The whole world is watching Serena Williams as she begins play in the U.S. Open, playing for a spot in tennis history.
Not only is Serena trying to defend the title she won a year ago, she is also trying to earn a calendar-year Grand Slam after earlier wins at the Australian, French and Wimbledon Opens in 2015. She is the heavy favorite (minus-125) to win this year's tournament, according to OddsShark.
Williams is the top seed in the tournament, and she begins play Monday night against unseeded Vitalia Diatchenko of Russia. While Diatchenko is a relative unknown in the sport, the 86th-ranked player in the WTA has won one championship this year and has earned more than $180,000 while recording a 13-13 match record.
Crazy Stat of Day: Serena Williams enters US Open having been favored in 258 consecutive matches. She hasn't been an underdog since 2011.— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) August 31, 2015
It will be difficult for Diatchenko to have confidence against Williams, who has a 48-2 mark in 2015 and is also the hardest hitter on the women's tour. Her powerful serve and equally effective return make it unlikely that Diatchenko will threaten her in any way.
However, Williams is under pressure to achieve the calendar-year Grand Slam. The only other player to do it was Steffi Graf, who accomplished the feat in 1988.
Williams and Diatchenko are scheduled to get underway at 7 p.m. ET from Arthur Ashe Stadium. The match will be televised on ESPN2 and can also be live streamed on WatchESPN.
On the men's side of the draw, the featured match Monday night features eighth-seeded Rafael Nadal competing against unseeded Borna Coric of Croatia. That match is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET from Arthur Ashe Stadium.
Nadal has had a difficult season, having earned just one tournament victory while recording a 29-10 match record. Nadal has earned slightly more than $1.6 million this year, and he was recently defeated in the third round of the Western & Southern Open by Feliciano Lopez.
Nadal is a two-time champion at the U.S. Open, having won the title in 2010 and 2013. The 2013 season was a brilliant one for Nadal, as he earned more than $14.5 million while winning 10 singles titles.
The 18-year-old Coric has not won a tournament this year, but he has earned more than $350,000 while compiling a 15-14 match record. Coric's most impressive performance this year was getting to the third round of the French Open.
Gael Monfils, seeded 16th, will meet unseeded Illya Marchenko of Ukraine at 6 p.m. ET at Louis Armstrong Stadium.
|U.S. Open: Monday Night Matches (6 p.m. ET, or later)|
|Serena Williams (1)||Vitalia Diatchenko||7 p.m.||Arthur Ashe Stadium||ESPN2|
|Belinda Bencic (12)||Sesil Karatantcheva||6 p.m.||Court 5||ESPN2|
|Madison Keys (19)||Klara Koukalova||6 p.m.||Grandstand||ESPN2|
|Daniela Hantuchova||Misaki Doi||6 p.m.||Court 10||ESPN2|
|Vania King||Roberta Vinci||6 p.m.||Court 13||ESPN2|
|Kiki Bertens||Mirjana Lucic-Baroni||6 p.m.||Court 12||ESPN2|
|Tereza Smitkova||Andreea Mitu||6 p.m.||Court 15||ESPN2|
|Ana Konjuh||Tatjana Maria||6 p.m.||Court 9||ESPN2|
|Rafael Nadal (8)||Brona Coric||9 p.m.||Arthur Ashe Stadium||ESPN2|
|Gael Monfils (16)||Illya Marchenko||6 p.m.||Louis Armstrong Stadium||ESPN2|
Monfils has a 22-9 record this season, but the 28-year-old Frenchman has not been able to win any tournaments this year. He has earned slightly more than $640,000 this year. Marchenko has lost all three of his matches this year and has earned less than $100,000.
Belinda Bencic will be in action at 6 p.m. ET against Bulgarian Sesil Karatantcheva on Court 5. The 12th-seeded Bencic has won two tournaments this year and has earned more than $1.2 million. The 18-year-old Swiss player made a huge impression when she was victorious in the Rogers Cup in Toronto, beating Serena in the semifinals and then taking down Simona Halep in the championship round.
If Bencic can win a couple of early matches to gain momentum, she could have a long run in New York. Her opponent is ranked 96th in the WTA.
American Madison Keys will meet Klara Koukalova of the Czech Republic at 6 p.m. The 19th-seeded Keys has a 23-13 match record this year, but she has not won any tournaments. She was recently defeated by Petra Kvitova in the second round of the Connecticut Open. Koukalova is the 100th-ranked player in the WTA.