New York - Russian wildcard Maria Sharapova, making her return to Grand Slam
tennis after a 15-month doping suspension, will face world number two
Simona Halep in the first round of the US Open.
Sharapova has a
6-0 career record against Halep, who last Sunday missed out on a third
chance in as many months to climb to the top of the rankings.
Grand Slam champion Sharapova was issued a two-year suspension after
testing positive for the banned heart and blood boosting drug meldonium
at the 2016 Australian Open, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport
reduced the ban on appeal.
She said that she had taken it for several years and did not know it had been placed on the banned list at the start of 2016.
world number one Sharapova made her return in April at Stuttgart,
reaching the semi-finals as a wildcard, but such invitations sparked
criticism from some WTA rivals, saying she should have to work her way
back without such benefits, some suggesting a life ban.
was refused a wildcard by French Open organizers and missed Wimbledon
with a thigh injury. A forearm injury has limited her to one US Open
hardcourt tuneup match.
Sharapova has missed three of the past four US Opens, her last visit ending in the 2014 fourth round.
champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain humbled Halep 6-1, 6-0 in last
Sunday's final at Cincinnati to deny her the top ranking.
also lost playing for number one in the French Open final against Jelena
Ostapenko and a Wimbledon quarter-final against Johanna Konta, each
time after taking the first set.
Britain's Konta, the seventh seed, could meet Halep in the quarter-finals.
number one Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic opens against
Poland's Magda Linette. She could meet Russian eighth seed Svetlana
Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals.
Defending champion Angelique
Kerber, the sixth seed from Germany, will open against Japan's Naomi
Osaka. She could meet Ukraine's fourth-seeded Elina Svitolina in the
Third seed Muguruza and Denmark's fifth-seeded
Caroline Wozniacki could also meet in the quarters. Wozniacki will open
against a qualifier while Muguruza's first foe is American Varvara
US ninth seed Venus Williams, one of eight players who
could finish the US Open atop the world rankings, will open against a
qualifier. The 37-year-old, seven-time Grand Slam champion could face
Wozniacki in the fourth round.