Nadal practices early as U.S. Open braces for Sharapova vs Halep


NEW YORK (Reuters) – Twice champion Rafa Nadal was out practicing early shortly before the first balls were hit at the U.S. Open on Monday as the tournament gets off to an exciting start with Maria Sharapova taking on world number two Simona Halep.

Russian Sharapova, who this season returned from a doping ban, was granted a wildcard entry to the last grand slam of the season but received a tough first-round draw in the shape of Romanian Halep.

They will open the night session in Arthur Ashe stadium before German prospect Alexander Zverev, the fourth seed, takes on Darian King from Barbados.

Halep was one of many players to voice concerns over Sharapova being granted a wildcard at the Stuttgart tournament on her comeback in April.

Opening proceedings on the main court on a mild day in New York will be third seed Garbine Muguruza of Spain, against local favorite Varvara Lepchenko.

The Spaniard, a Wimbledon and French Open champion, has never gone past the second round at Flushing Meadows.

Former champion Marin Cilic also faces an American player on center court, Tennys Sandgren.

Editing by Ed Osmond