2018 ATP Cincinnati Features the Return of Roger Federer and a Nadal/Djokovic Quarter Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The 2018 Cincinnati Masters is the final Masters 1000 of the Summer hard court season and the primary US Open prep for most of the ATP’s best. Here is your look at all the action in Mason, Ohio this week.
Rafael Nadal is in the Rogers Cup final and playing great right now, however fitness could be a concern. He’ll start against a qualifier or Milos Raonic, I like Raonic to pull the upset simply because Rafa should be in need of a rest after Toronto. Look for wild card Frances Tiafoe to benefit in a big way here. Tiafoe has to get past Denis Shapovalov first, but presuming he does that Kyle Edmund/Mackenzie McDonald is beatable right now, and Raonic just lost to Tiafoe in Canada. Look for Tiafoe to emerge as an unlikely quarterfinalist.
Novak Djokovic looks set to ease past Steve Johnson and Adrian Mannarino/Marco Cecchinato. While Djokovic disappointed in Toronto he still looks healthy and focused, that should help him defeat Grigor Dimitrov in the third round after Dimitrov defeats Damir Dzumhur/Mischa Zverev.
Alexander Zverev has had a good summer and it would be made better if he could win Cincy. The young German will start against an in-form Robin Haase or Filip Krajinovic, with most likely Pablo Carreno Busta waiting on deck. Richard Gasquet returns from injury vs. PCB while Max Marterer or a qualifier await in round 2. This is Zverev’s section to lose.
Marin Cilic is playing well, he should defeat Philipp Kohlschreiber or a qualifier, and then John Isner or the Toronto semifinalist Karen Khachanov to reach the quarterfinals. Isner faces Sam Querrey first, while Khachanov drew a struggling Albert Ramos. Cilic over Isner is my pick as Khachanov should be fatigued.
Juan Martin Del Potro drew either Hyeon Chung or Jack Sock first. That would normally be a tough matchup but under current circumstances JMDP is a heavy favorite as Chung is still rusty and Sock is in the worst form of his career. I’ll back Borna Coric over a qualifier and a struggling Nick Kyrgios/qualifier to reach the third round before falling to Del Potro.
Toronto finalist Stefanos Tsitsipas is slated to face David Goffin first, while the player he defeated in the semis, Kevin Anderson, is in the same section. If Tsitsipas plays I’ll back him to beat a struggling Goffin and then Benoit Paire or a soon to retire David Ferrer before Anderson gets his revenge and wins in round 3. Anderson has to get past Jeremy Chardy/Fernando Verdasco to reach that point.
Roger Federer returns to tour and should breeze past Joao Sousa/Peter Gojowczyk before facing Andy Murray round 3. Expect Murray to put up a fight after beating Lucas Pouille and Leonardo Mayer/qualifier, but he shouldn’t be at the level yet to beat Federer.
I’ll back Andrey Rublev to upset Kei Nishikori in round 1, as Nishikori was poor in Toronto. Diego Schwartzman should benefit, I’ll back DSS to defeat Stan Wawrinka and then Rublev to reach round 3 opposite Dominic Thiem. Thiem is struggling and should be on upset alert against Marton Fucsovics/qualifier. I’ll back Schwartzman or Rublev to win the section.
2017 ATP Cincinnati Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final Masters 1000 tournament of the North American Summer is in Mason, Ohio, of course. Tennis Atlantic will have on-site coverage as most of the top ATP players perform their final tune ups prior to the 2017 US Open in New York.
Western & Southern Open
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
August 13-20, 2017
Cincinnati, OH, USA
Prize Money: $4,973,120
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Rafael Nadal (2)
2: Roger Federer (3)
3: Dominic Thiem (7)
4: Alexander Zverev (8)
5: Kei Nishikori (9)*
6: Milos Raonic (10)
7: Grigor Dimitrov (11)
8: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (12)
Kei Nishikori withdrew after the draw was made with an injury, he joins both of last year’s finalists Andy Murray and Marin Cilic, and of course Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka as major outs for Cincy.
First round matchups to watch:
(9)David Goffin vs. Nick Kyrgios
Kyrgios played well in Montreal and is 2-0 against Goffin. On hard court he has a great shot to pull an upset in this matchup, as Goffin isn’t setting the world on fire in terms of his form, having lost in round 2 in Montreal.
