Tough qualifying draw for Somdev

Serena Williams eyes firmly set on retaining US Open title

Serena Williams

Somdev, ranked 161st, has failed in his three attempts to qualify for a Grand Slam.

Placed in the bottom of the draw, Somdev has been pitted against the American 16th seed, who was once a top-100 player but currently ranked 133rd, in the first round of the qualifying event at the Flushing Meadows.

Somdev had an upper hand over Bogomolov Jr as the Indian had beaten his American opponent in a ATP qualifying event in Los Angeles in July.

Another Indian in the fray is Prakash Amritraj, who will begin his campaign against Colombia’s Alejandro Falla, seeded 32.

It will be their first meeting at any level in competitive tennis.

Sania Mirza will yet again present Indian challenge in the women’s singles and Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi will play  in the doubles event along with their respective partners.

The main draw of the event will start on August 31.

Serena’s mission

Serena Williams is prepared to go without another victory this year, as long as she mounts a successful title defence at next week's US Open.

"I have to stay focused and consistent and, most importantly, hungry," the American said in an interview ahead of the season's final Major which starts on August 31.

Williams, who took her haul of grand slam crowns to 11 by winning the Australian Open and Wimbledon earlier this year, said she would not be satisfied with two Majors in 2009.

"If I crashed out at the Open for no reason I'd have to win everything else the rest of the year," she said. "I'd win zero tournaments in order to win the Open again."

Williams has had a mediocre year outside of the grand slams, reaching only one other final, at the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami in April when she lost to Belarussian Victoria Azarenka.

After beating her sister Venus to land a third Wimbledon title in July, world number two Serena had a chance to grab top spot from Russia's Dinara Safina ahead of the US Open.

She failed to take her opportunity, though, losing in the quarterfinals of the Stanford Classic in California, in the third round of the Cincinnati Open and again in the semifinals of last week's Toronto Cup.

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