US Open: Roger Federer confident about fitness as he seeks 20th Grand Slam

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams
Roger Federer joined Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams at Arthur Ashe Kids Day at Flushing Meadows on Saturday
US Open
Venue: Flushing Meadows, New York Dates: 28 Aug-10 Sept
BBC coverage: Live radio and text commentary on selected matches every day.

Roger Federer will head into next week's US Open feeling optimistic he has overcome his injury concerns.

The Swiss, 36, struggled with a back problem as he lost to Alexander Zverev in Montreal two weeks ago.

But the third seed has been practising freely in New York and said: "I'm really happy how I'm feeling."

A hip injury has seen Andy Murray join Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori on the list of absentees.

That leaves Federer and top seed Rafael Nadal as the clear favourites, with the pair in line for a potential semi-final meeting.

Federer has a 35-3 record this year, having taken his Grand Slam tally to 19 titles with wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

His hopes of winning a sixth US Open, and first since 2008, suffered a blow with the third of those defeats against Zverev in Montreal two weeks ago.

A back problem restricted Federer in the final but he has recovered sufficiently to face American teenager Frances Tiafoe in the first round at Flushing Meadows on Tuesday.

"Two weeks after the finals [in Montreal] is a long time, so because you've got two weeks you can take your time," said the Swiss.

"So the first week was really just trying to feel better, get better, get back on the court at some stage. I have been on the practice courts since last week. There you have it.

"I have been playing sets the last few days, and I'm really happy how I'm feeling."

If Federer and Nadal were to make it through to the semi-finals it would be their first ever meeting at the US Open.

"I'd be happy to play him here," said Federer. "We never played in New York, so I think that would be fun for everybody involved. I don't think we are both thinking that far ahead."

Nadal, who plays Dusan Lajovic of Serbia in the first round, said: "A lot of points and games to play, so now is not the moment to think about that.

"For me, I think about Lajovic. That's my goal."

'How is this possible?' - Halep on facing Sharapova

Simona Halep
Simona Halep yet to win her first Grand Slam tournament

The tie of the first round in New York pits Romania's world number two Simona Halep against 2006 champion Maria Sharapova in Monday's night session.

The Russian, 30, returns to Grand Slam action for the first time since completing a 15-month anti-doping suspension.

Halep is one of eight women in with a chance of ending the tournament as world number one, but the 25-year-old has a 0-6 record against Sharapova.

Asked how she felt when she heard the draw, Halep said: "My reaction was normal, because this year I had very tough draws every time almost.

"Of course it was a little bit like, 'How is this possible again? Just first round of a Grand Slam.' But I felt OK."

Sharapova is currently ranked 147th and required a wildcard from the United States Tennis Association - something she was refused at the French Open in May.

"About the wildcard, the tournament decided, so they can do anything they want," said Halep. "It's not my position to talk about this.

"She's coming back. She's strong enough to come back, in my opinion. She has a lot of experience, and also many tournaments won.

"So I think she's OK. It's going to be a big challenge, first round of Grand Slam to face her. She beat me six times. So maybe I will change this. We will see Monday."

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