Serena eyes last eight, seeds seek to exploit Djokovic exit
Serena Williams seeks a quarter-final berth at the US Open on Monday as the top men’s seeds look to take advantage of Novak Djokovic’s shock disqualification.
Williams goes head-to-head with Greece’s 15th seed Maria Sakkari for a spot in the last eight as she chases a record-equalling 24th singles Grand Slam title.
Williams will be wary of the threat posed by Sakkari after the Greek dumped her out of the Western & Southern Open, a US Open tune-up, in New York last month.
The victor will play either Bulgaria’s Tsvetana Pironkova or France’s Alize Cornet, both of whom are unseeded, for a place in the semi-finals.
In the men’s draw, Monday, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev — the respective second and third seeds — continue their hunt for a maiden Grand Slam title.
The competition was blown wide open on Sunday when Djokovic was thrown out for accidentally hitting a line judge after smashing a ball in frustration.
Djokovic, the overwhelming favourite, was defaulted after venting his frustration at going behind in the first set of his last-16 match against Spain’s unseeded Pablo Carreno Busta.
His departure means the US Open will this year produce a first-time Grand Slam winner in the men’s competition.
Thiem, of Austria, takes on Canadian youngster Felix Auger-Aliassime, seeded 15th, while Medvedev faces unseeded Frances Tiafoe, the last remaining American in the men’s singles.
Italian sixth seed Matteo Berrettini and 10th-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev will do battle to play either Medvedev or Auger-Aliassime.
In the women’s draw, second seed Sofia Kenin faces Elise Mertens, the 16th seed from Belgium, for a quarter-final match against Victoria Azarenka or Karolina Muchova.
Williams, the tournament’s third seed, is seeking a 24th Slam that would equal Margaret Court’s record.
It has been more than three years since Williams won her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open — when she was already pregnant with daughter Olympia.
The 38-year-old has come close since, reaching four major finals only to come away empty-handed.
A tournament victory next week would also see her break away from Chris Evert, on six titles, as the most decorated US Open champion of the women’s game in the modern era.