McEnroe: Sharapova Couldn't Have Hoped For A More Appealing Draw
Federer, Roddick could meet; Henin could face both Venus, Serena
NEW YORK -- Roger Federer and Andy Roddick, last year's U.S. Open finalists, could meet earlier in this year's final Grand Slam of the season with a potential quarterfinal match looming.
On the women's side, top-seeded Justine Henin found herself on the side of the bracket with both Williams sisters when the draw was announced Wednesday.
As Federer attempts to become the first man in the Open era to win four consecutive U.S. Open titles, the No. 1 seed could face the top two Americans in the field. Fifth-seeded Roddick and No. 6 seed James Blake are in Federer's half of the bracket.
Federer and Roddick have combined to win the last four Opens, with Roddick taking the 2003 title. Federer won in four sets in last year's final.
"It's probably a lot earlier than either one of them would've hoped," former U.S. Open champion and television analyst Patrick McEnroe said.
The women's defending champ, Maria Sharapova, couldn't have hoped for a much more appealing draw, McEnroe said. Of the six players he would have picked to have a strong chance of winning, all but the second-seeded Sharapova landed on one half of the bracket. Jelena Jankovic, the No. 3 seed, and fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic join Henin and the Williams sister on a side loaded with big hitters.
Henin, the 2003 champ and last year's runner-up, could face two-time Open winner Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. The eighth-seeded Williams, the surprise Australian Open champ, has been sidelined by a thumb injury since Wimbledon.
"After Australia, she made a huge believer out of me that she doesn't need matches to win majors," analyst Mary Joe Fernandez said.
Two-time Open champ Venus Williams, coming off her comeback victory at Wimbledon, is seeded 12th and could have to go through Ivanovic and Jankovic to reach the semis, which is where she would play her sister if they met.
"The big question is whoever gets out of that side of the draw, will they be worn out?" McEnroe said. "I think it's a great opportunity for Sharapova. She doesn't have to go through the toughest players in my opinion to get to the final."
The Open could offer a breakthrough for third-seeded Novak Djokovic, the 20-year-old Serb who beat Rafael Nadal and Federer in Montreal earlier this month. Djokovic and the second-seeded Nadal are on the same side of the bracket and could meet in the semifinals.
"He's got pressure on him for the first time," McEnroe said.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press