NEW YORK: Serena Williams, bidding for a calendar-year Grand Slam and her fifth consecutive major title, joined fellow world number one Novak Djokovic atop the US Open direct entry lists announced Wednesday.
The US Tennis Association said the world’s 99 top-ranked men and 100 of the top 101 women — China’s 29th-ranked Peng Shuai absent with a back injury — will be in the field when the year’s final Grand Slam event begins next month at Flushing Meadows.
Three-time defending champion Williams, who shares the Open Era record of US Open titles with Chris Evert at six, can become the first woman to win all four Grand Slams in the same year since Steffi Graf in 1988.
Williams, who holds all four major titles at once in a second career “Serena Slam,” won her 21st Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon earlier this month, putting her third on the all-time list behind Graf’s 22 and the 24 of Margaret Court.
Djokovic, a five-time US Open finalist who won the title in 2011, captured his eighth and ninth Grand Slam titles this year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.
Roger Federer, ranked second and who lost to Djokovic in the Wimbledon final, seeks his sixth US Open crown to add to his record 17 career Slam titles.
Britain’s Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open and 2013 Wimbledon winner, and reigning French Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka as well as defending champion Marin Cilic and fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori, last year’s US Open runner-up from Japan, are in the lineup.
So is Spain’s Rafael Nadal, the 2010 and 2013 US Open champion who seeks a 15th Slam crown.
World number two and 2006 US Open champion Maria Sharapova of Russia, 2014 US Open runner-up Caroline Wozniacki, two-time US Open champion Venus Williams and former US Open champions Samantha Stosur and Svetlana Kuznetsova are in the field.
Italy’s 99th-ranked Marco Cecchinato was the last men’s direct entrant while five players used protected rankings to gain a spot in the field, including American Mardy Fish, Germans Tommy Haas and Florian Mayer, Serbian Janko Tipsarevic and Czech Radek Stepanek.
Belgium’s 101st-ranked Kirsten Flipkens was the last woman accepted directly into the event. Those using special rankings status to make the lineup included Czech Petra Cetkovska, Britain’s Laura Robson, American Vania King and Russia’s Alisa Kleybanova.