Opinions divided on Sharapova as Slam return looms

US Open 2017: Players under the most pressure on the women's draw

"I'm not thinking anymore". Just first round of a Grand Slam.

But the big story is in the bottom section, where the second seed Halep has been drawn in the first round against Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion who is playing her first major tournament since returning earlier this year from a 15-month doping suspension.

Halep declined to wade into the debate about the merits of the U.S. Tennis Association's decision to let Sharapova into the tournament.

"I feel like I'm playing catch-up against everyone who has had a head start", she said of being hurt during US Open tune-up events.

Kerber beat Pliskova in last year's final in NY to reach No. 1.

Sharapova is finding her feet after a 15-month doping ban, and she has declared that she's missed competing. "It's not my position to talk about this".

Sharapova has never been the most popular in the women's locker room and her counterparts are now numb to the subject on whether she deserved a wild card here.

"My reaction was normal, because this year I had very tough draws every time nearly", said Halep, who was on the court practicing when she learned of her first-round matchup.

The day before beating Cilic in the Wimbledon final, Federer sat down with Luthi to discuss preparation for the U.S. Open.

"It s going to be a big challenge, first round of a Grand Slam, to face her", Halep said. To me, she's made some really good strides, although she is still a little mechanical at times. "If not, no, we will see". I just want to do my best to try to win and of course to enjoy it. "It's a big, big match".

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Possible women's quarterfinal matchups on the draw's bottom half include Halep or Sharapova against Johanna Konta; and Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza against Caroline Wozniacki or Venus Williams, a seven-time major champion. "I think we re all a bit surprised, all the players, all the media, all the experts and fans". The Russian has an astonishing 6-0 record against the Romanian, but now the scene is different as Halep is one of the best players of the season.

"That's the one player everybody wanted to see where she would land".

"I felt like I could compete and beat anyone during this period of time".

Between Kerber and Halep, the matter of Sharapova's wild card is an issue more pertinent to the latter.

Halep and Sharapova haven't faced each other since 2015, and three of their last four matches went to the third set. "It wouldn't shock me if she pulled off the huge upset".

The World No.1 ranking is on the line for eight players and Muguruza is one of those players that will be looking to be the 24th WTA player to get to the top of the tree in singles.

"I'm aware of what many of my peers have said about me and how critical of me some of them have been".

"So I think she's OK".

"I don't think Serena being gone it's like immediately, like, 'Madison, you're our only hope.' I'm focused on myself and, you know, I'm not really concerned that I'm wherever I am with the women".

"Everyone can take the number one and if it's going to happen, I will deserve it".

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