Novak Djokovic became the first player in the ATP era to claim all four Grand Slams, and all nine Masters level titles in his career after claiming victory in the Western and Southern Open ATP Cincinnati final defeating Roger Federer 6-4 6-4 in a gripping final where most of the pressure was on Djokovic’s shoulders. Djokovic had never defeated Federer in Cincy previous, and of course he’d never won the title. Still building his comeback post elbow surgery as he aims to return to an elite level, facing off with the still elite Federer looked to be a tough matchup. Djokovic cracked the code though as he was much stronger on serve than Fed. The Swiss tried to play aggressive both from the baseline, and at the net, but he generated too many errors, outpacing his winners. Djokovic was confident and calm and despite going a break down in set 2, he recovered nicely to ease to a straight set win that should set him up as the co-US Open favorite.
Djokovic had to battle this week in Cincy, and not just in the final. Steve Johnson pushed him in the first round, then he dropped sets against Adrian Mannarino, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, and Marin Cilic, but battled back each time to reach the final in what were relatively high quality contests.
Federer dropped just a set before the final, as he was tested by an improving Stan Wawrinka, his other wins came against Peter Gojowczyk, Leonardo Mayer, and David Goffin, Goffin had to retire in the semifinal match.
The doubles final was won by Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares as they defeated Cabal/Farah.
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.
Marin Cilic captured his first ever ATP Masters 1000 title in a finals battle with another former US Open champion, the in-form Andy Murray. who saw his long winning streak snapped by Cilic. In just over an hour and a half, Cilic pulled an upset 6-4 7-5, as the favored Murray was surprisingly sluggish on the day. He was broken twice in the first set, and once in the second, while Cilic was broken just once in the first set, and dominated points on his serve.
Cilic didn’t finish his semifinal match until after 1 A.M. Sunday morning, and just 12 hours later he was back on court to face Murray. Despite that, he showed no signs of fatigue, while Murray, who has played a busy schedule in recent weeks, looked out of gas.
In Cincy Cilic got past Viktor Troicki, Fernando Verdasco, Tomas Berdych, Borna Coric, and surprise semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who posted a much needed tournament result, but struggled late against Cilic when it counted. Murray defeated Juan Monaco, Kevin Anderson, Bernard Tomic, and Milos Raonic without dropping a set, as all of his opponents appeared to be somewhat intimidated against him.
Heading into the US Open, both Murray and Cilic will have a chance to make deep runs, and this is the best result for Cilic in his career, besides that US Open triumph.
In doubles, Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo defeated Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau in a tightly contested final that ended in a third set tiebreak.
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.
Roger Federer gave himself momentum heading into the US Open with a masterclass 7-6(1) 6-3 victory over world #1 Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati on Sunday. The victory gives Federer seven career titles in Cincinnati, as he repeats as champion, and once more denies Djokovic the lone Masters 1000 title that he lacks.
Federer was aggressive against Novak on the day, and finished the match in just an hour and a half of afternoon play in the warm sunshine. Djokoic, though he reached the final, was clearly less than 100% and his failure to generate a single break point against the Federer serve demonstrated that fact. Normally one of the best returners in the mens’ game, Djokovic was on the defensive from the start, and though he saved seven of eight break point chances in the match, after the first set tiebreak he had a limited chance of engineering a comeback. His poor tiebreak proving to be the defining moment of the match.
Federer choosing to skip Montreal and play just Cincy as a warm up for the US Open seemed to pay off as the fresh veteran #2 seed didn’t drop a set all week in Ohio. He started his title campaign with routine wins over Roberto Bautista Agut and Kevin Anderson, and then rolled past Feliciano Lopez and Montreal champ Andy Murray to reach the final. Lopez had upset Rafael Nadal in the previous round, his best win of the season, and Murray was in good form, but fatigued by the time the semifinal took place.
Djokovic still demonstrated why he’s the world #1 this week, without being entirely healthy and fit, he got past Benoit Paire in straights, David Goffin in three sets, Stan Wawrinka in straights, losing just five games total to his rival, and surprise semifinalist Alexandr Dolgopolov, who posted his best result of the season with a win over Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals, but came up just short of upsetting Novak once again this year, losing in three sets, after being up a set and in a second set tiebreak. Both Goffin and Dolgopolov saw their level drop, the closer they got to a potential victory against Djokovic.
