Marketa Vondrousova took the decision to pull out of the US Open after another injury flare-up convinced her she was not ready to "play against the best" at Flushing Meadows.

The 20-year-old burst onto the scene at the French Open, beating Johanna Konta to reach a first grand slam final that she lost to Ashleigh Barty.

But Vondrousova struggled for form on the grass courts and had hoped to return at the US Open, only for a wrist problem to cause her concern in practice ahead of the year's final major.

The world number 17 subsequently decided not to continue at Flushing Meadows, with Zhang Shuai taking her line in the draw as the 33rd seed and playing Viktorija Golubic.

Vondrousova explained on Instagram: "A very tough day for me [on Friday]. I had a long break after Wimbledon to give my wrist a good rest and treatments and I was very excited to be cleared for competition.

"But at my second practice in NY my wrist injury came back with swelling and pain. To be able to play against the best at a grand slam I have to be 100 per cent fit and unfortunately I came to terms that I am not.

"I will now go home and speak with my doctors about further plans. I miss my tennis and my fans and can't wait to be back."

Darren Cahill says Simona Halep can take her game to another level and has backed the two-time grand slam champion to mount a strong challenge for a maiden US Open title.

Halep doubled her tally of major triumphs by demolishing Serena Williams with an imperious performance to win Wimbledon for the first time last month.

The 2018 French Open champion has suffered first-round defeats at Flushing Meadows in each of the past two years but is among the leading contenders to win the final grand slam of the year.

Cahill, the world number four's former coach who still spends time working with the amiable Romanian, says there is more to come from Halep.

"I think Simona can get better, absolutely, and she has a great chance at Flushing Meadows," Cahill, who will work as a commentator for ESPN at the US Open, told Omnisport.

"She's only 27 and, as we've seen over this generation in both the men's and the women's game, a lot of the players are playing their very best tennis in their early 30s, so age is not really a problem for her.

"She's been one of the most hungry tennis players I've ever met, which is part of the reason I decided to work with her when she asked four years ago.

"I could see in her eyes that desire to be as good as she could possibly be and her work ethic is second to none. She dedicates herself 100 per cent to her tennis, that comes before everything else, and that's part of the reason she's been as successful as she has.

"Winning a couple of majors has been great for her, but I think she still views every single tournament exactly as she has done before. She'll take the approach that, 'I'm here, I'm ready and if I play my best tennis, I've got a great chance of winning'."

Cahill believes last year's runner-up Williams is a worthy favourite but thinks up to 20 players are capable of being crowned US Open champion.

"Simona is coming in refreshed, relaxed about the year she's had after winning Wimbledon and she's confident." he added.

"I think it's wide open. The bookies have Serena as the favourite, but then she has an incredibly difficult draw against [Maria] Sharapova in the first round - even though she has a great record against Maria.

"Maria is always the type of player who will rise to the occasion, so it will be a difficult one.

"If Serena plays her best I'm confident she would win that and then she has to go into any major as a slight favourite with the record that she has.

"Beyond that there are 15-20 players who you would not be surprised if they win it - such is the depth of the game on the women's side and the professionalism has improved out of sight over the last 10 years."

Coco Gauff will make her second grand slam appearance at the US Open next week, fresh from capturing the tennis world's imagination with her stunning Wimbledon performance.

The 15-year-old reached the fourth round after becoming the All England Club's youngest qualifier in the Open era, and she will be one of the main attractions at her home slam.

Gauff beat her idol in the first round at Wimbledon when she defeated Venus Williams, who in 1997 shocked tennis by progressing to the US Open final as a 17-year-old before losing to Martina Hingis.

It will be a difficult challenge for Gauff to replicate that achievement, but how does her career to this point stack up to that of the adolescent Venus? We compared their two records to find out.

WTA Tour record: Williams (before the 1997 US Open) 10-9, Gauff 4-4

By the time she arrived at Flushing Meadows for her first US Open, Williams was effectively a regular on the tour and had already enjoyed reasonable success. She reached the quarter-finals at Indian Wells and beat Jennifer Capriati in Miami, where she suffered the first of two straight-sets defeats to Hingis that served as preludes to their New York showpiece.

Gauff, meanwhile, has been largely limited to the lower-level ITF circuit beyond her exploits at Wimbledon. She did beat fellow emerging talent and doubles partner Caty McNally in the first round in Miami, but that marks her only victory on the WTA Tour away from the All England Club.

Singles finals: Williams 0, Gauff 1 (ITF)

Gauff does have the experience of a singles final that the young Venus did not, though it came on the ITF Tour in Surprise, Florida in February. She suffered defeat to Sesil Karatantcheva and there was no clue at that point of the highs to come at Wimbledon.

