While six-time US Open champion, Serena Williams, will be a noticeable absence from this year’s women’s draw in New York, tennis fans can take solace knowing there are plenty of exciting storylines waiting to unfold, as the fourth and final Grand Slam event of the year kicks off on Monday.
Speaking of notable absences, Maria Sharapova is back and will look to claim her first Grand Slam title since returning from suspension. Despite the 30-year-old’s ban being lifted in April, Sharapova has been plagued by injury and has only played one match since May. Her first major test of the year isn’t an easy one either. Sharapova meets No. 2 seed Simona Halep in opening round action.
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While the Russian wild card owns the 6-0 head-to-head record, Halep has shown consistency on the courts over the past few months. She’s reached the quarter-finals or better of the past 10 tournaments she has played and has finished as runner-up on three occasions this year.
Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard looks to jumpstart her 2017 season with an impressive run at Flushing Meadows. The world No. 76 suffered a first-round exit at last year’s US Open, however, is capable of putting in the distance, as the 23-year-old reached the fourth round in 2014 and 2015.
A practice with world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova seemed to lay the groundwork for Bouchard’s 2017 campaign. The Canadian’s coach, Thomas Högsted, spoke to TSN’s Mark Masters about the positive practice session over the weekend. Click the image below to watch the interview.
Her first round match sees Bouchard matched up against Evgeniya Rodina. The 28-year-old Russian has never played Bouchard on the pro circuit, as the pair meets for the first time on Tuesday. However, a win could see Bouchard meet this year’s Rogers Cup champion Elina Svitolina in the second round.
Bouchard is also in action in doubles, and recently has no problem in finding exciting partners to play alongside. Last month in Toronto, Bouchard partnered with World No. 1 Pliskova in Rogers Cup doubles. This week in New York, the Canadian teams up with Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko to contend for their first Grand Slam doubles titles. Bouchard and Ostapenko meet Elise Mertens and Demi Schuurs of the Netherlands in Wednesday’s first round match.
Another exciting storyline this week is 37-year-old Venus Williams. The two-time champion has made a point this year to prove that anything is possible. She reached the final at the Australian Open and nearly six months after that did the same at Wimbledon. Now, with sister Serena out of the draw and cheering her on, the eldest Williams sister will look to paint a fitting ending to an incredible 2017 season, hopefully for her, with an eighth Grand Slam title in tow.