Serena, Djokovic in first-day action at U.S. Open

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Top-seeded world number ones Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic help launch the U.S. Open tennis championships on Monday’s opening day of the year’s final grand slam.

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Australian Open and Wimbledon champion Djokovic closes the day program at Arthur Ashe Stadium against 89th-ranked Joao Souza of Brazil.

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Three-times defending U.S. champion Williams, the Australian, French and Wimbledon champion seeking to become the fourth woman ever to complete a Grand Slam, opens the night program against 86th-ranked Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia.

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The tournament’s first match on the Arthur Ashe centre court pits seventh-seeded Ana Ivanovic of Serbia against Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, followed by two-times U.S. Open winner Venus Williams against Puerto Rican Monica Puig.

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The second Opening Night match under the lights features two-times winner Rafa Nadal of Spain, the eighth seed, against up-and-coming Borna Coric of Croatia, an 18-year-old ranked 35th.

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Ninth-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia begins the defence of his men’s title with a Louis Armstrong Stadium tilt against Guido Pella of Argentina.

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Cilic follows Japan’s Kei Nishikori onto the Armstrong court.

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Fourth seed Nishikori, who fell to Cilic in the 2014 U.S. Open final, faces France’s Benoit Paire in his opening match.

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Russia’s Maria Sharapova, the third seed, closes the Louis Armstrong day session against Australian Daria Gavrilova.

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