Who Will “Find it Here” in Ohio? Three @WTA Players Vie For World #1 at @CincyTennis
Steve Fogleman in Mason
Who will find it here in Ohio? Today should give us some clues and the women’s world No. 1 ranking hangs in the balance. Naomi Osaka became world #1 on Monday but she can hardly afford to relax. Yet when you see her off the court, she’s pretty good at projecting a relaxed persona.
#2 Ashleigh Barty has carried the mantle for most of the summer before yielding it to Osaka on Monday and #3 Karolina Pliskova has held the position albeit briefly in 2017. Pliskova’s only 232 points behind Osaka in the rankings and Barty is a mere 161 points behind the Japanese 2-year-old’s 6417.
Osaka owns a 3-0 record against today’s opponent, Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
Barty should be tested today with a healthy Maria Sharapova eager to settle the score after the last time they met in January at the Australian Open when Barty went on to a three set victory.
Pliskova, the 2016 Cincinnati champion, comfortably faces off against Yafan Wang in a first meeting for both.
World #4 Simona Halep, while unable to return to #1 this week, is in an interesting position with finalist points to defend in order to stay in striking range. After that, she’ll have nothing to lose at the US Open as she was ousted in the first round there last year by Kaia Kanepi.
Qualifiers Acquit Themselves Quite Well In @CincyTennis Main Draw Monday
Steve Fogleman in Mason
Some welcome clouds rolled in at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio for the first day full of main draw action after two very sunny days of qualifying.
This morning, I looked at the order of play and it dawned on me that these qualifiers might stand a fighting chance today against main draw entrants given their strong performances over the weekend. Turns out I wasn’t off the mark. The qualifying women went 2-2 today and that Peterson/Konta match doesn’t seem to want to end. On the men’s side, the qualifiers are 1-2 today. As I post this, qualifier Pablo Carreno Busta is up a set on Gilles Simon. But the qualifying story of the day belongs to Miomir Kecmanovic, who continues to be a giant killer over the last month as he ousted the Boy Wonder, Le Garcon Merveille, Felix Auger-Aliassime 6-3, 6-3 in 63 minutes. Shame on you, Miomir.
Qualifier Veronika Kudermetova embarrassed Bernarda Pera 6-2, 6-3, much as she embarrassed Monica Puig in straight sets yesterday. And she’ll face either Bec Peterson in Ronde Deux. Aryna Sabalenka dazzled on Grandstand court in removing Petra Martic from the singles draw with a final of 6-1, 6-4.
And the Pluckster–the plucky Yulia Putintseva is ready to take on Sloane Stephens under the lights after watching Jelena Ostapenko melt down with 15 double faults and Putintseva was all too happy to accept, 6-2, 6-7(3), 6-3.
On the men’s side, it was an early exit for Andy Murray, and Lucas Pouille wasn’t feeling particularly sentimental in the 6-3, 7-6(6) victory. And Yoshi Nishioka, who drew massive crowds at qualifying through the weekend, won a dramatic three set match of almost two and a half hours against the mustachioed Jordan Thompson, who looked a little like Borat out there on Court 11 today. Nishioka takes on Kei Nishikori next, which will be pretty cool.
Novak Djokovic and Janko “Sunglass Hut” Tipsarevic drew Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo and the specialists outgunned the Serbs today, who lost 6-2, 6-3 and never got a chance to break serve of the #2 seeded team here in Cincinnati.
Maria Sharapova takes on Alison Riske tonight in another possible upset alert, while wild card Reilly Opelka faces Borna Coric in the nightcap.
Tomorrow’s highlights include Venus Williams and Novak Djokovic on Stadium in the afternoon followed by a blockbuster night session with Roger Federer, Serena Williams and Petra Kvitova.
N.B. They opened a brewery in Mason over the spring which is only a few minutes from the tournament and has excellent wi-fi. The best tennis tournament in America just got a little better.
Kudla, Jabeur Among Early Qualifiers on @CincyTennis Sunday; Strycova, Puig Out
Steve Fogleman in Mason
It’s easily been some of the loveliest August tennis-watching weather I remember in Cincinnati qualifying, and it’s always reassuring to see jammed stands and practice sessions. Soon the crescendo of the American tour will begin, as the tennis world moves onto New York. That’s a world away from the smell of the chili in Mason and, I’ve said it before, this is America’s U.S. Open. After the Open, the world of tennis shrinks for me. The Challengers, where dozens cheer, kick up in the fall and while there are quality offerings all over the country, there’s something beautiful in the way Cincinnati serves its experience. This moring was no exception.
Denis Kudla had a packed Court 4 of American supporters, and he became the first man to book a trip to the main draw here today with a solid 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over 20-year-old Aussie Alexei Popyrin. Ons Jabeur was the first women’s qualifier of the day, winning 11 straight games en route to a thrashing of crowd favorite Andrea Petkovic, 6-3, 6-0 in 59 minutes.
