Eleven Past Champions Headline 2021 Western & Southern Open Singles Fields
CINCINNATI, Ohio (July 21, 2021) -Ashleigh Barty and Novak Djokovic, the No. 1 ranked players in the world who are fresh off Wimbledon titles, highlight the initial singles entry list for the 2021 Western & Southern Open.
The Top 20 players in both the ATP Tour and WTA Tour rankings have entered the event, which will be held Aug. 14-22. The field also includes 11 former tournament winners, including the defending champions Djokovic and Victoria Azarenka, both two-time Western & Southern Open winners.
Cincinnati will welcome five former champions in the WTA field, featuring Karolina Pliskova (2016), Garbiñe Muguruza (2017)and Madison Keys (2019) along with two-time champions Serena Williams and Azarenka. In addition to Djokovic, former ATP champions returning to Cincinnati in 2021 include Daniil Medvedev (2019), Rafael Nadal (2013), Grigor Dimitrov (2017), Marin Cilic (2016) and seven-time champion Roger Federer.
The women’s field is also highlighted by 13 total Major champions, with recent winners including 2020 Western & Southern Open finalist Naomi Osaka (2020 US Open, 2021 Australian Open), Barbora Krejcikova (2021 French Open), Sofia Kenin (2020 Australian Open) and Iga Swiatek (2020 French Open). Eight entrants have held WTA’s No. 1 ranking, with Azarenka, Barty, Osaka, Pliskova, Muguruza and Williams being joined by multi-time Cincinnati finalists Simona Halep and Angelique Kerber.
In addition to the wealth of experience among the women’s field, 10 participants are 23 or younger. Leading the WTA youth movement is 17-year-old Cori “Coco” Gauff, who will make her debut in Cincinnati following a quarterfinal finish in the 2021 French Open.
Djokovic’s Western & Southern Open title defense will come as he chases history this season. The winner of the year’s first three Majors, he is bidding to be the first man since Rod Laver in 1969 to complete a calendar Grand Slam. The trio of Major titles this season has drawn him level with Federer and Nadal atop the all-time list, with each having won 20 titles at Grand Slam tournaments. A trio of former US Open champions are also on the Cincinnati entry list: Dominic Thiem (2020), Stan Wawrinka (2016) and Cilic (2014).
The men’s field comprises the top 43 players in the ATP rankings and will have 11 players aged 23-or-younger competing. Leading the ATP youth charge is 19-year-old Jannik Sinner, who held a career-high ranking of 17 earlier in 2021 and reached the 2020 French Open Quarterfinals.
The top eight seeds in both draws will receive first round byes. Eight women and seven men will be added to the fields through a two-round qualifying tournament that will be held Aug. 14-15. Four men and as many as five women will be awarded wild card entries into the main draw singles fields.
Tournament action will take place Aug. 14-22, where first serve will take place at 10 a.m. on Aug. 14 for the qualifying tournament. The men’s and women’s singles finals will take place on Sunday, Aug. 22. The full schedule is available here.
If it’s the Coco and Serena show in Auckland, then the Brisbane International is the home of the Grupo Del Muerto. And indeed, there’s no place like home…unless you’re seeded in the Group of Death.
Top seed and world #1 Ash Barty hoped to take a bit of a victory lap down under and win a big home country tournament or two before the Australian Open, but the gods of the draw decided to have a little fun with her at the Brisbane International, a premier-level WTA tour event. In order for Barty to get out of her quarter, she’ll need to get by Maria Sharapova, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.
After Barty’s bye, she’ll face a very wild card in Maria Sharapova, provided Sharapova dispatches a qualifier. Barty beat Sharapova in their one and only meeting at the Western & Southern Open last summer, but you truly never know which Sharapova will show. I’ll give Barty the edge and send her on to the third round against Sloane Stephens, who beat the Australian in their only meeting at the 2017 US Open. Barty’s quest for a title to open 2020 will likely end with a Stephens victory in the quarterfinals.
(Photo by SAEED KHAN / AFP)
4 seed Elena Svitolina’s quarter is also dangerous, with Angelique Kerber, Madison Keys, Donna Vekic and Danielle Collins waiting in the wings. The Ukrainian will get past the plucky Danielle Collins in the opening round and Donna Vekic in the second before being eliminated by an in-form Madison Keys, who must defeat Kerber to get there.
Naomi Osaka, 2018 Citi Open (Photo: Mike Renz for Tennis Atlantic)
Naomi Osaka, a year wiser, is used to getting her own quarter these days and what to do with such a blessing. In a trip-up match with Sakkari, she should prevail before facing another major test in Sonia Kenin. It’s a test she should also pass before dispatching Kiki Bertens in the quarterfinals.
