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Sharapova to meet Halep in first round at U.S. Open

Aug 20, 2017; Mason, OH, USA; Simona Halep (ROU) serves against Garbine Muguruza (ESP) in the finals during the Western and Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo
Aug 20, 2017; Mason, OH, USA; Simona Halep (ROU) serves against Garbine Muguruza (ESP) in the finals during the Western and Southern Open at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports/File Photo

(Reuters) - Former world number one Maria Sharapova's return to grand slam action will begin with a first-round clash against second seed Simona Halep while Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal could meet in the U.S. Open semi-finals, according to Friday's draw.

For Sharapova, a five-times grand slam champion who returned from a doping ban in April and was awarded a wild-card invitation to the U.S. Open, it will mark her first match since pulling out of the Stanford Classic earlier this month with an arm injury.

The 30-year-old Russian, who was banned after testing positive for heart drug meldonium at the 2016 Australian Open, has had mixed results since re-joining the WTA Tour and will need to be at her best early to keep alive any hope of her first title at Flushing Meadows since 2006.

Swiss third seed Federer, who is seeking his third grand-slam title of the year after wins at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, will open his quest for a sixth U.S. Open triumph against American Frances Tiafoe.

Federer, who has been enjoying a remarkable campaign after missing the last six months of 2016 to heal his knee, would face two-times champion and longtime rival Nadal in the semi-finals should the top half of the draw go according to seed.

British second seed Andy Murray, who is returning from a hip injury that forced him to miss all the U.S. Open tune-up events, will play American Tennys Sandgren in the opening round.

The U.S. Open will be played Aug. 28-Sept. 10 in New York.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto)

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