Robin Haase vs. Adrian Mannarino
Mannarino is 5-2 in his last seven matches, Haase comes off the semifinals in Montreal, as he had a fantastic week last week. Both players are playing some of the best tennis of their careers, Mannarino’s flat hitting likely gives him a slight edge.
Mischa Zverev vs. Fernando Verdasco
Zverev is struggling and has never beaten Verdasco (0-4), Verdasco is in poor form as well, so Zverev actually has a good chance to get his first career win against the Spaniard and find some confidence before the US Open.
Steve Johnson vs. David Ferrer
Johnson has lost three straight matches and has never beaten Ferrer. Playing on American hard courts, Johnson should make his best effort, but Ferrer has been finding ways to grind out wins lately.
(10)Tomas Berdych vs. Juan Martin Del Potro
These veteran big hitters have a tied h2h of 4-4, Berdych is playing well, presuming he’s fit. Del Potro has not been in great form on hard courts this summer. A healthy Berdych should be stronger than JMDP, but Del Potro could always rise to the occasion.
Rafael Nadal will face either Richard Gasquet or qualifier J.P. Smith. Nadal is a former Cincy champ and should defeat Gasquet, Big server Gilles Muller beat Ryan Harrison in round 1, either qualifier Mikhail Youzhny or Albert Ramos awaits in round 2, Nadal over Muller looks to be a sensible pick in round 3. Look for Kevin Anderson vs. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round 3, Anderson faces off with qualifier Alex Dolgopolov in round 1, Anderson is 7-2 in his last two tournaments, he should beat Kyrgios or Goffin in round 2 in what would be an exciting matchup. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga should find form and beat either Ivo Karlovic or Jiri Vesely, both of whom are struggling in their own right. Anderson has a clear edge over Tsonga and should reach the quarterfinals.
Sam Querrey or Dominic Thiem look well position to take advantage of the opening in the draw left by Kei Nishikori’s injury. Thiem should improve his struggling form against Daniil Medvedev or Fabio Fognini, Querrey will be tested by Mannarino or Haase after beating Stefan Kozlov. Querrey is playing some of the best tennis of his career though, and will be favored until he reaches Thiem, where I have him pulling the upset.
Look for Ferrer to beat Johnson, then a lucky loser, before running into Mischa Zverev in round 3. After Verdasco Zverev will face Pablo Carreno Busta or Paolo Lorenzi, Carreno Busta hasn’t been fit lately, thus I tip Zverev in round 2, with Ferrer set to capitalize the most in this section.
Seven-time Cincy champ Roger Federer should brush off a finals defeat in Montreal to defeat either Diego Schwartzman or Karen Khachanov. Schwartzman rose up to make quarters in Montreal and appears to be improving. Jack Sock should beat Yuichi Sugita and either qualifier Joao Sousa or Kyle Edmund. Sousa is in great form, but Sock on hard courts with his forehand should be too much. Federer over Sock is the pick for round 3.
Hyeon Chung or a struggling Feliciano Lopez will meet Grigor Dimitrov in round 2, Dimitrov should beat the next-gen Korean before facing most likely Tomas Berdych round 3. After Del Potro it will be Mitch Krueger or Benoit Paire against Berdych. I give Dimitrov a slight advantage to reach the quarterfinals and take advantage of a big opportunity this week.
Washington and Montreal champion Alexander Zverev is red-hot, Zverev should beat either Frances Tiafoe or his countryman Max Marterer in round 2. John Isner or Donald Young await in round 3, Isner just beat Viktor Troicki while Young faces Tommy Paul. Isner with his big serve could nip Zverev, but even with the fatigue factor the young gun should reach the quarters.
Despite his awful play last week in Montreal, I have a feeling Milos Raonic can turn things around in Cincy. Borna Coric or a struggling Nikoloz Basilashvili will be his round 2 opponent, Roberto Bautista Agut should beat Jared Donaldson and then Gael Monfils (or Chris Eubanks) in round 2. Monfils lost to RBA last week in Montreal, and the Spaniard’s good form should continue. I have Raonic beating Bautista Agut in the third round.
