasn't lost much to anyone during that span.

She avenged the loss to Stephens with a straight-set victory in the 2013 US Open, then defeated her three more times this year, including a come-from-behind win in the fourth round at the French Open. And Williams won her only meeting with Keys in that Australian Open semi-final. "You have Sloane, I seem to play her every tournament," Williams said. "Madison is playing really well. So is Sloane, actually - she's playing excellent. So it's not anything simple or easy to go through."

Williams' first-round opponent is 86th-ranked Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia, whom she has never played. A potentially tricky second-round foe is Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, who made a resurgent run to the fourth round of last year's US Open. Second-seeded Simona Halep and fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki, who lost to Williams in the 2014 US Open final, are in the other half of the draw.

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