Karolina Pliskova has become more of a sure thing over the last year, a compliment to her maturity as a player. As such, I believe she’ll use that bye and a second round match against an Australian wild card to polish her early-season form. She’ll need the tune-up before beating Naomi Osaka in 3 sets to advance to the final against Madison Keys. In three sets, I’ll predict it’s Pliskova who begins 2020 with the Brisbane title.
Interview with Bethanie Mattek-Sands from Eastbourne 2019 Eric Han for Tennis Atlantic
I had the pleasure of talking to former world no.1 in doubles, five time Grand Slam doubles champion, and Olympic mixed doubles gold medalist, Bethanie Mattek-Sands, after her semifinals doubles victory with her partner Kirsten Flipkens. The video and the transcript of the interview is below.
Q: First tournament back since the Australian Open, and now you’re in final. Congratulations. How do you feel?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: It feels really good. I mean, for me I’ve been enjoying each match. Having a surgery, going through the rehab. I think you learn to appreciate the moment a little bit. And I’ve been having a blast with Flipkens, it was a last minute partnership. And she’s a good a friend off the court. I mean, she won last week on grass, so I felt I picked up a partner that was on good momentum. The things she comes up with that net is super impressive, so I really enjoyed playing with Kirsten out there.
Q: What did you think of the match? When you were down 5-8 in the super tiebreak, what did you say to Kirsten or what did Kirsten say to you to keep motivating each other?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: In all honesty, I’m going to be honest. On the 10 point tiebreakers, I lose track of score a lot. I’m relying on someone to tell me to I need to switch sides. It’s one thing to play the tiebreak to seven, but to play it to ten, I feel like it keeps going. So I’m like next point, alright next point, you’re serving, I’m serving, we’re returning, here’s the play.
So, I feel like, even though I wasn’t quite aware of the score, we had a good game plan. Flippers (Flipkens) is a positive person anyway, so I feel like we both have good energy out there and that’s kind of the key whether you’re up or down and its what win matches and we were able to close it out.
Q: You’ve played both singles and doubles in your career what would you say are the differences? What do you have to adjust when you have to play singles and doubles?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: You definitely adjust your targets. I just think they are two different game plans. I mean, you do have some players that play singles and very good doubles players. Then you have some singles players, that don’t play a lot of doubles. I think there’s a big aspect of communication, a big aspect of a different strategy, and I don’t even like to kind of compare them. I feel when I’m getting ready for a doubles match, it’s a different strategy when I’m getting ready for singles. It’s still a little bit different, I think it’s fun to have your partner out there, someone to talk to. Singles, you’re out there by yourself and it’s a different game. And for right now, I’m playing doubles and mixed doubles at Wimbledon, double here. So I get to have someone to talk to, have my partner. So I’m just really enjoying it,
Q: Ash Barty, who you’ve played against in singles and doubles a few times. She won her maiden Grand Slam in Paris last month. Were you surprised that her first singles Grand Slam was on clay, rather than on Wimbledon as people thought that’s her preferred surface?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: No, I don’t think so. I feel like she has actually won Rome doubles last year. And I think she won it again it this year. She’s an all court player, and I think right now if you have an all-court game, you can play on any surface. You can transition from clay, to hard, to grass. She mixes in that slice really well and comes to the net. And I feel like you can come to the net on all surfaces. And that’s going to be a good game plan. I don’t see her changing it up for grass. She’s an exciting player to watch, and I’ll be rooting for her.
Q: Speaking about Ash, she took time away from tennis to play cricket because she felt too much pressure, tension. Considering how long a tennis season is, nearly 11 months, do you think it is more beneficial for players to take mental health breaks?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: You know what, I gotta give her a lot of credit for doing that. Because she came out of juniors, and she was a highly touted junior. I played her actually, one of her first tournaments, in Hobart I think a long time ago. And she was a great junior player. And for her to say, its too much pressure, I’m not enjoying it. Because Ash is one of these players, she really enjoys going out there, she plays smooth, she plays her game, she talks about playing her brand of tennis. And I really give her a lot of credit for taking that break. And I don’t think its the worst thing. For me, my breaks have come from injuries. I’ve been out for some months at times and it wasn’t necessarily my choice. I think it’s not only good for the body, but also for the mind, tennis is a game and it is a long season, so I think it’s important to kind of to take your breaks when you can and enjoy it. I pick and choose the tournaments I want to play, but I give myself weeks off and days off. After a long swing of tournaments, I’ll take a couple of days to enjoy somewhere around the world. Otherwise, it’s just playing, trains, automobiles, courts, practice, and it’s just kind of this vicious cycle till November. So I think that’s helped me a lot, but again, I’ve taken some time off for my injuries and enjoyed my life off the court, so I think balance is important- really really important.
