US Open glance: Venus Williams, Sharapova, Cilic in action

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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 Romanian could claim the world number one spot after the US Open but first she needs to navigate a way past Sharapova after being handed a particularly tough opening assignment in NY.

Sharapova, 30, is 6-4 this year since returning from the suspension and last played in the U.S. Open in 2014, losing in the round of 16.

Halep, 25, is one of eight players vying for the top ranking at the U.S. Open but has had struggled with consistency throughout the season.

Sharapova tested positive for the drug meldonium in 2016, which had been added to the World Anti-Doping Agency's banned substances list in January of that year.

Spanish top seed Rafael Nadal and Swiss third seed Roger Federer are in the same half of the US Open men's singles draw - released Friday - and could meet in the semi-finals.

A match-up between Nadal and Federer - arch-rivals, all-time greats and winners of the first three Grand Slam events of 2017 - would be their first-ever meeting at Flushing Meadows, reports Efe.

Federer has a 35-3 record this year, having taken his Grand Slam tally to 19 titles with wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

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The U.S. Open will be played August 28-Sept.

Zverev will face Darian King in his opener at Flushing Meadows, where he has never been beyond the second round.

A hip injury has seen Andy Murray join Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori on the list of absentees. Sharapova returned from a doping ban in April, but this will be her first Grand Slam match since her return, because of an ongoing forearm injury that has affected her hardcourt preparation enormously.

The 30-year-old Russian received a wildcard into the field for the year's final Grand Slam event that starts Monday on the NY hardcourts with the night feature match pitting Sharapova against Romania's second-ranked Simona Halep. Sharapova won the 2006 Open.

Simona Halep, one of the most consistent and persistent women on the tour, has needed to draw on all her focus and resilience this year as chances to claim the No1 ranking evaporated before her eyes. 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. "So maybe I will change this", Halep said.

"I'm not thinking any more". 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. Sharapova then was going to try to qualify for Wimbledon in June, but she ended up skipping the grass-court portion of the season because of an injured left thigh. "We will see Monday".

Until this year s revival, Federer had not won a Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2012.

"You can not expect to play 50 shots' rally and in 25 seconds be ready to play the next tennis point", he said.