Federer fit for US Open as Halep braces for Sharapova test

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams

US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 Aug-10 Sept
BBC coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches every day.

Roger Federer will head into next week’s US Open feeling optimistic he has overcome his injury concerns.

The Swiss, 36, struggled with a back problem as he lost to Alexander Zverev in Montreal two weeks ago.

But the third seed has been practising freely in New York and said: “I’m really happy how I’m feeling.”

A hip injury has seen Andy Murray join Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori on the list of absentees.

That leaves Federer and top seed Rafael Nadal as the clear favourites, with the pair in line for a potential semi-final meeting.

Federer has a 35-3 record this year, having taken his Grand Slam tally to 19 titles with wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

His hopes of winning a sixth US Open, and first since 2008, suffered a blow with the third of those defeats against Zverev in Montreal two weeks ago.

A back problem restricted Federer in the final but he has recovered sufficiently to face American teenager Frances Tiafoe in the first round at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

“Two weeks after the finals [in Montreal] is a long time, so because you’ve got two weeks you can take your time,” said the Swiss.

“So the first week was really just trying to feel better, get better, get back on the court at some stage. I have been on the practice courts since last week. There you have it.

“I have been playing sets the last few days, and I’m really happy how I’m feeling.”

If Federer and Nadal were to make it through to the semi-finals it would be their first ever meeting at the US Open.

“I’d be happy to play him here,” said Federer. “We never played in New York, so I think that would be fun for everybody involved. I don’t think we are both thinking that far ahead.”

Nadal, who plays Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in the first round, said: “A lot of points and games to play, so now is not the moment to think about that.

“For me, I think about Lajovic. That’s my goal.”

‘How is this possible?’ – Halep on facing Sharapova

Simona Halep

The tie of the first round in New York pits Romania’s world number two Simona Halep against 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in Monday’s night session.

The Russian, 30, returns to Grand Slam action for the first time since completing a 15-month anti-doping suspension.

Halep is one of eight women in with a chance of ending the tournament as world number one, but the 25-year-old has a 0-6 record against Sharapova.

Asked how she felt when she heard the draw, Halep said: “My reaction was normal, because this year I had very tough draws every time almost.

“Of course it was a little bit like, ‘How is this possible again? Just first round of a Grand Slam.’ But I felt OK.”

Sharapova is currently ranked 147th and required a wildcard from the United States Tennis Association – something she was refused at the French Open in May.

“About the wildcard, the tournament decided, so they can do anything they want,” said Halep. “It’s not my position to talk about this.

“She’s coming back. She’s strong enough to come back, in my opinion. She has a lot of experience, and also many tournaments won.

“So I think she’s OK. It’s going to be a big challenge, first round of Grand Slam to face her. She beat me six times. So maybe I will change this. We will see Monday.”

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Murray withdraws from US Open

Breaking news

Britain’s Andy Murray has withdrawn from the US Open because of an ongoing hip injury.

“Its too sore for me to win the tournament and ultimately that’s what I was here to try and do,” the world number two said.

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Johanna Konta: The 'massive rollercoaster fan' is hoping to avoid ups and downs at the US Open

Johanna Konta

US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 Aug-10 Sept
BBC coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches every day.

Johanna Konta is all about the preparation – whether it be a Grand Slam match or a trip to the funfair.

The British number one will resume her quest for a first major title at the US Open next week, with Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic, the world number 77, her first-round opponent.

Konta arrived in the US after finding time for some extra-curricular activities following her Wimbledon breakthrough.

A backstage pass for her favourite band U2 – “Bono kissed my hand, I haven’t washed it!” – could have been matched for excitement by a rare theme-park visit, if only she had got her strategy right.

“I’m a massive rollercoaster fan,” said the 26-year-old.

“I went in Cincinnati – really, really frustrated with my approach to it. I should have gone really early in the morning and got a fast-pass, because I only got on five rides in four hours.

“The last one I queued for an hour and, oh my goodness, it sucks the life out of you.”

That appears to be about as stressful as things have got for Konta recently, despite a nerve-jangling run through Wimbledon that ended with defeat by Venus Williams in the semi-finals.

After climbing the rankings spectacularly from 147th to inside the world’s top 10 in two years, widespread national recognition finally came with that thrilling run at the All England Club.

