Darren Cahill says there is "no question" Serena Williams can end her grand slam drought as she attempts to banish the memories of last year's US Open meltdown.

Williams has lost all three major finals and failed to win a tournament since giving birth to her first child two years ago.

She was once again unable to match Margaret Court's record of 24 major singles titles when Simona Halep dismantled her in the decider at Wimbledon last month.

Angelique Kerber beat Williams in the final at the All England Club 12 months earlier and the 37-year-old had a run-in with chair umpire Carlos Ramos as she was denied a seventh triumph on home soil by Naomi Osaka at Flushing Meadows last September.

The former world number one has not won a grand slam since the 2017 Australian Open, but is favourite to draw level with Court in New York next month.

Williams will face old foe Maria Sharapova in a mouthwatering first-round clash and Cahill, Halep's former coach, feels it is a matter of time before one of the all-time greats adds to her haul.

Cahill, an ESPN commentator at the final major of the year, told Omnisport: "There is no question she can win more majors, you do not make the final of grand slams, playing the tennis she has played and not be capable of going that extra step and winning them.

"She came into a couple of hot players: Osaka here was playing great last year and she was going to be tough to beat and we saw what she went on to do at the Australian Open. Simona then played out of the best matches of her life at Wimbledon.

"She's made three grand slam finals since becoming a mum and that's a remarkable achievement in itself.

"Anybody else in the world would be incredibly satisfied and proud of what she's been able to do. I'm sure she's proud anyway, but I'm sure she's incredibly hungry to add to her tally of grand slam titles and I'm sure she will."

Novak Djokovic says Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have made a "great impact" since rejoining the ATP player council and welcomed a shorter meeting with the legendary duo in New York on Friday.

Federer and Nadal returned to the council this month in what has been a turbulent year politically on the men's tour.

Djokovic revealed in June that he considered joining a mass player council exodus because the governance structure is so inefficient and he feels seven-hour meetings are "unacceptable".

The world number one and head of the council has welcomed Federer and Nadal's decision to step up after they held talks ahead of the US Open.

Djokovic said at Flushing Meadows: "The impact is already great because they are the legends of our sport and two big names joining the council.

"There's already been a big impact on the rest of the players in the council, of course the larger group of tennis players in general, knowing that these two guys are willing to contribute, to come in to help out, to support, to participate in discussions and some decision-making.

"It was interesting. It has never happened that you have one, two, and three of the world in [a] council group that is [a] group of 10 players. So, all I hear from other players is positive comments about it.

"And it went well. They were very engaged. So, I'm looking forward to working with them."

Asked if it was not another seven-hour meeting, he added: "It wasn't and actually, that's why it was very surprising, to be honest.

"Because the last two before last night, the last two meetings we had were six and seven hours. And this [on Friday] was two, two hours 15 minutes. Because it was well prepared prior to the meeting, and we still didn't go through a full agenda. Of course, that's what happens most of the time.

"It's good that we at least are doing also work prior to sitting down so we could have a more efficient meeting."

Former US Open finalist Kevin Anderson will not play at Flushing Meadows next week due to a right knee injury, the United States Tennis Association has announced.

World number 17 Anderson was beaten Rafael Nadal in the 2017 final in New York, while he lost at the same stage at Wimbledon to Novak Djokovic in 2018.

But the South African's hopes of a breakthrough grand slam title have been ended for another year after he was forced to withdraw from the US Open two days before his tournament opener.

Anderson has played just 15 matches on the ATP Tour this season and has not featured since Wimbledon.

He had been drawn as the 16th seed at Flushing Meadows, but lucky loser Paolo Lorenzi will take his place against 16-year-old American Zachary Svajda.

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.

There stood Roger Federer, already among the greats and with a fifth straight US Open title secured.

It was 2008 and the Swiss star had just passed Roy Emerson on the all-time list of major winners, securing his 13th and continuing his dominance at Flushing Meadows with a straight-sets victory over Andy Murray in the final.

Novak Djokovic had won his first grand slam in Melbourne at the start of the year and Rafael Nadal was still unbeaten at Roland Garros, the Spaniard then going on to clinch his first Wimbledon title.

It marked the third straight year in which the 'Big Three' had swept the grand slams, a feat they are looking to repeat 11 years later.

How little has changed entering the 2019 US Open, which starts on Monday.

Federer (three), Nadal (four) and Djokovic (four) have won the past 11 majors and still we wait for the 'Next Gen' to break through as the three greatest male players of all-time continue to dominate.

Murray's career-interrupting hip injury reduced the 'Big Four' to the 'Big Three' and there is no sign of anyone taking the three-time grand slam champion's place of being a consistent challenger at majors.

