Serena Williams to face Arantxa Rus in Cincinnati opener

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Former world No 1 Serena Williams will face Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands in her first match at the Western and Southern Open.

Rus earned her meeting with the 38-year-old American thanks to a confident 6-2, 6-3 win over Belgium’s Alison van Uytvanck on Sunday.

The left-hander will move up to No 66 in the world off the back of her victory, just five places shy of her career-best ranking achieved way back in 2012.

Williams, who has been hitting with Stefanos Tsitsipas this week at Flushing Meadows, where the Western and Southern Open is being played, is playing her second event since the WTA Tour began again after the Coronavirus lockdown, having lost to fellow American Shelby Rogers in the quarter-finals in Lexington last week.

The 23-times Grand Slam champion is one of the favourites for this month’s US Open, where victory would put her alongside Margaret Court on 24, equalling the all-time record.

On the eve of the event, Williams said she was staying in private accommodation in New York, rather than in one of two player hotels, because of her previous health issues and also said that 2020 will need an asterisk of its own due to the virus and the unique situation being experienced by players returning to the Tour.

Williams and Rus have played once before, in the first round at Wimbledon in 2018, when the American won 7-5, 6-3.

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