The women's singles draw was revealed on Thursday, and the 28th-seeded former world No. 1 Serena could face a tough test against Azarenka in the round of 32 in the top half. If Serena can get past Azarenka, the powerful American appears to have a nice path into the semifinals.
The 13-time major titlist Serena will open her 2011 U.S. Open against Serbian Bojana Jovanovski, while Azarenka, who titled in Miami earlier this year and reached her first career major semifinal at Wimbledon last month, will open her Big Apple stay against Swede Johanna Larsson.
The 29-year-old Serena is riding a 12-match winning streak and has been playing some great tennis since returning to action in June. The former No. 1 star was sidelined for 11 months because of a series of health issues and was forced to miss last year's U.S. Open.
The top seed, Caroline Wozniacki, will open up against Spaniard Nuria Llagostera Vives and could face former U.S. Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round. The 2009 U.S. Open runner-up Wozniacki could meet sixth- seeded Li Na in the quarterfinals. Li was this year's French Open champion and Aussie Open runner-up and will battle Romanian Simona Halep in her opener next week.
Potential semifinal opponents for Wozniacki could be Serena or Azarenka. Serena or Azarenka could face seventh-seeded French Open runner-up and 2010 Roland Garros titlist Francesca Schiavone in the quarterfinals. Schiavone will open up against a qualifier next week.
In the bottom half of the draw, third-seeded Maria Sharapova will open against Brit Heather Watson and appears to have some smooth sailing into the quarters, where she could meet fifth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a rematch of last month's Wimbledon final, which was won by the rising Czech slugger. Kvitova will open against Romanian Alexandra Dulgheru.
The three-time Grand Slam champion Sharapova, fresh off her title in Cincinnati, or Kvitova could meet second-seeded 2010 U.S. Open runner-up Vera Zvonareva or two-time U.S. Open champion Venus Williams in the semifinals.
Zvonareva will open against a qualifier and could meet an unseeded Venus in the fourth round or eighth-seeded Wimbledon semifinalist Marion Bartoli in the quarters.
The seven-time major champion Venus, currently ranked 36th in the world, will open up against Russian Vesna Dolonts next week.
Kim Clijsters, who beat Zvonareva in last year's U.S. Open final for her second straight title in New York, will skip the 2011 edition of the year's final major because of an abdominal injury.
This year's U.S. Open singles champ will pocket at least $1.8 million, and the U.S. Open Series winner Serena has a shot at earning a record $2.8 million in Flushing.
The 2011 U.S. Open will commence Monday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.