Dark Horse: Adrian Mannarino
If Mannarino can beat Haase and Querrey he could break out in the section that is missing Nishikori. The Frenchman was excellent last week in Montreal and is playing well enough to pull off that feat and put up another great Masters performance.
Quarters Nadal d. Anderson
Querrey d. Ferrer
Raonic d. Zverev
Federer d. Dimitrov
I have Zverev running out of steam in the quarters, while Querrey should break through to Masters semi.
Semis Nadal d. Querrey
Federer d. Raonic
Look for Nadal and Federer to battle for world #1 this week, with Federer coming out on top, largely due to his success in Cincy over the years.
2016 ATP Cincinnati Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The field at the 2016 Western and Southern Open is still somewhat up in the air due to the Olympic games finishing up, but it’s a Masters 1000 event, and the final big tune up for most ATP players before the 2016 US Open. Here is a preview, with predictions.
Western & Southern Open
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Cincinnati, OH, USA
August 14-21, 2016
Prize Money: $4,362,385
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Andy Murray (2)
2: Stan Wawrinka (4)
3: Rafael Nadal (5)
4: Milos Raonic (6)
5: Kei Nishikori (7)
6: Tomas Berdych (8)
7: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (9)
8: Dominic Thiem (10)
I honestly don’t expect Andy Murray to play here, given he’s in the Olympic final down in Rio. Djokovic, and of course Federer are also absent here, as Novak struggled in Rio and needed a break. American Jack Sock is the only other notable player missing from the draw. We could also see Nadal and Nishikori skip because they are contesting the Bronze medal match at the Olympics.
Both hard court matches between this pair have been close. Dolgo has lost four straight and has had a miserable summer. Anderson has lost a pair of matches in his last two touranaments and has had a horrible season while struggling to stay healthy. Anderson is the favorite, and with both players slumping before the US Open, they badly need a win.
(9)Gael Monfils vs. Pablo Carreno Busta
Monfils is 2-1 in the h2h against PCB and he’s a remarkable 12-2 since Wimbledon, all on hard courts. The Frenchman is a US Open dark horse, and he narrowly lost out at the medal round in the Olympics. PCB showed surprising form, reaching the semis in Cabo on hard courts, and could give Monfils a bit of a test in the opening round.
(14)Nick Kyrgios vs. Lucas Pouille
The Atlanta champion Kyrgios should serve his way past fellow young gun Pouille, but Pouille is steadier than Kyrgios, and has had a great season in his own right. These young talents are likely to face off for years to come, and this could be a great match.
Opelka reached the semis in Atlanta on US soil, and also won a round in Cabo. He’s burst onto the scene, with a game that matches fellow tall players John Isner, Kevin Anderson and Milos Raonic most notably. This young American is looking to continue his momentum on the ATP level against the veteran Frenchman Chardy who has lost three straight and hasn’t been healthy recently. An upset looks to be in the cards.
Gilles Simon vs. Grigor Dimitrov
Simon won their first four matches, but Dimitrov has won two of the last three, which all took place this season. Dimitrov was bounced early in the Olympics, but he did reach the quarters in Toronto and has shown spotty form. The Bulgarian is more talented than Simon, but Simon is more consistent. It’s a match that is tough to predict, but I give Dimitrov a slight edge.
Andy Murray has won Cincy twice, and as mentioned, I could very well see him being replaced by a lucky loser. His first opponent will be either Juan Monaco, or more likely the red hot Cabo champion Ivo Karlovic. The big serving Karlovic has been playing great, and has two ATP titles this summer. Presuming he’s not too fatigued, I’m going with an upset and having him knock off Murray if he plays, simply due to the Rio hangover factor. The Anderson/Dolgo winner is struggling, which means Richard Gasquet should probably win his first two matches since Wimbledon (he opens against a qualifier) to reach the third round and setup a match with Karlovic or Murray that he has a good shot at winning. Presuming he’s fit, I have Karlovic getting past Gasquet.
