Published: Mon, August 28, 2017
Sports | By Brett Lawson

Federer on 3rd Slam title this year: 'Surreal'

Federer on 3rd Slam title this year: 'Surreal'

The US Open broke ranks with the other grand slams by offering a wild card to Sharapova, whose ranking is still down at 147 following her 15-month doping ban.

Simona Halep smiled wryly when she recalled learning of her first-round opponent on the US Open practice courts on Friday. She has been troubled by injuries following her return and is now ranked No 147 in the world, which meant she could not go directly into the main draw here without a wild card.

Sharapova played only one US Open tuneup match before a forearm injury sidelined her, but she has practiced on the courts and taken inspiration from past success, notably a 2006 US Open title.

Sharapova was kicked off the tour after testing positive for the newly banned drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open. Notably, Nadal and Federer can meet in the semifinals as they landed in the same half of the draw. Rafa, the world No. 1, the top seed and a two-time former champion, crowned in 2010 and 2013. Venus is on the bottom half of the bracket in a section that also features Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza and former U.S. Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki. They have played 37 head-to-head matches, including 12 at major tournaments, but never at Flushing Meadows.

Roger Federer of Switzerland hits a forehand against Alexander Zverev of Germany (not pictured) during the men's final at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament at Uniprix Stadium. She has since completed a career Grand Slam.

They have met six times before, with Sharapova winning each time, including in the final of the French Open in 2014.

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In the women's draw, Czech top seed Karolina Pliskova starts against Poland's Magda Linette and could face Russian eighth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarter-finals and Ukrainian fourth seed Elina Svitolina in the semi-finals.

Sharapova, a tall and lean blonde Russian who's a five-time Grand Slam victor, has earned an estimated $285 million in prize money and modeling endorsements since 2001....from companies like American Express, Nike, and Canon. But Kerber's 2017 has been rough, including a first-round loss at the French Open, and she is seeded No. 6 at the U.S. Open.

She's 18 now, a Cinderella story at two Opens, including in 2014 at age 15 when she became the youngest American to win a match here. It all starts tomorrow, so we'll see what happens, either way, it should be fun and interesting to watch.

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. I don't know what to say.

Glad to see USTA give Maria Sharapova a wild card, suspension over, great for the sport to have her back.

Sharapova's best result in NY was in 2006 when she won her second Grand Slam at 19 years old, defeating Justine Henin in straight sets.

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