Presuming he can gets some rest and recover his health and conditioning, Novak will remain the favorite to take the US Open title, while Federer ensured he’s going to be part of the title conversation with Andy Murray, all of whom had good summers on the US Open Series. Murray also won the 2015 Emirates Airlines US Open Series bonus challenge over Djokovic.
In doubles Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin did one better than their final in Montreal and took the title over fellow veterans Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic.
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.
Proceedings of the 2015 Cincinnati Masters tournament sparked international headlines, but for the wrong reasons.
A heated first round match between Thanasi Kokkinakis and Ryan Harrison overshadowed the entire competition. Leading into the match Kokkinakis was caught up in a media frenzy following Nick Kyrgios unorthodox on court comments In which he said that his teammate ‘banged’ Wawrinka’s girlfriend Donna Vekic. The controversial comment resulted in Kyrgios receiving a $10,000 fine. During his first round match, The Australian accused Harrison of sledging him about the incident and at two separate points the umpire had to step in to stop the match turning into a physical encounter. Harrison was quoted after the match saying “He’s 19. If he wants to get into it, I will bury him. Wawrinka should’ve decked Kyrgios, and I should deck that kid.” (per Ben Rothenberg)
Eventually Kokkinakis won the roller-coaster match 7-5,3-6,7-6(2) to set up a showdown against Marsel İlhan. In the final round the 19-year-old was on his way out of the match as his Tunisian rival won five straight games to open up a 3-0 lead in the final set. He was, however unable to maintain his dominance as Kokkinakis battled back to win 6-4, 2-6,6-4. Following his win, the rising star admitted that the recent incidents has been affecting him.
“Yeah, I didn’t get much sleep last night either. But, luckily enough, I recovered and I’m playing a tournament at the moment, so I’m trying to focus on that and I’m happy I found a way to get the win.” He said.
Top seed Benoit Paire crashed out of the qualification tournament following a shock loss to America’s 13th seed Denis Kudla. The Frenchman recently won his maiden ATP title in Sweden and has beaten Kudla earlier this year at the Monte Carlo Masters. Despite the odds being in Paire’s favour, it was the 22-year-old American that took control of the match as he broke his rivals serve four times to win 6-4,6-4. Out of seven entrants, Kudla in the only American player to successfully qualify for the main draw. Following his exit, Paire expressed his disappointment on his Instagram account. “Bad game today, but I tried until the end…. Training is needed as I prepare for the US Open”.
Alexandr Dolgopolov recovered from his first round exit at last weeks Rogers Cup by beating Santiago Giraldo in the final round. Dolgopolov, who is seeded lower than his Colombian rival, required almost two hours on court during his 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 win. The loss is a bitter disappointment for Giraldo, who recently announced that former world No.2 Alex Corretja has been hired as a consultant to him. The Ukrainian’s best performance so far in 2015 was a the semi-final appearance at the Nottingham Open in June. Dolgopolov has played in the main draw of the Cincinatti Masters on four previous occasions, losing in the first round at all of them.
Alexander Zverev continued his promising start to the US hard-court series with a three set win over big serving Denis Istomin. The German recently stunned world No.16 Kevin Anderson in the second round of the Citi Open where he reached the quarter-final. The impressive run elevated Zverev ten places up the rankings to 86th in the world, 12 places below his career high. During the qualifying tournament in Cincinatti, Zverev upset 7th seed Benjamin Becker in the first round before beating Istomin 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.
Yen-Hsun Lu recovered from a set down to beat former world No.8 Mikhail Youzhny 2-6, 6-2,6-4. Before his final showdown against the Russian, Lu defeated American rising star Stefan Kozlov. During his match against Youzhny, both players encountered problems with their service. In the final set the 32-year-old was broken three times compared to Youzhny who was broken four times. Lu is currently ranked 82nd in the world and has reached the quarterfinals at three ATP events in 2015 (Nottingham, Delray Beach and Chennai).
Wimbledon quarterfinalist, Vasek Popisil, produced a dominating performance after dropping the first set against South Korea’s Hyeon Chung. After dropping the first set in a close tie-break, the Canadian won 12 out of the next 15 games to progress into the main draw with the final score 6-7(4), 6-3, 6-0. Since his magical run at SW19, the Canadian has suffered minor trouble with a bruised wrist, but he has made steady progress on his return to action by reaching the quarter-finals in Atlanta and third round in Washington.
