Serena’s possible path to true Grand Slam


By Howard Fendrich - AP Tennis Writer



Shortly after the draw for the U.S. Open set up Serena Williams’ path to completing a Grand Slam, she offered her own analysis.

“It’s not anything simple or easy to go through,” Williams said.

Actually, judging by her head-to-head records against many possible opponents, it might be.

Still, there are sure to be tests for Williams if she is going to win seven matches over two weeks once play begins in Flushing Meadows on Monday, a run that would make her 28-0 at major tournaments in 2015.

The enormity of the accomplishment, and the amount of attention, might be tough to take, let alone what problems other players may present.

“If I make it far, maybe I’ll start to feel pressure,” Williams said Thursday. “But as of now, I really don’t feel any.”

Here is a look at some opponents who could stand between her and tennis’ first calendar-year Grand Slam since 1988:

FIRST ROUND

Vitalia Diatchenko, Russia. Ranked 86th. Grand Slam record of 2-6, including 0-2 at the U.S. Open. Never won a tour title. Against Williams: 0-0. Her WTA website bio says: “Admires Serena Williams for her fast and aggressive game.” If she beats Williams, it would be one of the biggest surprises in tennis history.

SECOND ROUND

Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia. Ranked 48th. Grand Slam highlight was 1999 Wimbledon semifinals; didn’t reach a major’s fourth round again until the 2014 U.S. Open. Against Williams: 0-2, but they last met in 1998.

THIRD ROUND

Sloane Stephens, United States. Seeded 29th. Got to 2013 Australian Open semifinals by beating — yep, you guessed it — Williams. Won first career title in August on hard courts in Washington. Against Williams: 1-5, 0-3 this year. Two years ago, found herself in a brouhaha over less-than-flattering comments she made to a reporter about Williams.

Also possible:

Bethanie Mattek-Sands, United States. Ranked 101st. Against Williams: 0-2.

CoCo Vandeweghe, United States. Ranked 43rd. Against Williams: 0-3.

FOURTH ROUND

Madison Keys, United States. Seeded 19th. Made Grand Slam semifinal debut at Australian Open in January, losing to Williams. Against Williams: 0-1. Coached by Lindsay Davenport, who was 4-10 as a player against Williams.

Also possible:

Agnieszka Radwanska, Poland. Seeded 15th. Wimbledon runner-up in 2012, losing to Williams. Against Williams: 0-8.

QUARTERFINALS

Venus Williams, United States. Seeded 23rd. Won seven Grand Slam singles titles. Against Serena: 11-15, including a loss in Wimbledon’s fourth round in July. Asked about the prospect of facing her sibling in the quarterfinals in New York, Serena responded with a laugh: “It’s better than the round of 16.”

Also possible:

Belinda Bencic, Switzerland. Seeded 12th. Just 18; coached by Martina Hingis’ mother. One of two players to beat Williams in 2015, this month on a hard court in Toronto. Against Williams: 1-1.

Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic. Seeded eighth. Against Williams: 0-1.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Russia. Seeded 31st. Against Williams: 0-5.

SEMIFINALS

Maria Sharapova, Russia. Seeded third. Five-time major champion, including at 2006 U.S. Open. Against Williams: 2-18, with 17 consecutive losses, most recently in the Wimbledon semifinals.

Also possible:

Ana Ivanovic, Serbia. Seeded seventh. Won 2008 French Open. Against Williams: 1-9.

Carla Suarez Navarro, Spain. Seeded 10th. Against Williams: 0-6.

Jelena Jankovic, Serbia. Seeded 21st. Against Williams: 4-10.

Svetlana Kuznetsova, Russia. Seeded 30th. Won two major titles, including 2004 U.S. Open. Against Williams: 2-8.

FINAL

Petra Kvitova, Czech Republic. Seeded fifth. Two-time Wimbledon champion. Along with Bencic, one of two women to beat Williams this season, at Madrid on red clay in March. Against Williams: 1-5.

Also possible:

Simona Halep, Romania. Seeded second. French Open runner-up in 2014. Against Williams: 1-6.

Caroline Wozniacki, Denmark. Seeded fourth. Against Williams: 1-10, including a loss in last year’s U.S. Open final.

Lucie Safarova, Czech Republic. Seeded sixth. Against Williams: 0-9.

Victoria Azarenka, Belarus. Seeded 20th. Against Williams; 3-17, including losses in the 2012 and 2013 U.S. Open finals.

Sam Stosur, Australia. Seeded 22nd. U.S. Open champion in 2011, beating Williams in final. Against Williams: 3-8.

Alize Cornet, France. Seeded 27th. The last woman to beat Williams at a Grand Slam tournament, in Wimbledon’s third round in 2014. Against Williams: 3-3.

By Howard Fendrich

AP Tennis Writer

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