Q: Do you have any examples in your own career that you should’ve felt I could’ve taken a mental health break? Because it was too much for me, the media attention or whatever. Do you have any examples?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: For me, like I said, I took some time off around my injuries. And you know, it’s easy to say I was forced to take some time off. But I think I decided to rather than feel pressured to come back quick, I really enjoyed my time at home. I enjoyed my time with friends, and I think that’s the biggest shift of my career. If you would’ve talked to me when I was younger, I would’ve said I maybe burned out myself a little and didn’t enjoy tennis. And thinking back, it makes me a little sad, because tennis is a fun game, and even though there is pressure, and that’s why you have a team around you. And that’s why you have a normal life outside of tennis. And when I see that players that kind of have some good balance, they are generally the ones that play longer, they play the season, they can deal with losing early, and then those wins because week to week, you could be at a high, and next week you lose first round four days later! So I think it’s important to have a good balance and I feel like I’ve been able to do that, within my schedule.
Q: Yesterday, it was announced the Fed Cup would change its format to the Davis Cup. I spoke with Simona Halep yesterday about it in the press conference, she said she would possibly boycott it. Because she won’t be able to feel the atmosphere at home. What do you think?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: You know what? It’s a topic we’ve talked about a lot over the last few years. We needed to find a way that the Fed Cup could fit in our schedule as well. The final was played in November, then we had two other weeks. It was tough to add more weeks onto the player’s schedules. So we’re gonna continue the talks right now. I’m actually on the player’s council, so we’re gonna talk to the ITF, the Fed Cup, and kind of come up with a win-win scenario and see what we can do about it. I think it’s very important for everyone to represent their country. I will say that, we come to tournaments like Eastbourne, it says Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and it says USA. We’re all really proud of our countries, whether we’re playing Fed Cup or Olympics or just week to week in the tournaments. But I think, it’s important to get behind some of these countries and get them excited about tennis, and their players, and that’s really my goal with Fed Cup. It’s how we can create that excitement with all these different countries and getting behind these local girls!
Q: Since we are on the topic of playing for your own country. Next year is the Olympics. Do you have any goals or have any given any thought to it?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Of course! Rio was my first Olympics, and I got a gold with Jack Sock in mixed doubles. So one of the big goals right now is to make the 2020 team. There’s a lot of time between now and then, a lot of tournaments. So it’s definitely in the horizon, but I would love to be in Tokyo. It was such a great experience in Rio, that I want to do it again.
Q: On the men’s side there is the Laver Cup. It has become a huge success, mainly due to the players showing a lot of passion for the event. Would you like to see the women’s being incorporated? Or perhaps creating a women’s only event similar to the Laver Cup. Would this be something you are interested in to take part?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Definitely! I would definitely take part. I think it’s one of the fun things to watch the Laver Cup for is how excited the players are getting out of it They have a short scoring short format, and makes the games and points exciting. They really did a great job on social media, everyone’s posting about it. They did a great job on fan engagement and interaction, and I think that’s what fans want, they want to get close and get in the action with the players, and they want to see the emotions, and I think it was a great competition. The women’s will definitely have something, whether that’s with the men with Laver cup or our own thing. We’ll definitely do something like that in the future
Q: Who would your dreams mixed doubles and doubles partner be from Team World?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: I mean, Team World is stacked! I won with Jack (Sock), he’s unreal in doubles. When he gets those forehands, he punishes the ball, so I’m gonna throw Jack out there again. Women’s doubles from Team World… I’m going to have to go with…. so, Australia, I’m going to ask Ash Barty.
Q: Last question, Olympic singles gold medal, or a Grand Slam singles runners up?
Bethanie Mattek-Sands: Or a runners up?! You gotta go with the win. I think they’re both important. I mean, Olympics comes every four years so its a little bit more unique. But I want it all! Who doesn’t want it all? I want all the trophies!
TWO-TIME NCAA SINGLES CHAMPION NICOLE GIBBS, USTA GIRLS’ 18s CHAMPION SACHIA VICKERY AMONG US OPEN WOMEN’S WILD CARDS
Former World No. 1 Junior Taylor Townsend, Local teens Louisa Chirico and Jamie Loeb among Qualifying WC Recipients
FLUSHING, N.Y., August 14, 2013 – The USTA announced today that two-time NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs, U.S. Fed Cup team member Vania King, rising young Americans Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers and Maria Sanchez and USTA Girls’ 18s national champion Sachia Vickery are among those receiving wild-card entries into the 2013 US Open. Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and France’s Pauline Parmentier also will receive US Open main draw wild cards.
