US Open preview: Four Britons ready for opening day

Andy Murray set for for US Open

2018 US Open
Dates: 27 August-9 September Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Coverage: Live radio coverage on BBC Radio 5 live text commentaries on the BBC Sport website

Andy Murray is one of four Britons starting their US Open campaigns when the fourth and final major of the year begins in New York on Monday.

The 31-year-old Scot makes his Grand Slam return against Australia’s James Duckworth on the new Louis Armstrong Stadium about 18:00 BST.

British number one Kyle Edmund meets Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi at 16:00, while Cameron Norrie also plays on court 13 against Jordan Thompson at about 20:30.

Heather Watson faces Russian Ekaterina Makarova on court four about 18:00.

Johanna Konta, Britain’s fifth representative, plays French sixth seed Caroline Garcia on Tuesday.

Six-time champion Serena Williams opens the night session at 7pm local time (00:00 BST) on Arthur Ashe Stadium – Flushing Meadows’ imposing 23,700-seater main court – following an on-court performance by American pop star Kelly Clarkson as part of the tournament’s 50th anniversary celebrations.

Following Williams’ match against Poland’s Magda Linette, world number one Rafael Nadal opens the defence of his men’s singles title against fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Former champion Stan Wawrinka starts the day session on Ashe against eighth seed Grigor Dimitrov, with women’s top seed Simona Halep playing on Armstrong before Murray’s match.

Defending champion Sloane Stephens follows Murray on Armstrong, the 14,000-capacity secondary show court which has been rebuilt with a retractable roof and reopens this year, when she plays Russia’s Evgeniya Rodina.

Louis Armstrong Stadium

Konta and Edmund lead British hopes

Konta is the only Briton to have gained direct entry to the women’s draw by virtue of her ranking, but is outside of the seedings after a year during which she has tumbled down the rankings to 46th.

The 27-year-old was the seventh seed at Flushing Meadows last year and could have ended the tournament as the world number one, but lost to unseeded Serb Aleksandra Krunic in the first round.

She has struggled for consistent form since being beaten by Venus Williams in last year’s Wimbledon semi-finals, losing five matches in a row at the end of the year and reaching just one final in 2018.

The American hard-court season has given her some positivity going into the US Open, Konta inflicting a career-worst defeat on Serena Williams in San Jose before beating Grand Slam winners Jelena Ostapenko and Victoria Azarenka in Montreal.

Johanna Konta

Edmund, the highest-ranked Briton in either draw and seeded 16th at the US Open, is looking to at least match his run to the last 16 two years ago.

The 23-year-old Yorkshireman has only managed one victory in three tournaments on the American hard courts, leading to him accepting a wildcard at the Winston-Salem Open, where he lost in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Norrie is the only other Briton to gain direct entry into the main draw, while Watson earned her place on Friday following three victories in qualifying.

Murray comeback set for stern test

Scot Murray pulled out of this year’s Wimbledon on the eve of the Championships, saying he was not ready to compete in five-set matches following surgery in January.

The former world number one, who won his first Slam title at the US Open in 2012, is now ranked 378th in the world but will compete at Flushing Meadows because of his protected ranking.

Murray has played tournaments in Washington and Cincinnati in preparation for the fourth and final major of the tennis season.

He won three matches at the Citi Open in Washington, including a second-round victory over new British number one Edmund, but lost to France’s world number 17 Lucas Pouille in the first round at Cincinnati.

Djokovic aims to equal Sampras tally

Rafael Nadal beat Kevin Anderson in last year's final

Murray is one of seven former US Open champions in the men’s field and all – except perhaps the Briton and wildcard Stan Wawrinka, who is also returning from long-term injury – are expected to be among the main challengers.

Novak Djokovic: After winning his 13th Grand Slam title at Wimbledon last month, the 31-year-old Serb is the favourite to win on his return to Flushing Meadows.

He missed the tournament last year with an elbow injury but his triumphs at SW19 and Cincinnati – where he beat Roger Federer to complete the career ‘Golden Masters’ – show he has recaptured his best form.

