It will be a blockbuster first round at the US Open as No. 2 seed Simona Halep opens her quest to become the No. 1 player in the WTA against wild card and former top player Maria Sharapova next week. However, Halep will be facing a gargantuan task as she is winless in six matches against Sharapova, who was extended an invitation by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) as a past winner of the tournament. Sharapova won the event in 2006.

This marks Sharapova’s first appearance at a Grand Slam since the Australian Open in 2016. After that, she was suspended for testing positive for the banned substance meldonium.

When she returned from the ban in April, she was not granted a wild card at the French Open while she did not qualify for Wimbledon due to injury. If Halep hurdles Sharapova, she is expected to face British No.1 Johanna Konta in the quarterfinals. Konta spoiled Halep’s attempt to become No. 1 at Wimbledon.

Angelique Kerber takes on Naomi Osaka

Meanwhile, defending champion #Angelique Kerber will take on Japan's Naomi Osaka in her opening match. Last year, Kerber captured the No. 1 ranking after winning this event. In the quarterfinals, she is expected to face Elina Svitolina, who will start her campaign against Katerina Sinakova, who is fresh from her victory at the Ericsson Open in Bastad.

Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza, for her part, kicks off her campaign Varvara Lepchenko.

She is projected to face Caroline Wozniacki in the quarterfinals. Muguruza is on a roll after winning the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. World No.1 Karolina Pliskova, who holds just a five-point lead over Halep, will face Magda Linette in the first round and is projected to play 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova in the last eight.

Nadal, Federer in same half at US Open

World No. 1 #Rafael Nadal, who won here in 2010 and 2013, and Roger Federer have been seeded in the same section of the US Open draw and could face in the semifinal of the event. Based on the draw, Nadal could face Grigor Dimitrov or David Goffin in the quarterfinals before meeting Federer, who is eyeing his sixth US Open crown.

Despite their long careers, Nadal and Federer never crossed paths at the US Open. Nadal leads Federer, 23-14, in their head-to-head series but the latter has won their past four meetings, including the Australian Open, the BNP Paribas Open, and the Miami Open. Nadal will play Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in the first round while the third seed Federer faces Frances Tiafoe in the opening round.