Roger Federer in action during his match against Lukas Lacko at Wimbledon on July 4, 2018, in London


Liguori: Everything You Need To Know Heading Into Day 1 Of US Open

Federer, Serena Look To Make History

Ann Liguori
August 27, 2018 - 8:51 am

The U.S. Open, the highest-attended annual sporting event in our country, begins Monday and continues for 14 days, culminating with the men’s final on Sept. 9.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Open as we know it, although it has been held annually for 138 straight years. Before 1968, it was known as the U.S. National Championships, which were first held in 1881. Only the Kentucky Derby, first held in 1875, predates the U.S. Open in terms of American sporting events.

For those who may not know the history, the U.S. Open moved from Forest Hills to the hard courts of Flushing in 1978. From 1975-77, the tournament was played on clay, and before that, on grass.

The most notable addition this year at the U.S. Open is the brand new Louis Armstrong Stadium court that seats 14,069 and has a retractable roof. Before the Arthur Ashe Stadium court was constructed in 1997, the Louis Armstrong court was the showcase court. I’ll never forget the press box that sat atop one side of the court, a long, narrow, metal-enclosed space where hundreds of journalists and broadcasters rubbed elbows because it was jam-packed. The structure seemed so fragile -- it shook in heavy rainstorms. But it was such an intimate stadium. Spectators felt so close to the tennis action. Being that close made the atmosphere that much more intense and exciting.  

MORE: Zverev Leads Group Of Up-And-Comers In US Open

Other innovations for this year’s U.S. Open on all courts include a 25-second serve clock, a five-minute warm-up clock, electronic line calling and broadcast coverage on all courts.

Roger Federer is vying for his 21st Grand Slam singles title and a record sixth U.S. Open title. Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras both won five as well. At 37, Federer would be the oldest champ by two years over Ken Rosewall. Rosewall was 35 when he won the U.S. Open title in 1970.

Defending champ Rafael Nadal is seeded No. 1. Federer is seeded No. 2. Quite extraordinary is that Nadal and Federer have never played each other in the U.S. Open. Six times, they were only one match away from facing each other.

Federer is in the same quarter as two-time U.S. Open champ Novak Djokovic, who won Wimbledon this year and who has regained his top form.   

Federer has said he thinks Nadal and Djokovic are the favorites.

And watch out for Juan Martin del Potro, seeded third, a crowd favorite. The Argentinian and 2009 U.S. Open champ is healthy and eager to win another at this, his favorite, major. Seeded third, he’s in the top half of the draw and will start with a match against American qualifier Donald Young.

Six-time U.S. Open champion Serena Williams was given the No. 17 seed this year by the USTA despite being ranked 26th in the world. The 36-year-old hopes to capture her first major title since returning to the courts after the birth of her daughter. She missed last year’s U.S. Open while pregnant.

Williams reached the finals at Wimbledon this year. Serena is looking to win her 24th major title, which would tie her with Margaret Court for the most Grand Slam singles titles, male or female.

Serena Williams in action during her match against Ashleigh Barty on May 31, 2018, at Roland Garros in Paris.

Williams will be featured as the opening match in Monday’s evening session on the Arthur Ashe Stadium court, starting at 7 p.m. She’ll face Magda Linette of Poland, ranked 60th in the world. That will be followed by Nadal playing fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

And Venus Williams, at 38 years, 2 months and 10 days of age, is the oldest player in the draw. She will be the second match on the Ashe Court during the day session, playing Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia, the 2004 U.S. Open champ.

Serena and Venus could play each other in a third-round matchup that would be their earliest Grand Slam encounter in 20 years. If that pans out, the winner from that match would then have to face the top-ranked female, Simona Halep, in the fourth round.

Halep won the French Open this year, is the top seed and will play her first-round match Monday morning against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia on the Louis Armstrong Court.

Caroline Wozniacki is seeded second. Defending champion Sloane Stephens is the third seed, followed by this year’s Wimbledon champ, Angelique Kerber.

Stephens will start her campaign as the third match scheduled on the Louis Armstrong court in the day session.

Stan Wawrinka, the 2016 U.S. Open champion, missed last year’s tournament because of an injury, but he was given a wild card this year. He’ll start action off on this opening day on the Ashe Court at noon, playing eighth seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Follow Ann on Twitter at @AnnLiguori.