US Open glance: Venus Williams, Sharapova, Cilic in action

Karolina Pliskova

Karolina Pliskova

Finally, she might have to slow it down again in the quarters, where she's slated to play two-time finalist Caroline Wozniacki. But 23 years after she turned professional and 16 years after she won her second of two U.S. Opens, Williams enters this year's Open with a chance to win. And here she was facing her role model, who was aiming to win her fifth title at the All England Club. As she looked set to become the first Ukrainian woman to reach a Grand Slam semi-final at Roland Garros, she suffered perhaps her most heart-breaking career defeat collapsing from 6-3, 5-1 to 6-3, 6-7, 0-6 to Romanian Simona Halep. "I will try to take it as a positive that I was playing so well here past year".

As tension continues to rise in Venezuela with the government and opposition accusing each other of trying to stage a coup, the Caracas-born Spaniard Garbine Muguruza is trying to stage a more bloodless one of her own.

Czech Karolina Pliskova, who lost to Angelique Kerber in last year's final, took over as world No. 1 nearly by default when Halep lost in the Wimbledon quarter-finals - a week after Pliskova had bowed out in round two. Venus nets a forehand and Muguruza saves the first set point.

In 2016, Venus was knocked out in the second round of the doubles, but with grand slam title now on his resume, he'll be expecting to go a lot deeper into the tournament this time round.

Williams started off with a tough three set win in Toronto, eventually battling past Irina-Camelia Begu to win her opening round match, before seeing off Katerina Siniakova in two tight sets to reach the third round. The main thing that puts me off backing her is that she doesn't seem to be able to get through her bad days as often as you'd like and her go-for-broke game means those bad days do come along fairly regularly.

A huge serve, great agility and the flexibility in her game translates to a formidable opponent, who has a very real chance of becoming the new world force in women's tennis.

"I don't know if Wimbledon might have taken so much out of her".

And more "I told you so" s followed. "That's what I can say".

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But there is little normal about this year's U.S. Open, with eight women going into the final grand slam of the year with a chance to come out the other side as the world number one.

Maria Sharapova was granted a wildcard into the championship and I think she'll do okay, but I can't see her winning the tournament.

She never has made any excuses about her Sjogren's, an autoimmune condition she will be living with for the rest of her life. She carried the rhythm & confidence through to the US Hard Court swing, winning the Masters title in Cincinnati and her ball striking & consistency has been phenomenal in the past three months. "So that's what I do".

It is a contest Wimbledon champion Federer, who beat Nadal to win the Australian Open in January, would relish, having also beaten his longtime rival in Indian Wells and Miami this year.

Thinking about recent major upsets on the tennis court, Jelena Ostapenko's victory at the French Open is certainly up there - the Latvian became the first unseeded woman in over 80 years to win the French Open.

There is undoubtedly a pressure to try to live up to the ranking and for Pliskova that means attempting to go one better than a year ago at Flushing Meadows, when she lost to Angelique Kerber in her first grand slam final. "But that is a remarkable quality. That to me has been a quality that's kept them close and allowed Serena to reach her potential". But also like Zverev, she has no history of significant success at the Slams.

"It's always great to have people that you grew up with playing well", Keys said. "I don't care if anybody denies that; they are wrong".

Player to Watch: Venus Williams.

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