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    Monday, August 27, 2018

    Serena, Nadal Headline Opening Night at US Open

    Serena Williams launches her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title on Monday, sharing the Arthur Ashe Stadium stage with defending men’s champion Rafael Nadal in a blockbuster US Open opening night.

    The two superstars, who own 40 Grand Slam titles between them, headline an opening day that sees eight former US Open champions in action. Williams counts six US Open titles among her 23 Grand Slams, and with one more she will equal Margaret Court’s all-time record for major titles.

    But the US superstar is something of an unknown quantity as she seeks her first Slam title since the birth of daughter Olympia last September. “I can just continue to strive,” says Williams, the 17th seed who called it “interesting” to be tipped as a favorite to win her first US Open title since 2014.

    She’s shown flashes of the old brilliance since her return in March, reaching the final at Wimbledon only to fall to Germany’s Angelique Kerber. Williams opens her campaign against Poland’s Magda Linette, the world number 60 whose first career match against the imposing American will thrust her into the glare of the Ashe stadium lights on a night when organizers are pulling out all the stops in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the US Open.

    Defending men’s champion Nadal, ranked number one in the world and seeking a second Slam title of the season after yet another Roland Garros triumph, faces an emotional duel with old friend and Davis Cup teammate David Ferrer. “It will be a special meeting,” said Nadal, well aware that the slumping Ferrer will call time on his career at the end of the year. Nadal was looking forward to playing in front of the boisterous New York fans.

    “I always had a great connection with the crowd here,” he said. “The crowd brings me to another level of energy. That’s something that I enjoy.” Ashe stadium will be rocking after a pre-match a pre-match ceremony to honor past US Open champions and a musical set headlined by Kelly Clarkson, with entertainer Maxwell tapped to perform the national anthem.
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