Medvedev draws Argentine Delbonis in US Open first round as Russian ace eyes tilt at Covid-affected Grand Slam

Russia’s world number five Daniil Medvedev will begin his assault on the US Open crown with a first-round matchup against Argentina’s Federico Delbonis after Thursday’s draw ahead of the start of the Flushing Meadows tournament.

Medvedev was beaten by Rafael Nadal in last year’s final but will be hoping to go one better when the behind-closed-doors event begins on Monday, and it was revealed that his first opponent will be left-hander Delbonis, the world’s 78th ranked player.

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Medvedev and Tsitsipas in Shanghai in 2019. © Getty Images
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The Russian will no doubt be buoyed by the fact that Nadal has chosen not to compete in the 2020 iteration of the tournament, citing safety concerns amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Indeed, the reigning women’s champion, Bianca Andreescu also withdrew from participation in advance of the event. 

Novak Djokovic, who confirmed in recent days that he will compete at the tournament, is the top seed and his campaign will begin with a match against Bosnia’s Damir Dzumhur. 

Interestingly, Djokvic rival Dominic Thiem was selected at the opposite end of the draw – potentially paving the way for a high-stakes showdown in the final between the two stars. 

Alexander Zverev, the fifth seed, has been handed a risky opening round match with heavy-hitter Kevin Anderson, a finalist in 2017. 

On the women’s side of the draw, Karolina Pliskova – named top seed in the absence of six of the women’s top-10 players – will commence her hunt for what would be her first Grand Slam title against Ukraine’s Anhelina Kalinina while Sofia Kenin, the Australian Open champion, will take on Belgium’s Yanina Wickmayer.

Serena Williams, who is looking to claim a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title, will meet fellow American Kristie Ahn. The unranked Venus Williams, meanwhile, plays 20th seed Karolina Muchova. 

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Former US Open champ Naomi Osaka will look to begin her challenge for another trophy when she takes on compatriot Misaki Doi. Russian 21st seed Ekaterina Alexandrova, meanwhile, will battle 37-year-old veteran Kim Clijsters who made a second exit from retirement this year. 

The US Open will commence on August 31 and runs until September 13.