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Konta glows with pride when the television audience of 7.4 million viewers – the largest of Wimbledon 2017 – for her quarter-final win over Simona Halep is mentioned, but there has apparently been no hangover.

“It was probably my easiest Wimbledon experience, which was very interesting,” she said.

“I felt I did a very good job of digesting each match and each day very separately, and I was able to move on and recover for the next day.

“I didn’t feel like I had this big build-up of emotion, so once I came to the end of the championships I felt I was ready for the next one.”

The next one was in fact an opening-match defeat by Ekaterina Makarova in Toronto, before Konta won two matches in Cincinnati and eventually succumbed to world number two Halep.

“I think the quality of matches has been good,” said the Briton.

“Obviously the volume of matches – I could have gotten more, but I’m also happy I got have four great matches coming in.”

Konta has 36 wins and more than £2m in prize money to her name already this year, cementing her place in the top 10 and closing in on a debut appearance at the season-ending WTA Finals for the top eight players in the world.

However, shock results abound in a women’s tour that is notable for the even spread of talent, especially in the absence of an all-time great in Serena Williams.

Konta needed to find her very best as early as the second round at Wimbledon, eventually beating Donna Vekic, the world number 52, 10-8 in the final set.

“I really believe that it’s been that way for some time now,” she said.

“There haven’t been easy matches for quite some time and I think it’s a good thing that people start appreciating and actually noticing it.

“It’s a very exciting thing as a spectator coming to a Slam and knowing you’re going to have great matches all the way through and not just from the semi-finals.

“I think that’s a very positive thing for the sport in general.”

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In line with many of her peers, Konta refuses to look past her first opponent and deeper into the draw, but she thrives on hard courts and there is every reason to believe she can improve on her fourth-round efforts of the past two years at Flushing Meadows.

She could even end the tournament as world number one, given an especially outlandish set of results, but that prospect is greeted with laughter, at least for now.

A gruelling two weeks lie ahead if Konta is to become the first British woman to win a major singles title since Virginia Wade 40 years ago.

“I approach every tournament from the get-go that it’s going to be tough and I accept that fact,” said Konta.

“I’m not looking for any confirmation or any relief because I’ve accepted the fact that from my first match, I’m going to have a tough battle.”

At least she can look forward to some more light relief when the day job is done, with a trip to Harry Potter World on the cards when her sister visits London in November.

It will be hard to live up to meeting her idols at last month’s U2 concert in Dublin, however.

“I got to meet Bono and The Edge before the show,” said Konta.

“I got invited backstage and intercepted them while they were heading to physio, which was so cool for me to hear – that they were doing physio!

“I was literally like, ‘Oh my god, they know my name!’ It was definitely a life-made moment.”

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US Open draw: Andy Murray faces Tennys Sandgren, Johanna Konta draws Aleksandra Krunic

Johanna Konta

British number one Andy Murray will face American world number 104 Tennys Sandgren in the first round of the US Open, while Johanna Konta will play Serbia’s Aleksandra Krunic.

Konta, whose opponent is ranked 77, may face Simona Halep in the third round, a repeat of the Wimbledon quarter-final.

However, the Romanian world number two will have to overcome wildcard Maria Sharapova at the first hurdle.

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are seeded to meet in the men’s semi-final.

Federer will start against American youngster Francis Tiafoe and new world number one Nadal faces world number 84 Dusan Lajovic of Serbia.

British number two Kyle Edmund is up against Dutch veteran Robin Haase.

The women’s defending champion, Germany’s Angelique Kerber, will take on Naomi Osaka of Japan but Stan Wawrinka, who beat Novak Djokovic in last year’s final, is one of several high-profile absentees, including Djokovic.

Wimbledon champion and world number three Garbine Muguruza of Spain will play Varvara Lepchenko of the US.

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Winston-Salem Open: Great Britain's Kyle Edmund reaches semi-finals

Kyle Edmund

Kyle Edmund beat Steve Johnson to reach the semi-finals of the Winston-Salem Open.

The British number two, 22, came from a set down to defeat American world number 46 Johnson 5-7 6-3 6-3 in North Carolina.

