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Serena Williams eyes US Open hat-trick

Cincinnati champion favourite to win US Open for third successive year

New York: World No 1 Serena Williams is firing on all cylinders as she seeks to stretch her tally of Grand Slam singles titles to 18 at the US Open.

Serena Williams. Pic/AFP
Serena Williams. Pic/AFP 

The familiar hardcourts of Flushing Meadows, where Williams has lifted the trophy the past two years and a total of five times, is just the place to end her 2014 Grand Slam drought.

The American superstar hasn't made it past the fourth round of a major this year. But she has won two of her five 2014 titles in the buildup to the Open, signalling she won't surrender her crown without a fight.

Her straight-sets win over Ana Ivanovic in the final at Cincinnati showed Williams at her dominant best. Back trouble, and the virus that left her weak and woozy in doubles after her shock third-round singles exit at Wimbledon, are all in the past, Williams said.

"I'm in some of the best shape I've been in," she said. "I can play long points and be ready to go again. I feel really fit — 32 is the new 22, right?"

Who can challenge her?
An actual 22-year-old, Simona Halep, will be among those trying to topple Williams in New York.

Williams will also be challenged by Maria Sharapova. Just who else might emerge to challenge Williams is unclear.

Australian Open champion Li Na of China is an injury absentee, while Czech Petra Kvitova has been an early casualty in the two tournaments she has played since winning Wimbledon. Victoria Azarenka goes into the fortnight under an injury cloud.

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