Iga Swiatek to defend title and top-rank status at US Open against Rebecca Peterson

Pole to start tournament at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Monday in bid to defend French and US titles in same year

Iga Swiatek will open up Arthur Ashe Stadium at the US Open this year as she faces Rebecca Peterson of Sweden at midday on Monday, marking her first challenge as she attempts to defend both her title and her number-one ranking from the looming threat of Aryna Sabalenka, the second seed.

Swiatek’s dominance on the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) tour over the past 18 months presented her with a rare opportunity to equal a feat achieved by the imperious Steffi Graf. The Pole will look to become the first woman since Graf in 1996 to defend both Roland Garros and US Open titles in the same year. For Swiatek, there is a fine balance between taking confidence from last year’s performance and starting the event with a fresh slate.

“On one hand you always want to kind of take experience from last year, find all these positive things that happened, take strength from that,” said Swiatek. “On the other hand, you have to remember that it’s a totally different story. A lot can happen during these 12 months. So I try to take everything step by step, not really go forward with my thoughts, think that I need to do something more because last year I won.”

Elsewhere, Caroline Wozniacki will make her return to the US Open as she continues her comeback from retirement. The Dane, a wildcard, faces the qualifier Tatiana Prozorova as the second match on Louis Armstrong Stadium. Fresh off her first WTA 1000 title in Cincinnati, Coco Gauff will headline the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium against Laura Siegemund, the qualifier.


Some of the most interesting first-round draws include Elena Rybakina, the fourth seed, who will begin her campaign against Marta Kostyuk of Ukraine and the clash between Sloane Stephens, the 2017 champion here, and the 19th seed Beatriz Haddad Maia.

In the men’s draw, Novak Djokovic will return to competition at the US Open late on Monday night as he faces Alexandre Muller in the second match of the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium. After missing last year’s edition due to unvaccinated visitors not being allowed to enter the US borders, it will be Djokovic’s first match at the US Open since falling at the final hurdle of his grand slam attempt in 2021, where he lost in the final to Daniil Medvedev.

“It was last year during the Open that I felt it’s a pity that I’m not there,” said Djokovic. “I felt sad for not being able to participate. But this year, I mean, is this year. I don’t think about what happened in the last year or last couple of years. Just focusing my attention to this year’s tournament.”

Djokovic also commented on his burgeoning rivalry with Carlos Alcaraz. The duo may be at the opposite end of their careers but they have already built a rivalry that looks set to endure for as long as Djokovic (36) continues to pick up a racket.

“He’s always pushing me to the limit,” said the Serbian. “I think I do to him pretty much the same thing. That’s why we produced a memorable final [at Wimbledon]. It was one of the best, most exciting, and most difficult finals I was ever part of in best-of-three, no doubt, throughout my career.

“That’s why I fell on the ground after I won the match because it felt like winning a grand slam, to be honest. The amount of exchanges and rallies. It was physically so demanding and gruelling that I felt very exhausted for the next few days.

“Those are kind of the moments in matches that I still push myself on a daily basis, day in and day out, practice, sacrifice, commitment. At 36, I still have the drive.”

There are numerous interesting first rounds to come. Stefanos Tsitsipas, the seventh seed, will begin his tournament with a tough first-round match against Milos Raonic, one of the biggest servers of all time. The Canadian, who reached number three in 2016, is on the comeback trail after missing nearly two years of competition due to various injuries.

Dominic Thiem, the 2020 champion, continues his own comeback as he faces Alexander Bublik, 25th seed, in the first round. Also in action is Holger Rune, the fourth seed, who did not seem ecstatic to be playing his first match against Roberto Carballes Baeba out on Court 5. After learning of his court assignment, Rune helpfully posted a site map of the US Open grounds on X (formerly Twitter). “In case you can find court 5,” he wrote.