Canada’s Fernandez draws France’s Dodin in 1st round as U.S. Open draw is finalized


Leylah Fernandez and Bianca Andreescu learned their first-round opponents at the 2022 U.S. Open Thursday as the Canadians look to make another deep run at the final tennis major of the season.

Fernandez, the highest seeded Canadian woman at No. 14, opens against France’s Oceane Dodin

The 19-year-old of Laval, Que., advanced to the final of last year’s U.S. Open before losing to fellow teen Emma Raducanu of Britain in straight sets.

Fernandez’s run to the 2021 final included wins over defending champion Naomi Osaka, fifth seed Elina Svitolina and second seed Aryna Sabalenka.

The Canadian’s quarter of the bracket includes second seed Anett Kontaveit and 23-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams, who will be making her final appearance at the tournament.

Andreescu, who beat Williams in the 2019 final, opens against France’s Harmony Tan.

Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino will take on 24-year-old Magdalena Frech of Poland. The two are evenly matched with Frech ranking 104th to Marino’s ranking of 112th.

The winner will be in tough in the second round, with No. 7-ranked Simona Halep of Romania waiting after her first-round bye.

On the men’s side, Denis Shapovalov drew Switzerland’s Marc-Andrea Huesler, ranked 99th in the world, whereas world No. 6 Felix Auger-Aliassime’s opponent will be determined in qualifying.

Serena’s swan song

Serena Williams’ first opponent at what is expected to be the last tournament of her career, the U.S. Open, will be Danka Kovinic.

Win that, and Williams could face No. 2 seed Anett Kontaveit of Estonia in the second round.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion, who turns 41 on Sept. 26, announced this month she was preparing to step away from her playing career. She did not explicitly say when she planned to stop but made it sound as if the U.S. Open would mark her farewell.

Williams has won the hard-court tournament in Flushing Meadows six times.

She is just 1-3 this season, having recently returned to singles action after a year away following a first-round injury exit at Wimbledon in 2021.

Her first match back came at the All England Club in late June, and she lost her opener there in a third-set tiebreaker to 115th-ranked Harmony Tan.

Kovinic is a 27-year-old from Montenegro who is 80th in the WTA rankings this week and has been as high as 46th. Williams and Kovinic have never played each other in singles.

After winning a match at a tournament in Toronto, Williams was eliminated in straight sets there by Tokyo Olympics gold medallist Belinda Bencic, then lost again in straight sets at Cincinnati against reigning U.S. Open champion Emma Raducanu.

Because Williams has said she’s preparing to wind down her tennis career, her every move will be the focus at the start of the U.S. Open.

While Williams has spent more than 300 weeks at No. 1, her lack of activity has contributed to a slide; she is 410th this week.

That meant she would not be seeded in New York and could have been placed anywhere in the field — and against any player.

Other possible opponents for Williams, should she progress through the tournament, include No. 27 seed Martina Trevisan of Italy in the third round and 2021 U.S. Open runner-up Fernandez or 2021 French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova of the Czech Republic in the fourth.

She could face her sister Venus only in the final, because they are on opposite sides of the bracket.

Brackets set

No. 1 Iga Swiatek, a two-time French Open champion, will meet Jasmine Paolini in the first round, while Raducanu will begin her title defense against Alize Cornet.

Potential quarter-finals are Swiatek vs. No. 8 Jessica Pegula, and No. 4 Paula Badosa vs. No. 6 Aryna Sabalenka on the top half of the field, and Kontaveit — or, perhaps, Williams — vs. Wimbledon runner-up Ons Jabeur, and No. 3 Maria Sakkari vs. No. 7 Simona Halep or French Open runner-up Coco Gauff on the bottom half.

Shortly before the draw announcement, some expected news arrived: Novak Djokovic tweeted that he would not be in New York for the U.S. Open.

The 35-year-old from Serbia, who owns 21 Grand Slam titles, is not vaccinated against COVID-19. Foreign citizens who have not received the shot are not allowed to enter the United States.

In the men’s draw, defending champion Daniil Medvedev is seeded No. 1 — the first Grand Slam event since 2004 in which Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer or Andy Murray didn’t hold that spot. He will start by taking on Stefan Kozlov of the United States.

No. 2 Nadal, whose 22 Grand Slam titles are a record for a man, was drawn to face Australian wild-card recipient Rinky Hijikata.

Potential men’s quarter-finals are Medvedev vs. No. 6 Auger-Aliassime, No. 4 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 5 Casper Ruud in what would be a matchup between the past two French Open runners-up, Nadal vs. No. 7 Cam Norrie, and No. 3 Carlos Alcaraz vs. No. 8 Hubert Hurkacz.

Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios, who is seeded No. 23, could meet Medvedev in the fourth round. In the first round, Kyrgios will play his fellow Australian, good friend and doubles partner Thanasi Kokkinakis.





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