Was it a late night out? Monica Puig looked exhausted at the conclusion of yesterday’s qualifying win, and she was not ready to bounce on court this morning as Veronika Kudermetova took full advantage with a 6-2, 6-1 exit for the gold medalist.
Speaking of deer-in-the-headlights, top qualifying seed Barbora Strycova, who played both of her matches on Stadium, went out with a whimper in a 6-2, 6-1 routining at the hands of Rebecca Peterson.
We’ll be back later.
Call Her an Olympic Gold Medalist, A Puerto Rican Legend. Just Don’t Call Monica Puig a Girlfriend
Steve Fogleman in Suburban Ohio
Cincinnati–It was a quiet morning in Ohio farm country as I drove down I-71 on a cool Saturday and then…the man came on the radio to talk about the Western & Southern Open matches. After rolling through the local talent in the tournament like Lauren Davis, John McNally and JJ Wolf, the WLW sports reporter said “and Monica Puig, who is the girlfriend of the Cincinnati Reds’ Derrick Dietrich.” I almost spilled my YooHoo. They had just mentioned that Lauren Davis was once the Ohio state high school tennis champion but they couldn’t say anything about Puig’s gold medal at the 2016 Summer Olympics or the fact that she’s the first athlete in recorded history to win a medal under the Puerto Rican flag? WTH.
Puig, with her lesser-known boyfriend in attendance, persevered in the wilting sun in three sets and vanquishing Anastasia Potapova in a comeback win 6-7, 6-1, 6-4. She dropped to the court after the match and didn’t stick around long after winning the match as she clearly wanted to get out of the sun. It was less than her best tennis as she didn’t win 70% of her first serves until the third set. But it was good enough to put her up against American Jennifer Brady in a qualifying final tomorrow.
It’s a common sport to talk WAGs (Wives and Girlfriends) in sports, but Puig’s no WAG. She won freaking Olympic Gold three years ago. In fact, she won that medal and came to Cincinnati to announce that she was withdrawing from the tournament that year straight out of Rio. You don’t remember that, Cincy sports media? WLW, the Voice of Cincinnati, either do your homework (google) or keep your mouth shut.
WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN QUALIFYING FIELDS ANNOUNCED
Qualifying Event Part of First Watch Opening Weekend
CINCINNATI (July 23, 2019) – Players who have won a total of 11 tour titles this season are among the entrants into the qualifying tournament for the 2019 Western & Southern Open. The qualifying event will take place over First Watch Opening Weekend, August 10-11, at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.
A total of 15 players – seven women and eight men – will advance out of the two-round qualifying tournament into the 56-player main draw fields for the Western & Southern Open.
The winners of seven ATP titles – Nicolas Jarry (Bastad), Juan Ignacio Londero (Cordoba), Feliciano Lopez (Queen’s), Reilly Opelka (New York), Tennys Sandgren (Auckland), Lorenzo Sonego (Antalya) and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Montpellier) – will be joined by four WTA champions – Polona Hercog (Lugano), Alison Riske (‘s-Hertogenbosch), Elena Rybakina (Bucharest) and Yafan Wang (Acapulco) – in the qualifying fields.
In addition, players in the qualifying fields have combined to reach another 14 tour-level finals in 2019. The women’s field also features a duo coming off deep runs at Wimbledon in semifinalist Barbora Strycova and quarterfinalist Riske.
“The qualifying tournament often provides some of the most compelling action because there is a lot on the line for these players who are battling to reach the main draw,” said Western & Southern Tournament Director Andre Silva. “We think these two days are a great opportunity for our fans to not only see these matches across eight courts but also provide a chance to get up-close-and-personal to main draw competitors who are practicing across the other nine courts.”
Tickets for First Watch Opening Weekend start at $14. Tickets for these and all other sessions of the tournament are on sale now at wsopen.com.
Below are the initial player entry lists for the qualifying fields for the 2019 tournament:
WESTERN & SOUTHERN OPEN SEEDS ANNOUNCED
Serena, Venus, Sharapova, Djokovic, Murray and Wawrinka Among Players Without First Round Bye
CINCINNATI (August 6, 2018) — The Western & Southern Open has announced the seeds for its 2018 tournament, which will take place August 11-19 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.
The seeds, which are based on today’s rankings from the respective tennis tours, are headlined by the No. 1 ranked players on both the ATP World Tour – Rafael Nadal – and the WTA – Simona Halep. Sixteen players from each 56-player field are seeded, with the top eight seeds receiving first round byes.
Based on their current ranking, a number of veteran players who have frequently enjoyed a bye will not have that benefit this year and will have to play a first round match. For the women’s players, the opening round takes place Monday and Tuesday, while the men’s first round is played over three days, from Sunday until Tuesday.
Those players who will not have a bye include, to name a few, two-time W&S Open champion Serena Williams, 2011 champion Maria Sharapova, 2013 winner Victoria Azarenka, 2016 champion Karolina Pliskova and seven-time Major champion Venus Williams from the WTA.