The 2013 US Open will be played August 26-September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, N.Y. Both the men’s and women’s singles champions this year will earn $2.6 million, the largest payout in tennis history, with the ability to earn an additional $1 million in bonus prize money – for a total $3.6 million potential payout – based on their performances in the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
Gibbs, 20, of Santa Monica, Calif., won her second consecutive NCAA singles title this year as a junior at Stanford. Gibbs turned pro this summer and won the singles title at the USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 event in Yakima, Wash., ascending to a career-high rank of No. 166. She is now ranked No. 172.
King, 24, of Boynton Beach, Fla., has finished in the Top 100 each of the past four years. Once ranked No. 50 in the world, King won her first WTA singles titles as a teenager in Bangkok in 2006 and has represented the U.S. in Fed Cup eight times from 2006 to 2011. This year, she qualified for both the French Open and Wimbledon, reaching the second round at Roland Garros.
Riske, 23, of Pittsburgh, reached the semifinals of the WTA event in Birmingham, England, this summer, where all of her WTA main draw wins had come to that point. Then, after receiving a wild card into the Wimbledon main draw, she reached the third round there and broke into the Top 100 for the first time shortly thereafter. She is now ranked No. 98.
Sanchez, 23, of Modesto, Calif., once was the No. 1-ranked college singles player at the University of Southern California and has been hovering around the Top 100 much of this year. Now ranked No. 113, Sanchez won singles titles at both $75,000 and $50,000 USTA Pro Circuit events in 2012.
Rogers, 20, of Charleston, S.C., earned her US Open wild card as the top American points earner at select USTA Pro Circuit hard-court events this summer. Rogers, who earned a USTA wild card into the 2013 French Open the same way and reached the second round at Roland Garros, has won two USTA Pro Circuit $50,000 titles in 2013. She is ranked No. 132.
Vickery, 18, of Hollywood, Fla., received a US Open wild card after winning the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships singles title. Formerly the No. 6-ranked junior in the world, Vickery is now at a career-high pro ranking of No. 229. She trains at the USTA Player Development Headquarters in Boca Raton, Fla.
Barty, 17, of Ipswich, Australia, received a wild card through a reciprocal agreement with Tennis Australia, which will grant an American a wild card into the 2014 Australian Open, to be determined by a USTA playoff. (Madison Keys was the 2013 winner.) The 2011 Wimbledon girls’ singles champion, Barty was a women’s doubles finalist at both Wimbledon and the Australian Open this year.
Parmentier, 27, of Paris, France, received her wild card through a reciprocal agreement with the French Tennis Federation, which awarded a wild card into the 2013 French Open to an American player designated by the USTA. (Shelby Rogers won the USTA Pro Circuit event-based system this year.) A former Top 40 player, Parmentier reached the third round of the 2012 US Open and has been in the Top 100 for most of 2013.
In addition to the eight US Open women’s singles main draw wild cards, the USTA also announced eight women who have been awarded wild card entries into the US Open Qualifying Tournament, which will be held August 20-23 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. One additional US Open qualifying wild card will be awarded to the winner of the 2013 US Open National Playoffs – Women’s Championship, taking place August 16-19 in New Haven, Conn.
Players receiving 2013 US Open qualifying wild cards are: Jan Abaza (18, Deerfield Beach, Fla.), who has won two pro doubles titles in 2013; Brooke Austin (17, Indianapolis, Ind.), a USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships semifinalist; local teenager Louisa Chirico (17, Harrison, N.Y.), who reached the girls’ singles semifinals at both the French Open and Wimbledon this year; Victoria Duval (18, Delray Beach, Fla.), the 2012 USTA Girls’ 18s national champion; Allie Kiick (18, Plantation, Fla.), this USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships singles runner-up and doubles champion each of the last two years; local teenager Jamie Loeb (18, Ossining, N.Y.), a 2013 Wimbledon junior singles quarterfinalist; Brianna Morgan (19, Beverly Hills, Calif.), a freshman at Florida this year who won her first pro singles title in June; and Taylor Townsend (17, Chicago), who made history in 2012 as the first American girl in 30 years to hold the year-end No. 1 world junior ranking.
The 2013 US Open will be held Monday, Aug. 26, through Monday, Sept. 9. Tickets for the 2013 US Open can be purchased four ways: 1) at USOpen.org; 2) by calling Ticketmaster at 1-866-OPEN-TIX; 3) at all Ticketmaster outlets; or 4) at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center box office.