NEW YORK – World number two Simona Halep of Romania will face Russian wildcard Maria Sharapova in the first round of the US Open as the draw was conducted in New York on Friday.
Sharapova, making her first Grand Slam appearance since a 15-month doping ban, has a 6-0 career record against Halep, who last Sunday lost for the third time in as many months with a chance to advance to world number one with a victory.
Former world number one Sharapova, a five-time Grand Slam champion, was issued a two-year suspension after testing positive for the banned heart and blood boosting drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, but the Court of Arbitration for Sport reduced the ban on appeal.
She said that she had taken it for several years and did not know it had been placed on the banned list at the start of 2016.
Sharapova made her return in April at Stuttgart, reaching the semi-finals as a wildcard, but such invitations sparked criticism from some WTA rivals, saying she should have to work her way back without such benefits, and some suggesting a life ban.
Sharapova was refused a wildcard by French Open organisers and missed Wimbledon with a thigh injury.
Sharapova has missed three of the past four US Opens, her last visit ending in the 2014 fourth round.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza of Spain humbled Halep 6-1 6-0 in last Sunday’s final at Cincinnati to deny her the top ranking.
Halep also lost playing for number one in the French Open final against Jelena Ostapenko and the Wimbledon quarterfinal against Johanna Konta, each time after taking the first set.