Five-time W&S Open finalist and reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, two-time Cincinnati winner Andy Murray, three-time Major champion Stan Wawrinka, 2017 W&S Open finalist Nick Kyrgios and the top-ranked American, John Isner, are among the ATP stars who will be in action early in the week.
Below are the 16 seeds for each draw (italics indicates a player with a first-round bye):
Seed/Rank Player (Country)
1/1 Simona Halep (Romania)
2/2 Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)
3/3 Sloane Stephens (USA)
4/4 Angelique Kerber (Germany)
5/5 Elina Svitolina (Ukraine)
6/6 Caroline Garcia (France)
7/7 Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain)
8/8 Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic)
9/9 Karolina Pliskova (Czech Republic)
10/10 Julia Goerges (Germany)
11/11 Jelena Ostapenko (Latvia)
12/12 Daria Kasatkina (Russia)
13/13 Madison Keys (USA)
14/14 Venus Williams (USA)
15/15 Elise Mertens (Belgium)
16/16 Ashleigh Barty (Australia)
ATP World Tour
Seed/Rank Player (Country)
1/1 Rafael Nadal (Spain)
2/2 Roger Federer (Switzerland)
3/3 Alexander Zverev (Germany)
4/4 Juan Martin del Potro (Argentina)
5/5 Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
6/6 Kevin Anderson (South Africa)
7/7 Marin Cilic (Croatia)
8/8 Dominic Thiem (Austria)
9/9 John Isner (USA)
10/10 Novak Djokovic (Serbia)
11/11 David Goffin (Belgium)
12/12 Diego Schwartzman (Argentina)
13/13 Pablo Carreño Busta (Spain)
14/14 Fabio Fognini (Italy)
15/15 Roberto Bautista Agut (Spain)
16/16 Kyle Edmund (Great Britain)
These seeds are subject to change should there be any changes in the entry list this week.
Twelve women and seven men will complete the fields through the two-round qualifying tournament which will take place Aug. 11-12.
Tickets for all sessions, including the early round matches on Monday and Tuesday are on sale now. The available inventory also includes brand new premium seating areas in the just-built South Building. More information on tickets can be found at shop.cincytennis.com.
Summer Recap: Best 2017 Tennis Tournament Improvement Was Rhinegeist Beer Balcony at Cincy Tennis
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Now that the hangover from the most interesting US open in years is over, it’s time to reflect on what we did this summer. While some memories are a little fuzzy, one thing is clear: there’s only one thing I love more than tennis and that’s craft beer. Craft beer’s introduction to the sports market has been slow and steady for the most part. Major League Baseball found success in serving local craft beer to baseball fans who then became fans of the suds. Most of the other major sports have followed suit in offering local creations to their fan base, but tennis has been too slow to the craft beer game. I was happy when Holy City Brewing of Charleston brewed a beer for the Volvo Car Open in Charleston, but I’d never seen a full-blown craft beer zone at a tournament until I stumbled into the Rhinegeist Brew Balcony. Alright, I didn’t stumble in.
Marissa Beck is Director of Strategic Partnerships for Rhinegeist Brewing, which means she ensures that Cincy’s biggest craft brewer gets its products in the hands of sport fans and event attendees. “It’s one of those things,” she said. “We really wanted to give tennis fans a place where they can go and try a lot of our really good local beers.” The Truth IPA is their flagship brand, but they had 6 other choices waiting for you. At a tennis tournament!
To drink a Peach Gose at a Masters 1000 was heaven on earth. Among the other fantastic choices, Bubbles Rosé Ale with peaches and cranberries was perfect for the heat and humidity of Cincinnati and the Randy Radler beer mixed with grapefruit juice did the trick as well.
If you wanted to hit some balls at the tournament, you could’ve tried the tennis-themed ping-pong tables. Ping-pong is huge at the mother ship brewery.
“The tournament is known for its food, so we want to make sure we can live up to our Cincinnati standards,” Beck said. “We’re from Cincinnati. This is where our brewery is. And there are so many people who come from out of town, so let’s give them a taste of real Cincy beer.”
The brewery, located downtown in Over-The-Rhine, is a massive facility with a rooftop deck and an impressive view. I visited the brewery on a Saturday night and I can tell you that the view from the Rhinegeist Brew Balcony was even better. It overlooked Practice Court 6 at the Western & Southern Open, better known as the practice “show court”. Rafael Nadal held hits there as well as Dominic Thiem and Sascha Zverev. While hundreds stood by court side or climbed to the top of the grandstand bleachers to catch a glimpse of the action, Rhinegeist visitors got the best view of all without having to leave their table or their brew.
“We’ve got a lot of people who are stopping in here and then going downtown to check out the brewery,” Beck said. “We’re trying to get our delicious suds out any way we can.” Well played, Rheingeist. Well played.