The years 2006 to 2008 marked the years of Federer and Nadal, and 2018-19 have been Djokovic's. The Serbian could finish this year having won three grand slams in a season.

In between, anticipated contenders have come and gone (Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic are 28) or come and been consistent without breaking through (Kei Nishikori is 29).

Stan Wawrinka was a regular star and won three grand slams before his injury woes, while Marin Cilic and Juan Martin del Potro took their chances at Flushing Meadows in 2014 and 2009 respectively.

Another so-called 'Next Gen' – the likes of David Goffin (28) and Jack Sock (26) – has been replaced, while Dominic Thiem (25) looks the likeliest challenger to Nadal at Roland Garros.

Now emerges another group in Daniil Medvedev (23), Alexander Zverev (22), Stefanos Tsitsipas (21), Karen Khachanov (23) and Borna Coric (22).

Yet it remains hard to see the final verdict on 2019 not simply echoing that of 2008 as the 'Big Three' bid to complete another major sweep.

Rafael Nadal does not believe he has an advantage heading into the US Open after he was drawn away from Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic.

World number two Nadal was placed in the bottom half of the draw, and cannot meet Federer or Djokovic until the final should he get that far.

However, the Spaniard shrugged off any suggestion he holds an edge going into the final grand slam of 2019.

"I don't know. I have to win my matches to have an advantage because I only can meet them after the semi-finals," Nadal said.

"I have plenty of work before that to know if I have an advantage or not. So let's see if I am able to do my work.

"That's not an advantage or disadvantage. That's part of the draw. That's part of the things that happen when you are No.1, No.2 and No.3.

"For example, at Wimbledon it was the other way. They changed. Now here is the opposite. Let's see what's going on."

Second seed Nadal opens his campaign against John Millman, who knocked Federer out in the fourth round at Flushing Meadows in 2018.

Thanasi Kokkinakis, who also upset Federer last season, and Fernando Verdasco are potential second and third-round opponents. 

Dominic Thiem – seeded fourth – could meet Nadal in the semi-final, in what would be a repeat of the French Open final, as well as an epic quarter-final from last season's US Open.

"He is the No.4 now. Every year he's improving," Nadal said of the 25-year-old Austrian.

"Already this year he won a Masters 1000 on hard. He played again the final in Roland Garros. Every day he is a very solid, and every year is more solid.

"He has everything to win important events. He already is winning important events. He's a very, very hard worker. Just a question of time that he achieve all his goals."

Roger Federer thinks being "knocked down" by Andrey Rublev in the Western & Southern Open prompted him to get his "act together" and could enhance his chances of winning the US Open.

Russian Rublev consigned the 20-time grand slam singles champion to a straight-sets defeat in the third round in Cincinnati last week.

Federer believes that early exit in his last tournament before the final grand slam of the year could prove to be a blessing in disguise as he eyes a first Flushing Meadows triumph for 11 years after losing a classic Wimbledon final to Novak Djokovic last month.

"What I'm very proud of is I've had a very consistent last year and a half, two years, ever since my back locked up on me in Montreal. I struggled here as well, struggled for quite a while." said the Swiss legend.

"I've been playing well. Playing well in slams recently, which has been great. I think also the win over Rafa [Nadal] in the semis was big for me. Also the finals, the way I played that in Wimbledon, is going to give me some extra confidence.

"I'm happy where my game is at. Cincinnati might be a good thing that I lost early, who knows. It's maybe one of those things that sometimes needs to happen, like when I won at the Australian Open, went to Dubai, lost first round in 2017, then went on to win Indian Wells and Miami.

"Maybe the same thing, I played a great Wimbledon. Needed to get knocked down in Cincy, get my act together, train hard. That's what I did. I'm ready for the US Open. The draw is out, see which qualifier I will play.

"It's going to be a tough tournament to win, no doubt about it. I feel like I'm part of that group who can do it."

For the vast majority of the 21st century, grand slam finals have largely been the domain of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

Their dominance, shared somewhat with Andy Murray, has defined the modern era of the men's game. However, it has been most regularly interrupted at the US Open, which starts on Monday.

Marin Cilic and Stan Wawrinka have each prevailed in the past five years at Flushing Meadows, with Kei Nishikori, Kevin Anderson and Juan Martin del Potro all reaching the final in that time.

The most likely outcome remains that the men's final will be contested by at least one of the big three but, ahead of the final major of 2019, we examine some of the contenders to gatecrash the showpiece.

