Former U.S. Open champions Venus and Serena Williams are on track to meet in the fourth round of this year's tournament, which gets under way Monday in New York.
After that potential meeting, the sister who advances likely would face a quarterfinal against the hottest player in women's tennis, Belgium's Kim Clijsters, who dominated the summer's hard-court season to win the U.S. Open Series. That achievement entitles Clijsters to double prize money at the Open -- worth $2.2 million if she wins the tournament.
The tough road facing the Williams sisters was among the more striking themes when the tournament's draw was unveiled yesterday. Seeding followed the current world rankings, placing Serena, the 1999 and 2002 U.S. Open winner, eighth. Venus, the 2000 and 2001 U.S. Open victor, is seeded 10th.
Top-seeded Maria Sharapova could face fellow Russian Svetlana Kuznetsova, the defending U.S. Open champion, in the quarterfinals.
On the men's side, top seed Roger Federer is a strong favorite to defend his 2004 U.S. Open title. He faces a potential tricky semifinal against Russia's Marat Safin, who bounced the Swiss from the Australian Open earlier this year.
Fourth-seeded Andy Roddick, the top American in the draw, is also gunning for double prize money, having clinched the U.S. Open Series with a strong summer that included winning Washington's Legg Mason Classic. Roddick was hailed as the sport's future when he won the 2003 U.S. Open at age 21, but his collection of titles in Grand Slam events stalled there, with Federer denying him the last two Wimbledon championships.
-- Liz Clarke