2016 @CincyTennis Women’s Preview, Predictions
Niall Clarke, Tennis Atlantic
The Western and Southern Open
Location: Cincinnati, USA
Prize money: $2,503,250
Date: August 15-21
Top eight seeds
- Serena Williams
- Angelique Kerber
- Simona Halep
- Garbine Muguruza
- Agnieszka Radwanska
- Roberta Vinci
- Svetlana Kuznetsova
- Dominika Cibulkova
First round matches to watch
Andrea Petkovic vs Lucie Safarova: Both Safarova and Petkovic are shadows of their former top 10 selves, however they have an extremely close head to head which makes this particular opening round match unpredictable.
They have met six times on hard courts and they have split the victories down the middle. A clay court victory for the German is the only thing separating them in the head to head.
Safarova has the more firepower, it is a faster court, and she is performing at a higher level currently, so the Czech heads into the match as a slight favourite. However, Petkovic’s counter attacking style can cause problems though, so this is an interesting stylistic match-up.
Sara Errani vs Coco Vandeweghe: Speaking of stylistic contrasts, this match is a classic example of that. Vandeweghe, known for her big serve and groundstrokes will face Errani who is known for her quickness and consistency from the baseline.
The faster courts should suit the American, who will also have the home advantage. However their only previous meeting came at Wimbledon in which Errani prevailed as an easy victor. The match will depend on the level of Vandeweghe as she possesses the bigger weapons, a poor performance will lead to a loss to the more consistent player.
Serena’s quarter: The world number one received a wildcard into the tournament after failing to defend her Olympic title. As a seed she will receive an opening round BYE and will play either Christina McHale or a qualifier in her opening match. McHale has given Serena trouble in the past so look out for that encounter. Karolina Pliskova is the other seed in the section, but the Czech is not enjoying as good of a season as 2015. She will open up against either Anna Schmiedlova or Jelena Ostapenko before likely meeting Serena in round three.
Svetlana Kuznetsova had plenty to say about the organisation in Rio, but she should be happier in Cincinnati, where she could do some damage. The Russian will meet a qualifier in round two, but that will not be easy given the strong qualifying field. Timea Bacsinszky is one of the players who will arrive late from Rio due to the doubles final, but the Swiss has the advantage of a BYE. The 12th seed will meet either a qualifier or Lesia Tsurenko before a possible meeting with Kuznetsova.
Muguruza’s quarter: Muguruza is short of form and confidence and could be an early exit contender in Cincinnati. Errani or Vandeweghe will meet the Spaniard and will fancy their chances of upsetting the fourth seed. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova therefore will look at this as a chance to make a good run to the quarter finals or better. The Russian will likely meet compatriot Ekaterina Makarova in the second round. Makarova will be a late arrival from Rio due to the doubles final and could suffer from fatigue as a result.
Belinda Bencic returns to action this week after months of injury problems. The Swiss will likely not be at her best, and the in form Olympic Gold medallist Monica Puig may send the 13th seed packing early. The Puerto Rican faces young American wildcard Louisa Chirico in the opening round, she has also had injury problems. With Muguruza’s poor form, Cibulkova will see this is a chance of making the semi finals. The Slovakian will have a tough match against Irina Begu in the second round however, and Puig’s form could be a factor.
Halep’s quarter: Halep decided against going to the Rio Olympics so comes into Cincinnati fresh. Does she regret her decision? Who knows. But one thing is for sure, she will fight for the title this week. Annika Beck or Yulia Putintseva will open Halep’s tournament in the second round. Elina Svitolina is projected to be the third round opponent, but the Ukrainian will have a tough test against either Caroline Garcia or Daria Gavrilova.
Agnieszka Radwanska will look to put her Olympic misery behind her with a good run here in the build up to the US Open. The Pole has a tough round two of her own against either Petkovic or Safarova. Johanna Konta, who has been in good form lately is the likely third round opponent. The Brit could possibly face Ana Ivanovic in round two.
Kerber’s quarter: Kerber had to settle for a silver medal in Rio, but her week was positive on the whole. The German has a chance of becoming the world number one this week, providing she wins the title and Serena loses early. Kristina Mladenovic or Kateryna Bondarenko await in round two, then it will either be Sam Stosur, Barbora Strycova, or Eugenie Bouchard- a tough draw for the second seed.
Roberta Vinci’s poor form could leave the sixth seed vulnerable to an early exit. Daria Kasatkina or Tsvetana Pironkova will look to prove that said upset. Carla Suarez Navarro will be keen to take advantage by making the quarter finals. The Spaniard will face either Kiki Bertens or Alize Cornet in round two before potentially meeting Vinci, Kasatkina or Pironkova in the third round.
Serena def. Bacsinszky
Cibulkova def. Pavlyuchenkova
Halep def. Radwanska
Kerber def. Suarez Navarro
Serena def. Cibulkova
Halep def. Kerber
“Gold medal match”:
Serena def. Radwanska
Serena will be keen to hold on to her number one ranking, so expect her to be firing this week. Halep will make the final due to the fact she has had ideal time to rest and prepare due to skipping the Olympics.