Daniil Medvedev

The world number five is enjoying a breakthrough year and heads to Flushing Meadows as one of the form players on the ATP Tour. He reached successive finals at the Citi Open and Rogers Cup, easing past the likes of Dominic Thiem and Karen Khachanov en route to the showpiece of the latter.

His heavy 6-3 6-0 defeat to Nadal in that final may have provided cause for reticence. However, Medvedev continued his outstanding US hard-court swing by coming from a set down to defeat Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open, before going on to beat David Goffin in the final.

His fightback against the best player in the world should raise confidence he can upset the established order. It will be tougher over five sets but on current form Medvedev appears the most credible threat to the big three.

Karen Khachanov

Khachanov's year has not been quite as impressive as his Russian compatriot Medvedev. However, he too resides in the top 10 and has a victory over Djokovic to his name, having beaten the Serbian in the Paris Masters final last year.

He was impressive in seeing off Stan Wawrinka, rising star Felix Auger-Aliassime and Alexander Zverev at the Rogers Cup and showed signs he could form a grand slam challenge at his run to the quarter-finals of the French Open this year.

Marat Safin, the last Russian man to win a grand slam, was Khachanov's idol growing up. He has the game to potentially emulate his hero, but a 1-8 record against the big three will leave plenty sceptical of his prospects.

Dominic Thiem

Though not in the same vein of form as Medvedev, Thiem deserves his place on the list having been the most consistent challenger to Djokovic, Nadal and Federer in recent times.

He has reached the last two French Open finals, losing to Nadal on each occasion. However, he defeated Djokovic in five sets at Roland Garros this year and played at a level in the final that would have seen him victorious were he facing anyone other than the 'King of Clay'.

The hard court provides more of a level playing field and Nadal needed a tie-break to beat him in five sets in the quarter-final at Flushing Meadows in 2018. Thiem also holds a 4-2 record against Federer, whom he beat at Indian Wells this year. 

Eventually, Thiem's persistence in pushing this legendary trio to the limit will pay off and there is plenty of evidence to suggest the US Open could be the stage on which he reaps his rewards.

Roberto Bautista Agut

While the other four names on this list have their best years ahead of them, Bautista Agut is arguably enjoying an elongated peak.

He was a quarter-finalist at the Australian Open, where he showed his endurance with three five-set victories and pushed Djokovic to four sets in the Wimbledon semi-finals.

The 31-year-old has since found some consistency on the hard court, reaching the last eight in Montreal and Cincinnati, and came from a set down to beat Djokovic in Miami back in March.

That win, however, marked his only success against a big-three opponent. Bautista Agut has proven he can reach the latter stages of majors but, if the draw does not somehow open up for him, would need to overcome the history books to earn a first slam final berth.

Lucas Pouille

Pouille's thrilling 2016 fourth-round triumph over Nadal at Flushing Meadows had the look of a breakthrough moment for the Frenchman, but since then he has not been able to record a single victory over the Spaniard, Djokovic or Federer.

The 25-year-old does, however, seem to enjoy himself on the hard court, securing the best slam result of his career on the surface as he progressed to the last four at the Australian Open before running into a rampant Djokovic.

He beat Khachanov before being thumped by Djokovic in Cincinnati and, though he has endured an inconsistent year, the high-points Pouille has experienced should leave him with nobody to fear outside of the three favourites. 

Pouille is unquestionably an outsider, but if he can harness the form that saw him stun Nadal then he can at least afford to have hope of pulling off another shock and giving France a grand slam finalist to celebrate.

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.

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.

Andy Murray has announced he will not compete at the US Open after deciding not to play in the doubles competition.

The former world number one had already ruled himself out of the singles and on Friday he confirmed he would not take part at Flushing Meadows at all.

Murray, who won the tournament in 2012, said his focus would now fall squarely on the singles discipline after making several doubles and mixed doubles outings on his road to recovery from hip surgery, including appearing alongside Serena Williams at Wimbledon.

"I'm not going to play doubles at the US Open," the Briton, who will play singles at Winston-Salem next week, told BBC Sport.

"My goal is to get back playing at the level that I want to on the singles court, and I've decided that I need to focus all my energies on that right now.

"The US Open, doubles and mixed, can be another couple of weeks that you are slowing things down."

Murray underwent a hip operation in January and has been carefully managing his schedule ever since, with retirement having been on the cards before the procedure.

"It doesn't feel like I need to play the main draw of every single tour event," he said.

"I've hardly played the last couple of years and, having discussed with my team, after this week I think doubles is done for me for the time being.

"I need to focus my mind on getting matches on the singles court. There aren't many tournaments between now and the end of the year."

The US Open begins on August 26.

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