Sharapova’s first grand slam comeback will be against Simona Halep

Maria Sharapova will now be free to compete at Wimbledon in 2017 CREDIT: COCO VANDEWEGHE/REX SHUTTERSTOCK

Maria Sharapova’s return to grand slam action will begin with a high-profile clash against Romanian second seed Simona Halep while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could meet in the U.S. Open semi-finals, according to Friday’s draw.

For Sharapova, a former world number one and five-times grand slam champion who returned from a 15-month doping ban in April and was awarded a wild-card invitation to the U.S. Open, it will mark her first match since pulling out of the Stanford Classic three weeks ago with an arm injury.

The 30-year-old Russian, who was banned after testing positive for heart drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, has had mixed results since re-joining the WTA Tour and will need to be at her best early to keep alive any hope of her first title at Flushing Meadows since 2006.

Defending women’s champion Angelique Kerber has a tricky test as she takes on Japan’s Naomi Osaka in the opening round and could face red-hot Elina Svitolina, who won a tune-up event at Toronto, in the quarters.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, who is one of the favorites and fresh from her triumph at the Cincinnati Open, could face former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the quarters.

Czech world number one Karolina Pliskova, runner-up at last year’s tournament, will play her first round against Poland’s Magda Linette and is projected to play 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last eight.

(Source: Reuters)

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