New York: Defending champion Novak Djokovic will avoid Roger Federer and Andy Murray until the final while the Williams sisters could meet in the semi-finals as a result of the US Open draws made on Thursday.
On the men’s side, where Spanish star Rafael Nadal is absent because of continuing knee trouble, the draw set up a possible rematch of the Wimbledon and Olympic finals in the semi-finals with Murray and Federer in the same half of the draw.
World No 1 Federer, who won his 17th Grand Slam title by beating Murray in last month’s Wimbledon final, won five US Open titles in a row from 2004 through 2008.
He will start against American Donald Young.
Top seed Federer could face Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals while Murray, the third seed who beat Federer for Olympic gold earlier this month at Wimbledon, opens against Russian Alex Bogomolov.
Murray could meet French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight.
Serbian second seed Djokovic, who opens against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi, could face Argentina’s seventh-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro in the quarter-finals and Serb eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic or Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer in the semi-finals.
Del Potro, the 2009 US Open champion, opens against compatriot David Nalbandian and could meet 2003 winner Andy Roddick in the round of 16.
“Most players have a look at the draw in more detail but you try to focus on the first opponent,” said Djokovic, ahead of the last Grand Slam event of the year which starts at Flushing Meadows on Monday.
“The draw is something you cannot affect. It’s luck really. You try to focus on what’s in your power. That’s how you play. To think about the semi-finals is not the best thing at this moment. There are 128 very motivated players.”
On the women’s side, seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams lurked as a dangerous unseeded floater and ended up in the same quarter of the draw as Polish second seed Agnieszka Radwanska.
Venus also was slotted into the same half of the draw as her sister Serena, meaning they could only meet in a semi-final with Russian third seed Maria Sharapova and Belarus top seed Victoria Azarenka in the opposite half.
A key factor standing in the way of a Williams-Williams meeting is Germany’s sixth-seeded Angelique Kerber, who ousted Venus at the Olympics and ended the 19-match win streak of Serena last week at Cincinnati.
Kerber, who opens against Britain’s Anne Keothavong, has a second-round date against either Venus Williams or US wildcard Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
If Venus gets into the third round, her highest-rated rival before the last eight would be 10th seed Sara Errani of Italy. But then could come Radwanska followed by her sister Serena.
Serena, who opens against US rival Coco Vandeweghe in a rematch of last month’s Stanford final, might meet Danish eighth seed Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter-finals.
Top seed Azarenka opens against Russia’s Alexandra Panova and could meet defending champion Samantha Stosur of Australia in the quarter-finals.
Stosur begins her title defence against Croatian Petra Martic and would meet a qualifier in round two but could face a fourth-round matchup against three-time US Open winner Kim Clijsters in the Belgian’s farewell event.
“The first round of Grand Slams you are always a little nervous for sure,” Stosur said. “I’m looking forward to getting out on the court. You have to make sure you don’t take anything for granted.”
Sharapova, the 2006 US Open champion, opens against Hungary’s Melinda Czink and could meet Czech Petra Kvitova in the last eight.