US Open Draws Announced, Maria Sharapova Faces Tough Competition In Major Return

Today, the U.S. Tennis Association revealed the draws for the US Open for both women's and men's singles. The US Open is the last Grand Slam Tournament of the year in tennis, which will run from August 28 until September 10.

For Maria Sharapova, who was awarded a wild-card invitation by the U.S. Tennis Association, this will be her first major championship match since the 2016 Australian Open. Sharapova returned from her 15-month ban after testing positive for meldonium in April, and since then, she has only played in four events due to having to qualify to make tournaments and injury.

In fact, she was denied a wild-card invitation into the French Open and did not ask for one at Wimbledon, where she had to pull out of qualifying because of a muscle injury. Now Sharapova, who has fallen to No. 147 in the world rankings, will face off against number two seeded Simona Halep in the first round. Sharapova will be a longshot to win her sixth major championship and second US Open.

Number one seeded Karolina Pliskova, who became No.1 in the world on July 17, will be seeking her first career major victory. Rounding out the rest of the top eight seeded players are Halep (No.2), Garbine Muguruza (No.3), Elina Svitolina (No.4), Caroline Wozniacki (No.5), Angelique Kerber (No.6), Johanna Konta (No.7), and Svetlana Kuznetsova (No.8).

Karolina Pliskova celebrates after winning the Aegon International Eastbourne
Can new number one Karolina Pliskova breakthrough and win her first major? [Image by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images]

Serena Williams, who won this year's Australian Open, is not playing since she is pregnant, but her sister, Venus Williams, is seeded ninth and is the highest seeded American. Jelena Ostapenko, who won this year's French Open, is seeded 12. This year's Wimbledon winner, Murguruza, and Kuznetsova are the only two players seeded in the top eight to have won majors as the women's draw looks to be a wide open for any of the top players to win.

For the men's draw at the US Open, Rafael Nadal, who just returned to being the number one player in the world earlier this week, is the top seed. Nadal will be looking to capture his second major of the year and 16 overall. Andy Murray holds the number two spot despite having a rough and injury filled season. Murray has actually not played a match since he injured his hip at Wimbledon.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer is the number three seed and is looking to try to win his third major of the year and 20 overall. The 36-year-old did suffer a back injury at the Cincinnati Masters a few weeks ago but said that he is "feeling much, much better than a week ago. That's very encouraging for me ahead of New York."

Interestingly enough, Nadal and Federer are seeded on the same side of the bracket, meaning that they could face each other if both were to reach the semifinals. Despite having played head to head 12 different times in major tournaments, the two great rivals have never played against each other at the US Open.

Roger Federer after winning Wimbledon
Can Roger Federer win a third major this year? [Image by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images]

The men's side will be missing some top players as Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, and Kei Nishikori are all not playing in the event as they recover from injuries. Rounding out the rest of the top eight on the men's side are Alexander Zverev (No.4), Marin Cilic (No.5), Dominic Thiem (No.6), Grigor Dimitrov (No.7) and Milos Raonic (No.8).

Cilic is the only one of these players who has won a Grand Slam before but has not played since he suffered an adductor injury during Wimbledon. The highest seeded American on the men's side is John Isner, who is the tenth seed.

[Featured Image by Nick Laham/Getty Images]