Emma Raducanu given tough US Open first round draw against Alizé Cornet

Emma Raducanu has been handed one of the toughest possible first-round draws at the US Open this year as she begins her title defence against the veteran Frenchwoman Alizé Cornet.

Serena Williams, meanwhile, has been given a favourable draw in her likely final US Open as she faces Danka Kovinic of Montenegro in her opening match.

As Raducanu returns to the site of her 2021 triumph, the gritty, theatric 32-year-old Cornet awaits. An 18-year veteran who reached a career high ranking of 11 in 2009, Cornet will be contesting a women’s record 63rd consecutive grand slam main draw, breaking her tie with Ai Sugiyama.

At No 37 in the world, Cornet is not only one of the highest ranked unseeded players in the draw, but she is also in the middle of a late career resurgence, particularly at the grand slams where she has produced by far the best season of her career.

At the Australian Open, Cornet beat Simona Halep and Garbiñe Muguruza en route to her first grand slam quarter-final at her 60th attempt. She followed it up by reaching the third round at the French Open, beating the world No 13 Jelena Ostapenko on the way.

At Wimbledon, she was the player to end Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak, beating the world No 1 6-4, 6-2 to reach the fourth round. Should Raducanu, the 11th seed, move past Cornet, she would face either Taylor Townsend or Katerina Siniakova in the second round.

A potential first meeting with two-time champion Naomi Osaka could await in the third round, but the unseeded former world No 1 faces her own complicated first-round battle against the 19th seed Danielle Collins, this year’s Australian Open runner-up.

As she contests her final US Open, Williams cannot have any qualms about her own draw. Kovinic is ranked 80th in the world and has lost her past five matches, all in straight sets.

The 27-year-old is a huge server with heavy but relatively inconsistent groundstrokes and has spent her career dipping in and out of the top 100. If Williams gets past Kovinic the No 2 seed, Anett Kontaveit, is her likely opponent in the second round.

Elsewhere in the women’s draw, the 42-year-old Venus Williams, whose future plans are far more opaque than her sister’s, begins against Alison van Uytvanck of Belgium. The No 1 seed, Swiatek, begins her tournament against Jasmine Paolini.

After the North American hard court swing ended with Masters 1000 titles for Pablo Carreño Busta in Montreal and Borna Coric in Cincinnati, the men’s draw is as open as it has ever been. Despite his lack of matchplay, Rafael Nadal will begin as a tournament favourite as he chases his third grand slam title of the year.

Nadal, the second seed, will face the Australian wildcard Rinky Hijikata, with Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie the highest-ranked seed in his quarter. Norrie, the seventh seed, faces the temperamental Frenchman Benoît Paire in the first round. The ninth seed, Andrey Rublev, is the highest-ranked player in his section as he looks to reach a second consecutive major quarter-final.

In the top half Daniil Medvedev, the No 1 seed,will be looking to improve on his recent disappointing run at the site of his first and only grand slam victory. Medvedev begins his title defence against Stefan Kozlov of the United States, with a potential fourth-round match against Nick Kyrgios looming.

Among the other British players, Andy Murray will face the 24th seed, Francisco Cerúndolo, in the first round and Dan Evans, the 20th seed, will start against Jiri Vesely. As he continues his comeback from multiple knee surgeries, the former world No 14 Kyle Edmund plays against the No 5 seed, Casper Ruud, in his first grand slam event since the 2020 US Open. Now comfortably inside the top 100, Harriet Dart has drawn the 10th seed, Daria Kasatkina, in the first round.