Completing the qualifying line-up is veteran player Nicolas Mahut who defeated American second seed Steve Johnson 6-2,6-4. Leading up to this week the 33-year-old has played in 45 main draw matches at Masters tournaments and currently has a disappointing win-loss of 14-31. The Frenchman has already won two titles this year. He was triumphant at the ATP Saint Brieuc Challenger and in ‘s-Hertogenbosch where he won the title as a qualifier. This is the second time in his career that he has won a ATP title as a qualifier.
Benoit Paire received a lucky loser spot into the main draw after Kei Nishikori pulled out due to a hip injury.
(LL) Benoit Paire v Gilles Muller – They have only place each other once before which in the second round of the Metz Open back in 2011. Muller won that match in straight sets. Paire is streaky in his form and Muller being good on hard courts likely gives him an edge.
(Q) Lu Yen-Hsun v David Goffin – The only previous match played was in Washington back in 2013 where Goffin won 6-4,6-4. This will be a match worth watching if you like clean ball striking.
(Q) Alexander Zverev v Borna Coric – Known as the battle of the teenagers, it will be a rematch of the 2013 US Open boy’s semi-final. Coric beat the German in three sets on his way to claiming the title. In the final he beat Thanasi Kokkinakis. This one could go either way, with both in solid form and possessing plenty of talent.
(Q) Nicolas Mahut v (WC) Jared Donaldson – first meeting, a nice chance for the young gun Donaldson to grab another main draw tour win here, Mahut is one of the weakest qualifiers.
(Q) Thanasi Kokkinakis v Fabio Fognini –first meeting, Fognini has yet to win a hard court match in 2015, Kokkinakis is likely stressed but I still him winning this one.
(Q) Vasek Pospisil v (Q) Denis Kudla – Pospisil has beaten Kudla twice. In 2011 Kudla retired in the second set at the Tiburon Challenger and in 2013 the Canadian won in three sets at Newport. This should be a big hitters battle, Kudla’s career best form in recent weeks should give him an edge.
2015 ATP Cincinnati Preview and Predictions Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
The final Masters stop on the Emirates Airlines US Open Series is in Cincinnati as most of the top players in the men’s game will attempt to “do the double” and play back to back in Montreal and Cincy. The joint event is one of the best tournaments in the USA and this years Western and Southern Open also promises to be special.
2015 ATP Cincy Preview
Western and Southern Open
ATP World Tour Masters 1000
Cincinnati, OH, USA
August 16-August 23, 2015
Prize Money: $3,826,655
Top 8 seeds (who all receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: Novak Djokovic (1)
2: Roger Federer (2)
3: Andy Murray (3)
4: Kei Nishikori (4)*
5: Stan Wawrinka (5)
6: Tomas Berdych (6)
7: Marin Cilic (8)
8: Rafael Nadal (9)
Of top names, only David Ferrer is absent due to an elbow injury. Kei Nishikori was injured in Montreal and also pulled out, replaced by Alexandr Dolgopolov.
First round matchups to watch:
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs. Fernando Verdasco
Tsonga has a 3-1 h2h advantage in this matchup of power baseliners. Verdasco is currently on a four match losing streak, but the big hitting Spaniard played a solid match against Nick Kyrgio and may be turning a corner. Jo won three matches at the Rogers Cup and reached the quarterfinals, with that in mind, his form should carry him to a win here, but this match should feature some great ball striking on both sides of the net.
(10)Gilles Simon vs. Ivo Karlovic
A close h2h (3-2 in favor of Simon) should make this match more interesting than it looks on paper. Simon is higher ranked, but Karlovic has had a solid summer overall and scored a pair of quality wins in Montreal. The Frenchman by contrast suffered an early round 2 exit, and his bland counterpunching game, may not be well suited for the wam-bam thank you ma’am tennis of Karlovic. The styles of play are totally opposite, and if the surface plays fast enough here, I see the veteran Karlovic scoring an upset.
(14)Gael Monfils vs. Jerzy Janowicz
JJ beat Monfils this year at the Australian Open (1-1 h2h), and with that in mind this matchup could also result in an upset, though I’d still say Monfils is the favorite. Janowicz is just 6-6 on hard courts this year, while Monfils exited round 2 in Montreal, and both guys are looking to find some form headed into the US Open. Janowicz is a power hitter, and Monfils is a great mover and defensive player, I favor his skills to find him a win, but it could go to three sets.