Now the sixth seed hopes to match the Grand Slam tally of Pete Sampras, whom he describes as his “biggest role model”.

Rafael Nadal: The world number one has only played in the Rogers Cup since his semi-final defeat by Djokovic at Wimbledon – and won the title.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters last week, saying he wanted to rest his body before the US Open.

Roger Federer: Like Nadal, the 37-year-old Swiss has been smart with his scheduling as he continues to defy the ageing process.

The world number two, a 20-time Grand Slam winner, made his comeback at Cincinnati, reaching the final in his first outing since Wimbledon.

Juan Martin del Potro: When the giant Argentine won the US Open as a 20-year-old in 2009, many expected him to challenge for more Slams over the following years.

His career has been hampered by serious wrist injuries but he has battled back and reached a career-high third in the rankings last week.

Marin Cilic: The 2014 champion has won five matches in his two tournaments on the hard courts, losing to Rafael Nadal in Toronto and Djokovic in Cincinnati.

Graphic showing the men's top 10 ranked players

Williams ‘not going to New York to lose’

Despite reaching the Wimbledon final, where she lost to Angelique Kerber, Serena Williams says she is still at the start of a “long comeback”.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion is seeded 17th at Flushing Meadows, moving up from her world ranking of 26 to take into account tournaments she missed while she was pregnant with daughter Olympia, who was born last September.

Williams fell to the heaviest defeat of her career against Konta in San Jose last month, later revealing she discovered shortly before the match that the man convicted of killing her half-sister had been released on parole.

The 36-year-old American is bidding for a seventh US Open title.

“I’m not going in there thinking I’m going to lose. That’s not being Serena. That’s being someone else,” she said.

Which other women will challenge?

Simona Halep

Simona Halep: The world number one lifted her first Grand Slam trophy at the French Open in June which, according to the legendary Martina Navratilova, has increased the 26-year-old Romanian’s confidence and belief. However the Romanian’s preparation has been disrupted by a heel injury that forced her withdrawal from the final warm-up event in Connecticut.

“I think Halep’s new confidence and attitude are going to make her more proactive during rallies, and that’s going to help her to play better on the US Open hard courts,” Navratilova told the WTA.

Sloane Stephens: The defending champion has a formidable record on the North American hard courts, having won 32 matches and lost eight on the surface in the past year.

The 25-year-old American, who is ranked third in the world, is aiming to become only the fourth woman to retain the title since 2000 after the Williams sisters and Kim Clijsters.

Angelique Kerber: Current form and past pedigree mark out the Wimbledon champion as one of the main contenders.

Only Halep stands above of her in the year-to-date rankings as the 30-year-old German continues her renaissance under Konta’s former coach Wim Fissette, and the 2016 champion has already shown she can win at Flushing Meadows.

Caroline Wozniacki: Like Halep, the world number two won her first Slam this year – with victory at the Australian Open in January. But she has been unable to build on that in recent months.

An early exit at Wimbledon has been followed by a knee injury which forced the 28-year-old Dane to retire during the recent Cincinnati Masters – not the ideal build-up as she aims to go one better than runner-up finishes in 2009 and 2014.

Graphic showing the women's top 10 ranked players

Schedule of play (all start times BST)

Monday, 27 August: Round one (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Tuesday, 28 August: Round one (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Wednesday, 29 August: Round two (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Thursday, 30 August: Round two (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Friday, 31 August: Round three (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Saturday, 1 September: Round three (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Sunday, 2 September: Round four (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Monday, 3 September: Round four (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Tuesday, 4 September: Quarter-finals (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Wednesday, 5 September: Quarter-finals (day session 16:00, night session 00:00)

Thursday, 6 September: Women’s semi-finals (00:00)

Friday, 7 September: Men’s semi-finals (21:00)

Saturday, 8 September: Women’s final (21:00)

Sunday, 9 September: Men’s final (21:00)

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