Edmund, 45th in the rankings, will play Bosnian Damir Dzumhur or South Korea’s Hyeon Chung in the last four.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Cameron Norrie is one victory from the US Open after his latest victory in qualifying.

The 22-year-old world number 226 beat Sekou Bangoura 6-4 7-5 in the second round of qualifying and will now play Japanese 33-year-old Go Soeda, ranked 131, for a place in the first round proper.

Later on Thursday, Naomi Broad plays Cagla Buyukakcay of Turkey in the second round of qualifying for the women’s event, with fellow Briton Katie Boulter facing Montenegrin Danka Kovinic.

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US Open: Milos Raonic withdraws because of wrist injury

Milos Raonic

US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 August – 10 September
Coverage: Commentary on BBC Radio 5 live and Radio 5 live sports extra, plus live text commentary on the BBC Sport website

World number 11 Milos Raonic is the latest high-profile player to pull out of the US Open, which starts on Monday.

Canadian Raonic, 26, has withdrawn because of a persistent wrist injury but said that he planned to return to action before the end of 2017.

Defending champion Stan Wawrinka is unable to defend his singles title at Flushing Meadows because of a knee injury.

Novak Djokovic (elbow) and Victoria Azarenka will also be absent.

Belarusian Azarenka, 28, is missing the final Grand Slam of the year because of an “ongoing family situation”.

World number 10 Kei Nishikori is also out after tearing a tendon in his right wrist.

Raonic said he was unable give “full effort” as a result of his injury.

“I have too much respect for the US Open and my fellow competitors to take a spot in the draw when I know I cannot give full effort due to this injury,” he said.

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Edmund through to Winston-Salem Open quarter-final

Kyle Edmund

Britain’s Kyle Edmund is through to the quarter-finals of the Winston-Salem Open after a straight sets win over Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics.

British number two Edmund, 22, beat world number 122 Fucsovics 6-2 6-1 in North Carolina.

Edmund, 45th in the rankings, will play world number 46 Steve Johnson in the next round.

Meanwhile, Britain’s Laura Robson lost 6-2 6-4 to Russian Alla Kudryavtseva in the first round of US Open qualifying.

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Boris Becker: Three-time Wimbledon champion gets senior Germany role

Boris Becker

Three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker has been appointed head of men’s tennis in Germany.

The 49-year-old, who won six Grand Slams between 1985 and 1996, will take up the new role immediately, the German federation (DTB) announced.

Becker was also Davis Cup coach for Germany from 1997 to 1999.

“In this position he will be in charge of the entire men’s game,” Ulrich Klaus, the president of the DTB, told a news conference.

Listen: Boris Becker – teenage Wimbledon king

Becker had a successful spell coaching former world number one Novak Djokovic from 2013 to 2016, a period in which the Serb won six of his 12 Grand Slam titles.

However, Becker was declared bankrupt by a court in London in June after failing to pay a long-standing debt to UK-based private bankers since 2015.

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Winston-Salem Open: GB's Kyle Edmund through, Aljaz Bedene out

Kyle Edmund

Kyle Edmund is through to the third round of the Winston-Salem Open after beating Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, but fellow Briton Aljaz Bedene is out.

British number two Edmund, 22, overcame Medvedev 2-6 6-2 7-6 (8-6) in North Carolina and will play either Marton Fucsovics or Joao Sousa in the last 16.

Bedene, ranked 48th in the world – three places below Edmund – lost 6-4 7-5 to Italy’s Andreas Seppi.

Britain’s Brydan Klein lost in the first round of US Open qualifying.

The 27-year-old, ranked 169th in the world, was beaten 6-3 3-6 7-6 by France’s Vincent Millot.

But fellow Briton Cameron Norrie advanced to the second qualifying round, beating Kazakhstan’s Alexander Bublik 6-2 6-2.

The US Open starts in New York on 28 August.

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Azarenka pulls out of US Open over 'family situation'

Breaking news

Former world number one Victoria Azarenka will miss the US Open because of an “ongoing family situation”.

The Belarusian returned to tennis in June after giving birth to her son, Leo, in December.

Azarenka, 28, separated from his father in July and last week she issued a statement saying she could only play in the tournament “if I leave Leo behind”.

More to follow.

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