First-round fireworks: Serena, Maria Sharapova to meet at US Open

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova finally will meet in the U.S. Open, and they’ll do it in their very first match.

A long-awaited Roger Federer-Rafael Nadal matchup could come only in the final.

Williams and Sharapova, past U.S. Open champions and two of the biggest stars in women’s tennis, were scheduled for an opening-round match when the draws were conducted Thursday for the final major of the year.

Williams and Sharapova have met in the finals of the other three majors and the 2012 Olympics but have not played each other in the U.S. Open. Williams owns a 19-2 record in their WTA Tour matchups and has won 18 in a row, but that lopsided number shouldn’t do much to dampen the hype around what will be the marquee match of the opening round at Flushing Meadows, which starts Monday.

Williams will begin another bid for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title. Sharapova isn’t the same player she was when she won the 2006 U.S. Open championship — or beat Williams two years earlier in the final at Wimbledon — but remains one of the most popular players among fans in New York.

Naomi Osaka, the top seed who beat Williams in last year’s final for her first major title, could face a third-round match against Coco Gauff, the 15-year-old American who made it to the fourth round at Wimbledon.

The men’s draw sent Federer, the third seed, into the top half, meaning he could play top-ranked Novak Djokovic in the semifinals. They met in a classic final at Wimbledon, where Djokovic won in a fifth-set tiebreaker.

Federer and Nadal, the second seed, have not played each other in New York and could do so this year only if both make the final.

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Collier, Dantas lead Lynx to WNBA win

Napheesa Collier scored 19 points, Damiris Dantas had 17 points and a career-high eight assists, and the host Minnesota Lynx beat the Dallas Wings 86-70.

Obituaries: Luke Laufenberg, the son of former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Babe Laufenberg and a tight end at UTEP, died after a nearly two-year fight with cancer. He was 21.

The elder Laufenberg posted on Twitter on Thursday, writing “we lost a son, a brother, a friend, and a warrior. Have never seen a person battle like Luke Laufenberg, but he lost his fight with cancer.”

• Felice Gimondi, who was one of a handful of competitors to win all three of cycling’s major multiweek races, but who remained a frustrated rival to the sport’s most successful star, Eddy Merckx, died Aug. 16 while vacationing in Sicily. He was 76.

Gimondi was one of only seven riders to take the Tour de France, the Vuelta a España and the Giro d’Italia, which he won three times.

Gimondi turned professional in 1965 at 22 and promptly won the Tour de France. He remained the youngest Tour de France winner in the post-World War II era until last month, when Egan Bernal of Colombia triumphed in Paris. Bernal was 93 days younger than Gimondi was when Gimondi won in 1965.

This post was originally posted at https://www.sfgate.com/sports/article/First-round-fireworks-Serena-Maria-Sharapova-to-14372381.php.

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