Serena's having a baby, so US Open talk turns to Sharapova

US Open 2017: Players under the most pressure on the women's draw

But the big story is in the bottom section, where the second seed Halep has been drawn in the first round against Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion who is playing her first major tournament since returning earlier this year from a 15-month doping suspension.

Maria Sharapova, 30, didn't join the parade of tennis stars who marched into the press room at Arthur Ashe Stadium, an annual ritual before every U.S. Open, but her name was constantly mentioned in questions to the top, female athletes.

Halep has previously spoken out against tournaments inviting Sharapova, saying at the Russian's comeback event in Stuttgart in April: "For the kids, for the young players, it is not okay to help with a wild card the player that was banned for doping".

Five-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova was banned after testing positive for the blood boosting drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. Federer owns a record 19 Grand Slam championships; Nadal ranks second among men with 15. Rafa, the world No. 1, the top seed and a two-time former champion, crowned in 2010 and 2013.

Federer beat Nadal in the Australian Open final in January.

Federer turned 36 on August 8, making him older than all but two men to have ever won the U.S. Open.

According to The Independent, Novak Djokovic, Kei Nishikori and Milos Raonic are all out through injury, as Andy Murray and Roger Federer struggle for fitness. No. 4 Alexander Zverev and No. 5 Tomas Berdych are possible last-eight opponents. The Romanian, who starts off the action with an eye-catching first-round meeting with Sharapova, would dearly love to consolidate her emergence as one of the top women players in the game by celebrating her first Grand Slam win.

Nadal cited different ball contracts for the US Open and its main tuneup events as a problem that could be resolved.

As bad luck would have it, the unseeded Sharapova got stuck with a match against No. 2 seed Simona Halep in Round 1.

"Most people think that she has paid her dues and it's time to get back on the circuit". "So it's going to be a unique experience for me".

The German, victor at 20 years of the Masters 1000 of Rome and Montreal, can aim high, at least the quarter-finals, where the wait for a former victor, Croatian Marin Cilic, who has however inherited a first turn complicated in the face Frenchman Gilles Simon. She could meet eighth-seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarterfinals. There are just so many factors, especially with it being the last Grand Slam. Two years before that, at 17, Sharapova won her first major title at Wimbledon. "A lot of great players were not playing tennis at our age", Nadal said. It all starts tomorrow, so we'll see what happens, either way, it should be fun and interesting to watch. Remarkably, the elder Williams won her two titles in NY in 2000 and 2001, and was last No1 more than 15 years ago, yet she is the only woman this year to have reached two Major finals.

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