Kei Nishikori reached the Bronze medal match in Rio and may withdrawal as well, he’d open with Taylor Fritz or a qualifier, and I have David Goffin emerging from his section to reach the quarters. Goffin will face Janko Tipsarevic if he plays, Tipsarevic comes off a strong challenger showing across the world in China. Joao Sousa or Bernard Tomic will follow for Goffin, both are struggling. Goffin won a pair of matches in the Olympics and should get past Sousa. I have Fritz reaching round 3, because I’m unsure what is going to happen with Nishikori.
Milos Raonic should benefit from the top half of the draw opening up because of the Olympics. The Canadian #1 skipped Rio, and should be able to get past John Isner or Fabio Fognini, and then Roberto Bautista Agut or Alex Zverev to reach the quarters. Raonic lost in the quarters in Toronto, and he’d like to do better than that this tournament. Isner reached the final in Atlanta, but Raonic plays the same game at a higher level. RBA has been consistently solid, and he reached the quarters in Rio, I have Zverev advancing because he should be fresher though. The German faces a qualifier while RBA faces serve and volley expert Nicolas Mahut.
Monfils should dominate his section and reach the quarters, presuming he’s healthy. That would setup a Toronto rematch with Raonic most likely. After round 1, the Frenchman would face either Marcos Baghdatis or Vasek Pospisil, with Dominic Thiem likely to follow in round 3, as long as Thiem beats a qualifier. The Austrian hasn’t been healthy recently as his body has been breaking down after a grueling schedule. Monfils thus has the edge. He dispatched Pospisil in Rio.
If Rafael Nadal plays after a grueling run in both singles and doubles in Rio, he’d face Pablo Cuevas or Sam Querrey in his first match. Given he was still taking it easy on his wrist prior to Rio, I’m relatively confident he’ll withdrawal after the Bronze medal match, but if he plays, he should lose to Nick Kyrgios round 3, if Querrey doesn’t knock him off. Borna Coric and Benoit Paire are also in this section. The young gun Coric would love to challenge Kyrgios but I don’t see him doing that with his poor recent form, while the erratic Paire was kicked off the French Olympic team for bad behavior. Querrey also hasn’t been playing well, meaning Kyrgios is the clear favorite.
I’d be surprised if a fresh Tomas Berdych can’t do something with his open section. Berdych gets a qualifier or Marcel Granollers first up, with most likely Marin Cilic to follow in round 3, presuming Cilic beats Viktor Troicki and the winner of Fernando Verdasco/Albert Ramos. Troicki has been in miserable form, but he’s won five straight against Cilic, who has been on and off this season. Verdasco simply isn’t as good as Cilic these days, and thus I have it Berdych over Cilic for the quarterfinal spot. The h2h is 6-4 in favor of the Czech.
Stan Wawrinka reached the semis in Toronto, and despite it not being a standout year for him, he stands alone for Swiss tennis right now with Federer out, and he should dispatch Jared Donaldson/Nicolas Almagro, and Feliciano Lopez (or a qualifier), or the Dimitrov/Simon winner to reach the quarters. I have Dimitrov getting past a likely fatigued Lopez, who reached the finals in Cabo, to reach round 3. Wawrinka should power past him at that stage.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will face Opelka or Chardy, followed by most likely a struggling David Ferrer in round 3. I have Steve Johnson beating Federico Delbonis, and then upsetting Ferrer, after Ferrer beats Julien Benneteau, to reach the third round however. Ferrer has been in terrible form in recent weeks. The Olympic quarterfinalist Johnson is playing on home soil, is solid on hard courts, and faces a Ferrer and Tsonga who are struggling right now. Although he’s not the favorite, I have him reaching the quarters. He’s beaten Tsonga before.
Dark Horses: Ivo Karlovic and Steve Johnson
Karlovic is always dangerous with his serve, and he’s found form at the right time. If the veteran gets a fast court to play on, he could go as far as the semifinals. Johnson had a great run in the Olympics, and I have him breaking through to a Masters quarterfinal opposite Wawrinka.
Quarters Goffin d. Karlovic
Monfils d. Raonic
Kyrgios d. Berdych
Wawrinka d. Johnson
Goffin and Karlovic have never played, however Goffin has had a solid season and his consistency in the Masters tournaments should be rewarded with another semifinal. Monfils beat Raonic in Toronto, Kyrgios is in better form than Berdych, and Wawrinka should be the strongest player in his half. After losing to Berdych at the AO early this year, Kyrgios has dominated him twice on hard courts.