(12)Richard Gasquet vs. Nick Kyrgios
Gasquet and Kyrgios will meet for the 5th time in just two seasons as they have a knack for finding each other in draws. Richard won both their meetings this year and overall leads the h2h 3-1, that said Kyrgios, who drew fire for his insults aimed at Stan Wawrinka in the Rogers Cup, is actually playing good tennis right now on hard courts and continues to be a dangerous non-seeded lurker in ATP draws. Kyrgios has a lot of baggage surrounding him, and people are having to take sides either for or against him, but that shouldn’t distract from his actual abilities as a tennis player as the young Aussie reached the third round in Montreal. He may be distracted, but Gasquet pulled out of the Rogers Cup before his first round match, so his health has to be somewhat in doubt. A healthy Gasquet likely has an edge, but I’m picking Kyrgios because Gasquet is in question.
(9)Milos Raonic vs. Feliciano Lopez
Raonic has a 3-2 edge over Lopez as both players are big servers who are comfortable coming to net to finish points. Milos, who has lost two straight matches and was bounced round 1 at his home tournament in Canada, isn’t in great form at the moment and is playing well below what his ranking would suggest. Lopez likewise has struggled this year and has lost two straight matches, as the veteran has been dogged by inconsistent and sloppy play, especially in clutch moments. I doubt this match will feature either player at their best, Lopez will have an upset chance, but I see Raonic surviving and reaching round 2.
Djokovic, a four time finalist who has never won in Cincy, will try once more as the top seed and world #1 to get a trophy he has long sought. He lost in the Montreal final, and though he had some shaky matches in Montreal, and possible elbow problems, he’s still in good form and the best player in the world. First up for Novak is likely to be Gilles Muller (who faces qualifier Benoit Paire, who is in good form, round 1), Djokovic is 2-0 against Muller this year without dropping a set and thus he should win that over the big server. The Tsonga/Verdasco winner could be a danger in his second match though, presuming they win over David Goffin/qualifier Rendy Lu. The Belgian ballstriker is just above .500 on hard courts this year but won two matches in Montreal. Tsonga leads the h2h over Goffin 3-2 and they split meetings this year, given the surface, Tsonga should earn a win and reach round 3.
Tsonga actually won his last meeting over Novak (Toronto 2014), though Novak overall has a h2h edge. The winner will likely come down to Novak’s physical condition, especially with his elbow, Tsonga will have a chance, though I have Djokovic reaching the quarterfinals.
Stan Wawrinka did not perform well in Montreal and he’s just 10-8 in his career in Cincy, with that in mind, expectations have to be low for a player who retired in the third set of his heated match against Nick Kyrgios. I see Wawrinka being bounced out in round 2 at the hands of Borna Coric, presuming the young gun Croatian beats fellow young gun qualifier Alexander Zverev in round 1. Coric is 9-9 on outdoor hard (lost to Wawrinka early in the year) and upset Andy Murray this year on the surface in Dubai, he comes off a close loss to Tsonga in Montreal, and Wawrinka is vulnerable to his abilities, thus look for Coric to get another top 10 win in his young career. The Simon/Karlovic winner will have the inside track to face Coric/Wawrinka round 3 as neither Dominic Thiem nor Martin Klizan (a loser of three straight), are in good form. Thiem should hopefully be rested and adjusted from clay now, but I see him falling to Karlovic in round 2.
I see Karlovic beating either Coric/Zverev or Wawrinka, as he’s in good form, the surface favors him, and he should be able to eke out a win and reach the quarterfinals, in what would be a nice dark horse run for the well traveled veteran. Karlovic beat Coric on clay this year.
Kei Nishikori pulled out due to injury and was replaced by Alexandr Dolgopolov, who is likely to face Bernard Tomic in his first match. Tomic upset Marin Cilic in Montreal, reaching the third round, and also won a title this Summer in Bogota, his form is well-known to be inconsistent, but I see the junkballing Aussie beating Sergiy Stakhovsky and then beating the streaky Dolgopolov in a shotmakers special. Tomic vs. Monfils/Janowicz is the likely third round match, Monfils should be able to avoid the upset against Jared Donaldson/qualifier Nicolas Mahut as long as he beats Janowicz, though this tournament will be a good opportunity for the teenage American Donaldson to play against the ATP’s best.
Monfils and Tomic have played just one time at the ATP level (Stockholm 2011), and thus it’s hard to predict a winner, that said if Tomic is in form I see him reaching the quarterfinals as another under the radar threat.
