WTA Cincinnati draw: Emma Raducanu to face Serena Williams in dream opening match

Serena Williams double-handed backhand

The Western & Southern Open will feature a mouthwatering first-round clash between reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu and tennis great Serena Williams.

The generational clash will see 19-year-old Raducanu take on 40-year-old Williams for the first time in their careers, and adding to the excitement is the fact that the latter announced earlier this week that she is to retire.

After nearly three decades on the WTA Tour, the 23-time Grand Slam winner confirmed that she will be “evolving away from tennis” with the WTA 1000 Cincinnati tournament likely to be her penultimate event and the US Open at Flushing Meadows her final act on the Tour.

Williams has played very little tennis over the past year as she only made her comeback at Wimbledon, losing in the first round while she exited this week’s Canadian Open in the second round.

“I’m terrible at goodbyes. But, goodbye Toronto,” Williams said after losing to Belinda Bencic in Toronto.

Raducanu was asked for her thoughts on the American after she announced her retirement and replied: “It’s incredible her career. She has achieved so much. And to see her around in this US swing is really inspiring. Like she keeps playing because she obviously loves the game.

“And I think that longevity of a career is something that a lot of the players and me especially we aspire to achieve as well.”

The British No 1 herself has struggled for form this year as she is yet to win three matches in a row. The teenager lost in the first round of the Canadian Open last week and made a quarter-final exit from the Citi Open.

The 10th seeded Raducanu and Williams are in the bottom half of the draw and the winner of that clash will face either Victoria Azarenka or Kaia Kanepi.

Western & Southern Open draw

Bianca Andreescu and Camilia Giorgi, who beat Raducanu in Toronto, will face each other in the first round with the winner taking on seventh seed Jessica Pegula.

In the lower half of Section 3, 14th seed Karolina Pliskova takes on seven-time Grand Slam winner Venus Williams. Fourth seed Maria Sakkari, who faces a Alison Van Uytvanck or a qualifier first up, is the highest-ranked player.

World No 2 Anett Kontaveit headlines Section 4 and she faces a qualifier in round two while four-time major champion Naomi Osaka faces Zhang Shuai first up with a possible second-round encounter against 13th seed Leylah Fernandez on the cards.

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The top half is led by world No 1 Iga Swiatek and the Pole will face either Sloane Stephens or Alice Cornet in the first round while Coco Gauff is also in the section and takes on a qualifier first up.

Section 2 is headlined by third seed Paula Badosa, who faces a qualifier, while Ons Jabuer is a projected quarter-finalist and the fifth-seeded Tunisian will be up against Caty McNally or Aliaksandra Sasnovich in the second round.