Halep ready for Sharapova battle

Frances Tiafoe US Open

She came agonisingly close to winning a first grand slam title at this year's French Open, losing the final to Jelena Ostapenko from a set and a break up, while she sits just five points adrift of Karolina Pliskova in the battle for world number one.

Sharapova hasn't gotten much sympathy for the French snub. In the past, she's been a little fragile mentally, but at the same time, on paper, you'd have to pick her. She beat fellow Flushing meadows contender Simona Halep (10/1) in the final.

2016 WOMEN'S SINGLES CHAMPION: Angelique Kerber of Germany.

Simona Halep, now ranked #2 among the female players in the world, will face Sharapova in that opening round.

Nadal, a two-time US Open victor, will open against the tough Dusan Lajovic.

"A wild card is given by a tournament and they have the prerogative, " ESPN's Mary Joe Fernandez told The Post. "A lot of great players were not playing tennis at our age", Nadal said. "I don't have a problem either way".

There were many doubts surrounding the Russian's fitness after her long off-court time, but in her first match against Roberta Vinci, Sharapova made it look as if she had never been off the court, winning the match in straight sets to mark the start of her comeback. At 37, she is the oldest woman in the tournament, and is coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon.

Sharapova, making her first Grand Slam appearance since a 15-month doping ban, has a 6-0 career record against Halep, who last Sunday lost for the third time in as many months with a chance to advance to world number one with a victory. But the two haven't met since 2015.

Kerber beat Pliskova in last year's final in NY to reach No. 1. That's how I feel.

Fernandez doesn't expect Sharapova to prevail. She had a tough draw in Washington as she had to face Sloane Stephens in the first round. But it shouldn't happen because of the lack of matches.

"I don't think we're both thinking that far ahead". I did my practice normal. "And doing all of that for me".

The 30-year-old Russian, a victor of five grand slam titles, said she was unaware of the change. I'm sure it will be a nice prospect. "When it comes to tennis, good or bad - there's really only one thing that I know for certain - I've missed it".

Serena Williams' continued absence will leave the championship wide-open as the top stars fight for the major title. "Hopefully that would be a great atmosphere and one again where we play great like at the Australian Open". Pliskova has a good draw.

First duel Nadal/Federer in NY? The surprise French Open champion, however, struggled in Open tune-ups as the pride of Latvia after Kristaps Porzingis.

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.

"The long break a year ago really helped". He could meet sixth-seeded Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.

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