Serena faces Russian at US Open

SerenaSerena Williams is ‘pain-free’ as she begins her bid to win a record 23rd Grand Slam title at the US Open, according to the American’s coach Patrick Mouratoglou.

Williams pulled out of a tournament in Cincinnati last week with a shoulder problem that had also hampered her at the Olympics earlier this month.

The world number one faces Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova today and her coach Mouratoglou is confident the injury will not be an issue.

“She has been pain-free for a few days now,” Mouratoglou told ESPN.

‘The shoulder is still not 100 per cent but it’s very close and she will find a way. She has a lot more to her game than just the serve – she has the power and mental strength.

“She wanted to play the Olympics in Rio, it was very important for her but the shoulder was killing her. She was just putting balls in play, but that’s the past.’

Williams has two records in her sights at Flushing Meadows, where she can overtake Steffi Graf’s Open era record 22 Grand Slam titles and also surpass the German’s unbeaten 186 consecutive weeks at world number one.

How much the shoulder injury affects the 34-year-old’s game remains to be seen but she has enjoyed the benefit of rest, after avoiding lengthy excursions in either Brazil or Cincinnati.

“There’s a lot at stake for her, to break Steffi in so many different ways,” said Chris Evert, an 18-time Grand Slam champion, speaking on behalf of

“She’s had enough time off so whereas a lot of the other players seem to be a little tired after the Olympics, because it’s been a really intense, demanding summer for players who have done well at the French and Wimbledon and the Olympics. Serena on the other hand seems to be rested up.

“I think a lot of it has to do with her shoulder because that serve is the big key for her to win matches.

“Yes, she has a lot to fall back on if her serve is not working but it makes life tough for her and she wins a lot of free points on that serve.

“The women are only getting better and only gaining more confidence when they play against her.” – MailOnline

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