World ranking: Williams 66, Gauff 141

The teenage Venus' performances on the tour going into the US Open had helped her become established in the top 100. Gauff still has some way to go to achieve the same feat but a Wimbledon-esque run for the 15-year-old in Queens would catapult her up the rankings.

Grand Slam win-loss record: Williams 1-2, Gauff 3-1

The major difference between the 17-year-old Venus and the 15-year-old Gauff is that prior to her dream run in the Big Apple, Williams had shown no signs of being able to deliver on the grand slam stage. She reached the second round at the French Open before being beaten by Nathalie Tauziat. At Wimbledon she lost to Magdalena Grzybowska in round one, providing little indication of the form she was about to find - or the game that would see her eventually win seven slam singles titles.

The contrast to Gauff could hardly be greater, with plenty of expectation sure to be on her shoulders after Wimbledon wins over Venus, Magdalena Rybarikova and Polona Hercog and a defeat to Simona Halep in which she did herself no disservice.

Camila Giorgi claimed a thrilling semi-final win over Wang Qiang to reach the Bronx Open decider, while Magda Linette also progressed on Friday.

Giorgi saved four match points to edge top seed Wang 4-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after two hours, 39 minutes in New York City.

The Italian came from a break down three times in the third set, saving her first match point in the 10th game.

Giorgi squandered a match point of her own in the 12th game before coming from 6-3 down in the tie-break to reach an eighth WTA Tour final.

She will face qualifier Linette, who upset fifth seed Katerina Siniakova 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 in their semi-final.

Linette is into her second WTA Tour decider and lost to Giorgi in three sets when they last met in 2015.

Top seed Wang Qiang advanced to the semi-finals of the WTA Bronx Open, where she will meet Camila Giorgi.

Wang recovered from a first-set bagel to prevail 0-6 6-1 6-4 against Russian lucky loser Anna Blinkova on Thursday.

World number 18 Wang withstood a late fightback in the final set to move through to the final four of the WTA International event.

"I didn't have too much feeling in the first set," Wang said. "In the second set, I started again, so I found my way."

Next up for Wang is Italy's Giorgi, who eased past Alize Cornet 6-2 6-1 earlier on Thursday.

Katerina Siniakova – the fifth seed – saved two match points as she survived to beat wildcard Bernarda Pera 4-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in two hours, 27 minutes.

Siniakova will face Magda Linette for a place in the final after the Polish player outlasted Karolina Muchova 6-7 (4-7) 6-4 7-6 (7-3).

Flushing Meadows was abuzz with excitement at the news Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova will meet in round one of the US Open.

Thursday's draw threw up an absolute humdinger of a tie between two of the greatest and most recognisable tennis stars of all time.

But there are plenty of other eye-catching matches in the first round of the final grand slam of 2019.

Below we have picked out six of the best to watch in New York.


SERENA WILLIAMS V MARIA SHARAPOVA

Undoubtedly the stand-out tie in the entire draw. There is little love lost between the two long-term foes, but the rivalry has been extremely one-sided. Sharapova's last prevailed against Williams way back in 2004 and, while the two have never faced off at the US Open, the Russian will need to roll back the years to end the drought.

ARYNA SABALENKA v VICTORIA AZARENKA

Sabalenka can be forgiven for cursing her luck at landing a daunting first-round tie with Belarus compatriot Azarenka, who she has never met in a competitive match. In a year that has seen her reach a career-high ranking of nine, a position she currently holds, a meeting with the former world number one straight out of the gate is not what she would have wanted as she aims to go beyond round four of a slam for the first time.

ALISON RISKE v GARBINE MUGURUZA

Two-time slam winner Muguruza faces a Riske-y tie in the opening round. The 29-year-old Riske has been consistently in the top 50 over the past six years and won the pair's past meeting in Tokyo in 2018.

RAFAEL NADAL v JOHN MILLMAN

On the face of it, this looks a complete mismatch, particularly as Nadal won their only competitive meeting at Wimbledon in 2017. But Australian Millman caused a mammoth upset at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago when he defeated Roger Federer to make the quarter-finals – his best result at a grand slam. He will be hoping for a repeat against three-time victor Nadal.

DENIS SHAPOVALOV v FELIX AUGER-ALIASSIME

In a nice coincidence, two of Canada's finest young stars meet in a repeat of a 2018 first-round tie. On that occasion, Shapovalov consoled his good friend with a big hug after Auger-Aliassime was forced to retire in the third set with the opening two having been shared. Both men have been tipped for big futures and this one could be a cracker.

STEFANOS TSITSIPAS v ANDREY RUBLEV

Tsitsipas' season has stalled after a brilliant start to 2019 that saw him reach the Australian Open semi-finals, where Nadal proved too big of a hurdle to overcome. A first-round defeat at Wimbledon was the precursor to a difficult hard-court warm-up for the Big Apple, which saw early exits in Montreal and Cincinnati – albeit he did reach the last four in Washington. Rublev was a quarter-finalist in Cincinnati, losing only to in-form Russian compatriot Daniil Medvedev, and as a fellow star of the 2018 Next Gen ATP Finals he will fancy his chances of an upset.

