Published: Tue, August 30, 2016
Sports | By Nelson Rowe

Serena Williams seeks Grand Slam singles record at US Open tennis tournament

Serena Williams seeks Grand Slam singles record at US Open tennis tournament

NEW YORK-Squealing sneakers piercing the practice court are sonic reminders of how quickly Serena Williams can change direction. With an added incentive - World No. 1 - Kerber might just pull this off.

Williams must put her fast feet into action from the first ball as she opens her US Open quest facing unsafe Olympic doubles gold medalist Ekaterina Makarova.

The 34-year-old United States superstar matched Steffi Graf's Open Era record of 22 Grand Slam singles titles with her triumph at Wimbledon in July.

The world's No. 1 player has a problem with his left wrist (one he says he doesn't know the medical term for) and he's hoping that it's close to 100 percent when the Open begins on Monday at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

She was defeated in straight sets by fellow Italian Flavia Pennetta in the 2015 final, but with the defending champion opting to retire after claiming her first Grand Slam title, the honour falls on Vinci to get this year's tournament underway at Flushing Meadows.

Angelique Kerber is arguably the biggest challenger, after defeating her in Australia. However, she has reached the round of 16 at the past four majors. "I just am more relaxed, for sure".

"I will not put too much pressure on this".

She then withdrew from her WTA title defence in Cincinnati, still struggling with painful shoulder inflammation.

The top seed's second serve lacked some sting in Rio. The celebrations are over, though, and it's up to Puig to prove her performance in Rio was no fluke. A seventh U.S. Open title would give Serena sole possession of that mark.

"I played the Tour when I was 34".

"I need to try to maintain this consistency every single week and this tournament's no different". "And if she could ever get it all together and believe and trust herself and play her A game, I think she could be a threat".

"But I don't really think about how I used to play because it's so far down the line that I'm just literally taking it one match at a time". She just hit the ball.

"It wasn't very easy, I think, physically", Williams said of her past few weeks. "But her high level of play is still higher than any other player". This year is the same and we will see on Monday if Novak's wrist is fine. In 2015, however, she moved up a gear, winning four tournaments. She equaled Graf's Open-era record of 22 career majors at Wimbledon last month. Last week, the feisty German came within a win from knocking Serena off the perch of World No. 1, but Karolina Pliskova shellacked her in the Cincinnati final to ruin her dream. But rusty as she is, she will have a tough contest in the very first round, where she plays two-time Grand Slam semi-finalist Ekaterina Makarova of Russian Federation. Her relentless schedule finally told and she faded in the final.

Nadal missed 2 1/2 months because of a problem with the tendon sheath in his wrist, pulling out of the French Open before the third round, then skipping Wimbledon altogether.

Though prior to that brilliant major streak, Williams suffered some painful major losses to lower-ranked players, including No. 111 Virginie Razzano, 56th-ranked Makarova, 25th-ranked Sloane Stephens, Sabine Lisicki and Cornet. Women's tennis has never had these many contenders for a Grand Slam title.

"It's still Serena and the rest of the field", Kerber said smiling.

Victory in NY would see British No.1 Murray move closer to the top of the world rankings - a place he has never occupied in his career.

"Let's see what happens in the next two weeks".

Which other players can challenge for the title?

Williams was already wearing her game face in her pre-tournament presser suggesting her focus is on mastering the moment.

Murray has taken false comfort from Djokovic's apparent ailments before - most notably during last year's Australian Open final when the Serb was hobbling on a bad ankle, only to storm back to victory - and the British number one may be wary of being burned again.

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