Tomas Berdych, who suffered a shock loss to Donald Young in Montreal, will look to recover and build upon his 19-6 hard court record this season. Presuming nothing is physically wrong with Berdych he should have a decided edge over Jiri Vesely/Thomaz Bellucci in his first match. Vesely has a better outdoor hard court record than Bellucci this year, but Bellucci got some match play in in Montreal, thus I have him beating the Czech before falling to Berdych. John Isner is the likely third round opponent for Berdych in a weak section. Isner has been in fantastic form this summer (Atlanta title, Washington final, Montreal quarterfinals), and he’ll face his countryman Sam Querrey in round 1. Isner is just 1-3 against Querrey and lost to him this year in Memphis, but his form is better, and thus I see him getting his second win in the matchup of long time American top 100 players. Isner should also have the edge over Tommy Robredo, presuming Robredo beats Pablo Andujar round 1 in a clash of Spaniards, these days Isner is the better hard court player.
Berdych is 6-2 against Isner in the h2h, but Isner’s two wins have come on North American hard courts, presuming bg John isn’t overly fatigued I see him scoring the upset over what may be a shaky Berdych to reach the quarterfinals. Isner is a former finalist in Cincy and seems to play hard and enjoy this tournament.
The two-time Cincy and current Rogers Cup champion Andy Murray will look to continue his excellent run of form in Southern Ohio. Murray has a chance to secure world #2 with a good result here and his first match against Mardy Fish/Viktor Troicki isn’t likely to trip him up. Fish will be saying goodbye to Cincy, and though he is 0-2 in his singles matches this year, he could get out of round 1 given Troicki has four straight pedestrian losses. Regardless Murray should cruise over either opponent, and an inspired Fish could rise over Troicki. Grigor Dimitrov is the favorite to face Murray round 3, Dimitrov opens with Lukas Rosol, and though the Bulgarian is struggling right now, he should be good enough to win that one. Dimitrov is 2-2 this summer, while Rosol upset Kevin Anderson in Montreal before losing to Ernests Gulbis round 2. Dimitrov/Rosol will face a qualifier round 2, and a qualifier could also reach round 3. The qualifiers are Denis Kudla and Vasek Pospisil, and they will face off round 1 as Denis looks to continue his good form.
Look for Murray to beat Dimitrov as he’s better than the Bulgarian with a similar style of play, his form is also superior, in fact I don’t even expect it to be a close match like their 2015 AO meeting.
Marin Cilic should be on a path to face Murray in the quarters. The Washington semifinalist got some rest after an early Montreal exit and he’s the favorite against Philipp Kohlschreiber/Joao Sousa round 2. Both players are coming off of European clay and neither have good outdoor hard court records this seasn, though Kohli’s form may be slightly better. Cilic should then face Kyrgios/Gasquet round 3. Kyrgios/Gasquet should face a qualifier round 2, as Fabio Fognini still has yet to win hard court match this season and opens with a qualifier.
Given Kyrgios streaky form, I think Cilic will find a way to win and reach the quarterfinals, an injured Gasquet weakens this section.
Six time and defending Cincy champ Roger Federer will open with Roberto Bautista Agut or Pablo Cuevas. The Swiss maestro has played a somewhat limited schedule this year but he’s 16-2 on hard courts and has two titles, well-rested and focused, he should do well here as he competes to try and maintain the #2 ranking. RBA is in poor form but should have enough game to beat the dirtballer Cuevas, from there Federer should roll through to round 3, where he could meet Jack Sock. Sock was a quarterfinalist in Washington and won two matches in Montreal, thus his form is good. In round 1 he will face Bjorn Fratangelo who has two challenger semis and a challenger final on his resume this summer on the USTA Pro Circuit.
Fratangelo is a rising talent, but Sock should be a cut above as he’s an ATP caliber player right now. I look for Sock to get past Leo Mayer/Kevin Anderson as well since Anderson is in poor form (two consecutive early exits this summer) and Sock beat him in Houston this year, also Mayer is not a great hard court player. Federer beat Sock this year in Indian Wells, and he has a better forehand than even Jack does, giving him an edge.