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova face a mouthwatering first-round tie at the US Open, while Novak Djokovic is on the same side of the men's draw as Roger Federer.

Williams will be a heavy favourite given her 19-2 head-to-head record over Sharapova, though it will be the first time the rivals have gone up against each other in New York.

The pair last met on court in the 2016 Australian Open quarter-finals, where Williams was victorious, with a last-16 tie at the 2018 French Open a non-starter due to the American suffering a pectoral injury.

Sharapova has not defeated her illustrious foe in a match since 2004 and faces a monumental challenge against Williams, who was beaten in the final 12 months ago by Naomi Osaka.

Top seed Osaka's bid to defend her title at Flushing Meadows begins against Anna Blinkova, while Kiki Bertens is a potential quarter-final opponent.

Second seed Ashleigh Barty, who made a major breakthrough at Roland Garros, opens up against Zarina Diyas and faces a potential last-eight meeting with Williams.

Karolina Pliskova (3) and Simona Halep (4) each face qualifiers in round one, the latter on a potential last-eight collision course with Petra Kvitova (6). 

Defending men's champion Djokovic, aiming to win a third slam of 2019, faces the unheralded Roberto Carballes Baena first but could be set for a daunting run at Flushing Meadows.

Fifth seed Daniil Medvedev, a man in form having reached the finals in Washington and Montreal while also winning the title in Cincinnati, is Djokovic's projected quarter-final opponent, while Federer may stand in the way in the semis.

Five-time champion Federer faces a qualifier first up, while on the other side of the draw Rafael Nadal has a tricky first-round tie with John Millman – who upset Federer in round four a year ago.

Dominic Thiem, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev could all prove potential road blocks for Nadal in the latter stages.

Coco Gauff built momentum ahead of the US Open by beating Ashleigh Barty in "the calm before the storm" on Wednesday.

Gauff, 15, surged into the limelight by becoming the youngest player in the Open era to advance through Wimbledon qualifying, before beating Venus Williams en route to reaching the fourth round in her first main-draw appearance at a major.

The teenager, who has been awarded a US Open wildcard, took on French Open champion and world number two Barty in an exhibition match during the ATP Tour's Winston-Salem Open and triumphed 6-4 2-6 10-8.

Gauff won four straight games as she took the first set, but the Australian hit back by taking a 3-0 lead in the second that helped her level the contest.

The super tie-break saw Gauff emerge triumphant and she was pleased to have got a solid win under her belt ahead of a first main-draw appearance in her home grand slam at Flushing Meadows.

"It was super fun. It's different to kinda play in an atmosphere like that and not be in a tournament. It was cool to play with Ash and hopefully we can do it again sometime," said Gauff.

"I'm kind of sad to leave [Winston-Salem] because New York is busy but it was good to get the calm before the storm."

Barty added: "It was a lot of fun. Coming here this week was the perfect way to prepare in a relaxing environment and have a little fun. The crowd was truly engaged and it was just the perfect way to get ready for the Open."

The final grand slam tournament of the year is almost here, as the US Open begins at Flushing Meadows on Monday.

Novak Djokovic, the dominant force in men's tennis, will hope to defend his title, while Naomi Osaka is looking to rediscover her best major form at the scene of her first triumph.

Meanwhile, veterans Roger Federer and Serena Williams have records in their sights in New York.

With the help of Opta, we take a look at the key numbers heading into this year's US Open.

 

Men's singles

4 - Djokovic has won four of the past five grand slams – Rafael Nadal claiming the only other title at this year's French Open.

2 - World number one Djokovic is bidding to become just the second man, after Federer (2004 to 2008), to defend his Flushing Meadows title in the 21st century.

35 - The oldest men's US Open champion in the Open Era was Ken Rosewall in 1970 at 35 years, 10 months and 11 days. Federer will be 38 at Flushing Meadows.

5 - Three men have won the tournament a record five times since the sport went professional: Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras and Federer.

8 - Djokovic only has three US Open titles but has played the joint-most finals in the Open Era (eight, along with Ivan Lendl and Sampras).

0 - The US Open is the only one of the four men's grand slams that has not seen a player claim the title without dropping a set in the Open Era.

61 - At least one of Djokovic, Federer or Nadal has made the semi-finals of every major since Wimbledon 2004, a streak of 61 tournaments.

 

Women's singles

3 - Having won back-to-back majors in the shape of last year's US Open and then the Australian Open, Osaka has not been past the third round at her past two grand slams, losing her opener at Wimbledon.