Semis Monfils d. Goffin
Wawrinka d. Kyrgios
Monfils is a clear favorite vs. Goffin given the h2h, Wawrinka and Kyrgios have split meetings in their careers, however I give Wawrinka the consistency edge.
These veterans haven’t met since 2011, and much has changed since then. Monfils is playing some of the best tennis of his career, and despite having never won a title of this stature, he’s playing like he can win one in recent weeks.
2015 ATP Draw Challenge Week 31 (Cincinnati) Staff, Tennis Atlantic
It’s time for another Masters 1000, the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
2015 Western and Southern Open Predictions
Steen Kirby’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Muller, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Karlovic vs. Thiem, Coric vs. Wawrinka, Dolgopolov vs. Tomic, Donaldson vs. Monfils, Isner vs. Robredo, Bellucci vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Kohlschreiber, Kokkinakis vs. Kyrgios, Dimitrov vs. Kudla, Troicki vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Chardy, Mannarino vs. Raonic, Anderson vs. Sock, Bautista Agut vs. Federer Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Karlovic vs. Coric, Tomic vs. Monfils, Isner vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Kyrgios, Dimitrov vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Raonic, Sock vs. Federer Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Karlovic, Tomic vs. Isner, Cilic vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Federer
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Isner, Murray vs. Federer Final: Isner vs. Federer Champion: Federer
Niall Clarke’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Muller, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Simon vs. Thiem, Coric vs. Wawrinka, Dolgopolov vs. Tomic, Mahut vs. Monfils, Isner vs. Robredo, Bellucci vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Kohlschreiber, Fognini vs. Gasquet, Dimitrov vs. Kudla, Troicki vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Chardy, Seppi vs. Raonic, Anderson vs. Sock, Bautista Agut vs. Federer Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Simon vs. Coric, Dolgopolov vs. Monfils, Isner vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Gasquet, Dimitrov vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Raonic, Sock vs. Federer Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Simon, Monfils vs. Berdych, Gasquet vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Federer
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Murray vs. Federer Final: Djokovic vs. Federer Champion: Djokovic
Joe Craven’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Muller, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Simon vs. Thiem, Coric vs. Wawrinka, Dolgopolov vs. Tomic, Mahut vs. Monfils, Isner vs. Robredo, Bellucci vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Sousa, Fognini vs. Kyrgios, Dimitrov vs. Kudla, Troicki vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Chardy, Mannarino vs. Raonic, Anderson vs. Sock, Bautista Agut vs. Federer Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Simon vs. Wawrinka, Dolgopolov vs. Monfils, Isner vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Kyrgios, Dimitrov vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Raonic, Sock vs. Federer Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Wawrinka, Monfils vs. Berdych, Kyrgios vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Federer
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Murray vs. Federer Final: Djokovic vs. Murray Champion: Djokovic
Chris de Waard’s picks
Round 2 matches: Djokovic vs. Muller, Tsonga vs. Goffin, Simon vs. Thiem, Coric vs. Wawrinka, Dolgopolov vs. Tomic, Mahut vs. Monfils, Querrey vs. Robredo, Bellucci vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Sousa, Kokkinakis vs. Gasquet, Dimitrov vs. Kudla, Troicki vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Chardy, Mannarino vs. Raonic, Anderson vs. Sock, Bautista Agut vs. Federer Round 3 matches: Djokovic vs. Tsonga, Thiem vs. Wawrinka, Dolgopolov vs. Monfils, Robredo vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Gasquet, Dimitrov vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Raonic, Sock vs. Federer Quarterfinals: Djokovic vs. Thiem, Monfils vs. Berdych, Cilic vs. Murray, Nadal vs. Federer
Semifinals: Djokovic vs. Berdych, Murray vs. Nadal Final: Djokovic vs. Murray Champion: Djokovic
Opinions are mixed when it comes to Cincy, with some seeing Novak Djokovic taking his first title, and others expecting Murray, Federer, and Isner the US #1 to do well.