Simona Halep draws wildcard Maria Sharapova at US Open

Simona Halep draws wildcard Maria Sharapova at US Open

Even though Sharapova is now ranked #148 in the world, the former #1 was often topic number one in questioning to the female players Saturday, because the U.S. Open officials granted her "wild card" status.

The U.S. Tennis Association awarded a wild-card invitation to Sharapova, who is ranked only 147th after returning from a 15-month doping suspension in April.

Halep, the second seed, will be favored in that matchup but it's an awfully tough opener for her. Angelique Kerber, the defending champion on the women's side, will take on Naomi Osaka, while Garbine Muguruza will face American Varvara Lepchenko.

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.

The absence of Serena Williams has created an opportunity at the top of the WTA rankings, and the fact no fewer than eight women can leave the last Grand Slam of the season as world No 1 makes for the kind of logjam usually only seen amongst yellow taxis queuing in the streets around Times Square.

Eight women enter with a shot at being ranked No. 1 when the U.S. Open ends: Karolina Pliskova, the 2016 runner-up who now holds the top spot, Halep, Muguruza, Elina Svitolina, Caroline Wozniacki, Johanna Konta, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Venus Williams. However, unlike in other majors, the Russian hasn't been able to reach another final in Flushing Meadows.

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. First round of a Grand Slam.

Cincinnati marked the third time this year that Halep failed to win with the top ranking on the line after losing to 20-year-old Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open final and to Johanna Konta in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

Sharapova was 19 when she won her U.S. Open trophy. "So it's going to be a unique experience for me".

"If it means that I can play before the end of the year, then that's what I would love to do".

Some players that did not impress me were Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Jack Sock, Dominic Thiem, and Richard Gasquet. "So maybe I will change this", Halep said.

More young blood breaking into the top 32 seedings are teenage Ana Konjuh and 21-year-old Anett Kontaveit, while 23-year-old Gavrilova has just won her first title in CT.

Halep could face another contender for No1, No6 seed Johanna Konta, in the quarters, though the in-form Julia Goerges may have other ideas, and No11 seed Dominika Cibulkova, has just become runner-up in CT. "So let s see how we finish season".

Here, however, the 25-year-old Romanian refused to be drawn into any controversy about her opponent's wild card. And he's back in the role of Grand Slam title favorite after winning the past two majors he entered, the Australian Open in January and Wimbledon in July. Whether she feels pressure because of it is a question she gets asked about at almost every tournament she plays.

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