1 - But across the previous 16 grand slams, Osaka is the only female to have won consecutive titles.

33 - Williams, like Federer in the men's tournament, is aiming to become the oldest women's US Open champion of the Open Era at 37. The record belongs to 2015 champion Flavia Pennetta at 33 years, six months and 18 days.

2 - Simona Halep could become the first European since Kim Clijsters (2010 US Open and 2011 Australian Open) to win consecutive grand slams.

24 - Williams has 23 grand slam crowns, the most of the Open Era, and another would see her draw level with all-time record holder Margaret Court.

10 - However, the American has not won any of the past 10 majors - her longest run without victory since 2002.

17 - The women's championship has been won without dropping a set on 17 occasions in the Open Era, most recently by Williams in 2014.

Bronx Open top seed Wang Qiang booked her place in the quarter-finals with a routine straight-sets victory over Fiona Ferro.

Wang, handed a bye in the first round, got her US Open preparations up and running in style, rounding off a 6-1 6-4 win in 68 minutes on Wednesday.

The 27-year-old converted six break points against the world number 72, as she hunts down a third WTA Tour singles title.

"I just tried to build my confidence for this tournament," world number 18 Wang said after her win – her first since a second-round victory over Tamara Zidansek at Wimbledon. "For me, it's preparing for the US Open, so I will try my best this tournament."

Wang will meet Anna Blinkova after the lucky loser overcame Mihaela Buzarnescu 1-6 6-3 6-3.

There were also wins for Magda Linette and Karolina Muchova, who will face each other in the last eight.

Barbora Strycova achieved her best grand slam singles result when she reached the Wimbledon semi-finals, but the Czech is finding it tough to build on last month's unforeseen success.

Strycova lost in the first round of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, and after a first-round bye at the Bronx Open this week the 33-year-old bowed out in her opening singles match.

The third seed – long considered a doubles specialist – was beaten 3-6 6-2 6-1 by American wildcard Bernarda Pera at the WTA International tournament played in the most northerly of New York City's five boroughs. The venue is a short drive from Flushing Meadows, which stages the US Open next week.

Italian Camila Giorgi came through a tough encounter with experienced German Andrea Petkovic, grinding out a 3-6 7-5 7-6 (7-3) success.

Fifth seed Katerina Siniakova was on court for just 48 minutes, leading Anastasia Potapova 6-0 3-0 when the Russian qualifier retired.

It was one of two retirements with Zhu Lin also departing while trailing 7-6 (7-5) 4-0 to Alize Cornet.

American teenager Amanda Anisimova has pulled out of the US Open after her father died.

The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) confirmed the news and said it sent its "deepest condolences" to Anisimova, with fellow players also expressing sadness over the death.

Russian-born Konstantin Anisimov played a key role in coaching his 17-year-old daughter, who reached the French Open semi-finals in June.

No details of his death have been given.

Anisimova is ranked 24th by the WTA, climbing rapidly after beginning the year as the world number 95.

Fellow American teenager Coco Gauff, who Anisimova beat in the girls' singles final at the 2017 US Open, wrote on Twitter: "Deepest condolences to the Anisimova family during this tragic time"

Maria Sharapova was another to express her sorrow at the news.

Anisimova has been out of action recently because of a back injury but was hoping to play the final grand slam of the year.

The tournament begins next Monday, August 26, at Flushing Meadows in Queens, New York.

Coco Vandeweghe's tough return from injury continued with a loss at the Bronx Open, where Andrea Petkovic upset a seed on Monday.

Vandeweghe returned in July after a 10-month injury absence, but the two-time grand slam semi-finalist is still looking for top form.

The American has lost three of four matches since making her comeback, the latest of which was a 6-3 6-0 defeat to lucky loser Anna Blinkova at the WTA International event.

Another former grand slam semi-finalist, Petkovic upset fourth seed Zhang Shuai 6-3 6-4 in the first round.

Petkovic will meet Camila Giorgi after the Italian brushed past Margarita Gasparyan 6-3 6-2.

Three seeds – Katerina Siniakova, Aliaksandra Sasnovich and Karolina Muchova – moved through, while Yulia Putintseva joined Zhang in exiting.

Other first-round winners were Fiona Ferro, Mihaela Buzarnescu, Kristie Ahn, Magda Linette and Anastasia Potapova.

Alize Cornet and Bernarda Pera cruised into the Bronx Open second round on a rain-hit Sunday in New York City.

Cornet recorded a 6-4 6-2 victory over Kateryna Kozlova at the inaugural edition of the WTA International tournament.

The Frenchwoman made it two wins in as many meetings with Kozlova, converting five of seven break points in a dominant showing.

In the day's only other main-draw match, Pera – a wildcard – breezed past Veronika Kudermetova 6-0 6-2.

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