Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray won't meet in U.S. Open final, unlike last year

Serena Williams is the defending women's champion at the U.S. Open while Rafael Nadal is the favorite in the men's draw.

Story highlights

  • Novak Djokovic could meet Andy Murray in the semifinals at the U.S. Open
  • Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal face a potential quarterfinal showdown in New York
  • Serena Williams begins against another grand slam winner, Francesca Schiavone
  • Former winner Maria Sharapova pulled out of the tournament with a shoulder injury

They've met in three of the past four men's grand slam finals but after Thursday's draw, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic can't face each other on the last day of tennis' U.S. Open.

World No. 1 Djokovic and Murray, a winner in two of the last three majors he has played in, were placed in the same half of the draw while giants Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer could meet in the quarterfinals.

Murray ended Britain's 76-year wait for a men's singles winner at a grand slam and opened his own grand slam account when he toppled Djokovic in the 2012 final in New York.

Murray potentially must beat Djokovic and Nadal to repeat -- and he has never overcome the duo in the same fortnight at a major.

Nadal's recent surge -- he claimed back-to-back titles in Montreal and Cincinnati leading into New York -- and Murray's slump since capturing Wimbledon saw the Spaniard reclaim the No. 2 ranking.

Read: Nadal back to No. 2

As a result, Nadal and Djokovic couldn't be put in the same section.

If the seedings hold, Nadal would battle not Murray but David Ferrer in the semifinals. Nadal owns a 20-4 record versus his countryman but has had it tougher against Murray, 13-5.

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While 12-time grand slam champion Nadal and 17-time winner Federer have tangled in the finals at the three other majors, they have never faced off in any round at the U.S. Open.

Nadal downed Federer in three sets in the quarterfinals of the Cincinnati Masters last week and is unbeaten on hard courts this season. Knee troubles ruled him out of Flushing Meadows in 2012.

At No. 7, Federer is at his lowest ranking in 11 years.

Williams, Azarenka lead women's field

In the women's draw, world No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 2 Victoria Azarenka appear to be on a collision course, especially since Maria Sharapova pulled out of the tournament due to a shoulder injury.

Azarenka has played in the past three hard-court grand slam finals, winning the Australian Open twice and losing a heartbreaker to Williams at the 2012 U.S. Open. She couldn't serve out the match.

Read: Williams wins New York thriller

Azarenka edged Williams in Cincinnati on Sunday in a third-set tiebreak.

In an intriguing first-round encounter, Williams begins against Francesca Schiavone. Although the Italian is slumping, she, too, is a grand slam champion and reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals three years ago.

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