Rafael Nadal, the 2013 champion in Cincy, will open with Rajeev Ram/Jeremy Chardy round 1, as he continues his efforts to build his ranking back up to top 5 status. Chardy caught fire this week in Montreal, scoring a random deep run to the semifinals, while Ram is struggling since his Newport title. Chardy is likely fatigued, thus I don’t see him as a threat to Nadal, but he should get out of round 1. Rafa improved to 10-5 on hard courts this year with a run to the quarters in Montreal where he played poorly in a loss to Nishikori.
Look for Nadal to beat Lopez/Raonic in round 3, likely Raonic. Adrian Mannarino should be Raonic’s round 2 opponent, presuming he beats a struggling Andreas Seppi. Mannarino has had some good play this season, but Raonic’s big serving should prove to be too much. Nadal is 5-1 against Raonic and his only loss was a close three setter in Indian Wells this year. Raonic’s form is worse than it was then, and thus Rafa should move to 6-1 with his strong defensive play.
Dark Horses: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Bernard Tomic, Nick Kyrgios, Jack Sock
If Tsonga can get to the third round, he’ll have a chance to upset Djokovic and go as far as the final, he has the talents, it’s just putting it all together for a week long run. Tomic should take advantage of Nishikori’s injury and reach the quarterfinals, presuming he can find consistency and focus at a big tournament, he could even get as far as the semis.
Kyrgios will have to get past Gasquet and likely Cilic, but if he does he’ll be in the quarterfinals with a punchers chance against Andy Murray. The media will be watching, as will the fans given his recent behavior.
Sock continues to rise and on home soil he may well get another shot at Federer in round 3. I don’t see him winning that, but even putting up a good effort would be a good sign for his upcoming US Open campaign.
Quarterfinals: Djokovic d. Karlovic
Isner d. Tomic
Murray d. Cilic
Federer d. Nadal
Djokovic has always struggled with Karlovic (1-3 h2h including a loss this year), and I could well see Dr. Ivo pulling off another win over the world #1 if the conditions are right and Novak’s elbow gives him problems. That said I don’t have the boldness to pick that result.
Isner has a lone h2h win over Tomic and should continue his good run of form on the US Open Series, Murray has a 10-2 h2h over Cilic and is simply outplaying everyone except Djokovic and possibly Federer on tour right now.
Nadal has a good h2h record and matchup advantage vs Fed but his hard court form still isn’t great at the moment and given this is Cincy I see his run ending at the hands of the Swiss.
Semifinals: Isner d. Djokovic Federer d. Murray
Djokovic is 7-2 (2-0 this year) against Isner, but one of those losses came in Cincy (2013) and something tells me Isner is going to rise up and grab a win this time if they meet, due to his good form and motivation at home, while Novak may well want a break before the Open. This tournament is a great chance for the American #1 to reach another Masters final.
Federer outplayed Murray at Wimbledon with masterful tennis, and Murray may be somewhat worn out at this point, it could be a great match, but like the above matchup, something tells me Federer finds a way to win in Cincy.
Final: Federer d. Isner
Federer is the better player and has dominated the history of this tournament in his career, I see him taking the title as long as he gets past Murray, whether he faces Djokovic, Isner, or some other opponent in the final.
Roger Federer won his first Masters level title since the 2012 edition of the Cincinnati tournament with a 6-3 1-6 6-2 defeat of David Ferrer,who was contesting his seventh Masters level final. His record drops to 1-6 in those finals. The title is the 80th overall.
Federer is creeping back up the rankings and has now solidified his hold on third place with 3 titles and 5 final appearances this season, including Toronto last week. The title is also the sixth in Cincy for the record breaking Swiss maestro.
Federer beat Ferrer for the 16th time in a row with a strong display of serving in the first set, followed by capitalizing on a poor Ferrer service game to break for 5-3 and serve out the first set. Federer went on walk abouts in set 2, narrowly avoiding a bagel, but he recovered his form for the third set, and Ferrer, though he put up a valiant fight was again vanquished, being broken multiple times and going down 6-2.
Federer had wins this week over Vasek Pospisil and Gael Monfils in 3 sets, then a rather routine straight set victory over Andy Murray, who failed to push the match into a deciding third set from 4-1 up in the second, and a straight set drubbing of Milos Raonic, who by virtue of his title in Washington and strong runs in Toronto and Cincy, leads the Emirates Airlines US Open Series points race.
Ferrer’s route to the final involved him saving match points and winning in three sets over Philipp Kohlschreiber, and that was followed by a straight set victory over Mikhail Youzhny and a 3 set win over countryman Tommy Robredo. He followed that up by dispatching a meek Julien Benneteau in straight sets in the semifinals.
2012 ATP Cincinnati Western and Southern Open Preview
Steen Kirby, TennisEastCoast.com
The second straight and final hard court masters event this summer kicks off tomorrow as pro tennis heads to the Midwest. Tennis East Coast looks forward to some live tournament coverage from a guest contributor. Before then, here is a preview of the Cincinnati men’s draw.
World number 1 Roger Federer will be back in action against either Alex Bogomolov or Jarkko Nieminen, a couple of veterans who haven’t been playing great recently, and then likely faces a dangerous Kohlschreiber in the third round. The winner of Harrison/Tomic is also an option. Then, he could face 10 seed and Toronto quarterfinalist Mardy Fish in the quarters.
Fish, who starts off against Feliciano Lopez and then the winner of Carlos Berlocq/Santiago Giraldo, could face a rematch with the man he beat in three sets to make the Toronto quarters, Juan Monaco. Also lurking is Radek Stepanek, who found some mojo and upset Alexandr Dolgopolov and Juan Martin Del Potro in Toronto en route to the third round. He likely faces Monaco in the second round.
4 seed David Ferrer, back in action as well, will face Stanislas Wawrinka or a qualifier in his first match and then could get a rematch with Kei Nishikori (who he lost to in the Olympics). Nishikori will face surprise Toronto quarterfinalist Marcel Granollers in the first round.
5 seed Tomas Berdych is having a miserable time off of clay. He lost his second match in Toronto against Richard Gasquet and before that two straight first round losses in London at the Wimbledon and the Olympics. Berdych will face Lukasz Kubot or a qualifier and then could face current and surprise Toronto finalist Gasquet again. The other terribly slumping top 15 player, Gilles Simon, is also in this part of the draw and will face Marcos Baghdatis.
Novak Djokovic, still in the running to repeat as Rogers Cup champion and currently a semi finalist there, will start off against either Andreas Seppi or Kitzbuhel champ Robin Haase and then could face DC Champ Alexandr Dolgopolov or Nikolay Davydenko in the third round. A qualifier or Florian Mayer are also options in what is a nice draw for the Serbian.
The other current Serbian, Toronto semifinalist, Janko Tipsarevic will face Pablo Andujar or a qualifier in the second round and then could face a rematch with the man he beat in the third round of Toronto, Marin Cilic. Cilic likely faces two qualifiers if he is to reach the third round. We could very well get another Tipsarevic vs. Djokovic semifinal match up in consecutive weeks.
Andy Murray, who is seeking to defend his Cincinnati title and had to withdraw from Toronto after suffering a knee injury during his second round match, faces a brutal draw. Murray will likely face a rejuvenated and dangerous Sam Querrey who acquitted himself well in LA as a champion, DC as a semi-finalist and Toronto, where he knocked off Kei Nishikori to make the third round. If Murray is healthy and can get through that contest, he likely faces the always dangerous Andy Roddick In the third round in what should be an electric match on American soil. Roddick will have to get through a qualifier and Julien Benneteau or Denis Istomin to set it up, though. Murray’s next opponent could be Juan Martin Del Potro or Tommy Haas.
Del Potro is back in action and opens up against either the red hot Haas or David Nalbandian. Haas just beat Nalbandian in the first round of Toronto last week en route to the quarters. This is certainly the most entertaining part of the draw.
Dark Horse: Tommy Haas
Not sure if you can call him a dark horse anymore, given how well he has played at the age of 34, and how he is back in the top 25. His success includes a title in Halle, finals in Hamburg and DC and a quarterfinal in Toronto. Given his draw, the title fits.
Haas is playing well enough to score a win over Del Potro, if Del Po is still adjusting to the hard courts. If he can earn a shot at Murray or Querrey in the quarters, he could make it all the way to the semis. The semis could find him in a rematch with Djokovic, who he played to three sets in Toronto. Anything is possible for Haas these days.
Federer d. Ferrer
Djokovic d. Murray
Djokovic d. Federer
As hard as it can be to parse Fedex, Muzz and Djoker these days, Djokovic has the advantage of adjusting to the hard courts in Toronto and is playing sharp there. He is a three-time Cincinnati finalist. Federer is a four-time champ and Murray, who might be struggling with nagging injuries, is a two-time champ. All three players have played their best in Cincy and it could go a mix of ways depending on what form they are in.