2020 @WorldTeamTennis Final Preview, Prediction
After a noble experiment in a bubble and 62 matches played over the course of three weeks in the Allegheny Mountains, we are left with the #3 seed Chicago Smash and the #4 seed New York Empire to battle it out on a gorgeous sunny day at the Greenbrier Resort in West Virginia. There were probably a few naysayers who thought the WTT season wouldn’t last with so many players at the same site during a Coronavirus resurgence in North America.
Here we are, though: Zero positive COVID-19 test results and one match to go. The first year expansion franchise, the Smash, have surprised a lot of long-time followers of the league, but their success shouldn’t come as huge shock to anyone. With Sloane Stephens, Genie Bouchard, Rajeev Ram, Brandon Nakashima and Evan King, the Smash would have been competitive in 2020. The extra sauce on this squad comes from Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who was named the league’s female player of the campaign. She’s been off the charts in doubles, and doubles are every bit as important as singles in the world of World Team Tennis.
The New York Empire are riding high on emotion after knocking out the top-seeded Philadelphia Freedoms in the semifinals on Saturday. The immovable object may be Mattek-Sands, but the unstoppable force would be Coco Vandeweghe of the New York Empire. Like Mattek-Sands, she’s playing some of her best tennis in a long while and her leadership in doubles has given her confidence in singles as New York’s Kim Clijsters has been sidelined for the last week.
The Smash took out the Empire 21-16 a week ago, when Sloane Stephens was a 5-1 singles winner. When the Smash edged the Empire, 22-21, two weeks ago, it was Kim Clijsters dominating Stephens, 5-2 and Mattek-Sands/Bouchard defeating Clijsters/Lisicki 5-2. With Clijsters participation unlikely today, it’s hard to see a different result than the two previous meetings.
I give Sock a slight edge against Nakashima in men’s singles, and Sloane Stephens with the nod over Vandeweghe in singles. As usual, that means it’s all coming down to the dubs. I give the advantage to Mattek-Sands and Rajeev Ram against Vandeweghe and Sock in the mixed, which should just be enough for the Smash to win it all in the first year of the existence of the franchise.
Prediction: Chicago Smash 22-20
In terms of the restarting of pro sports in the United States, the World Team Tennis bubble has been a resounding success. The Greenbrier Resort was chosen by the Feds to house the legislative branch of government in a post-nuclear apocalypse at one time because of its remote location. Queens, or Disney World, for that matter, are hardly a White Sulphur Springs. With only a few thousand people, a few restaurants outside the resort and neither a strip club nor a nightclub for 60 miles, other pro sporting events should consider such a locale.
—S. Fogleman in Lewisburg, WV
|Defending Champions Keys, Medvedev Lead 2020 Western & Southern Open Singles Fields|
CINCINNATI (JULY 29, 2020) – Ten former champions headline the players on the initial singles entry lists for the 2020 Western & Southern Open that will be held Aug. 20-28 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York.
The initial entries include both defending champions: Daniil Medvedev for the ATP Tour and Madison Keys for the WTA.
Former men’s champions who have entered the ATP Masters 1000 also include the top two players in the ATP Rankings – No. 1 Novak Djokovic (2018 winner) and No. 2 Rafael Nadal (2011) – along with Grigor Dimitrov (2017) and Marin Cilic (2016).
Two-time champion Serena Williams (2014-15) will join Keys, Kiki Bertens (2018), Garbiñe Muguruza (2017) and Karolina Pliskova (2016) as past WTA champions in the Premier 5 field.
The women’s field includes five Major champions in Williams, Muguruza, Sofia Kenin, Petra Kvitova and Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 2019 W&S Open runner-up. Three men’s entrants – Cilic, Djokovic and Nadal – are past Major winners.
The women’s field, which features 39 of the top 53 players in the WTA Rankings, includes seven players aged 21-or-under. Sixteen-year-old Coco Gauff will make her Western & Southern Open debut and will be joined by fellow teens Amanda Anisimova (18) and Iga Swiatek (19) to join a youth movement that also includes 20-year-old Dayana Yastremska. Kenin, a 2019 Western & Southern Open semifinalist who won the 2020 Australian Open, leads a group of 21-year-olds that includes Elena Rybakina and Marketa Vondrousova.
Forty of the top 43 ranked ATP players have entered on the men’s side. One teenager, 19-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime, leads five men aged 21-or-under in the field. Four of the entrants from the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings are under the age of 25: No. 5 Medvedev (24), No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas (21), No. 7 Alexander Zverev (23) and No. 8 Matteo Berrettini (24). The top eight seeds in both draws will receive first round byes. Twelve players will be added to each field through a two-round qualifying event that will be held Aug. 20-21. The deadline for players to enter the qualifying event is Aug. 3. Four men and five women will be awarded wild card entries into the main draw singles fields.
|Main draw play for the Western & Southern Open will begin on Aug. 22. Both singles finals will be held on Friday, Aug. 28, with the WTA final taking place at 2 p.m., and the ATP Tour’s at 4 p.m.|
Further details for the 2020 tournament will be announced in the coming weeks, and all aspects of the event are subject to change.
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.
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:
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.
Del Potro’s Quarter:
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.
Djokovic d. Tiafoe
Zverev d. Cilic
Anderson d. Del Potro
Federer d. Schwartzman
Zverev should perform well this week while Anderson, Federer, and Djokovic have the inside track to reach the semis.
Zverev d. Djokovic
Federer d. Anderson
This is Federer’s tournament to lose but Zverev or Djokovic should challenge him in the end.
Federer d. Zverev
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.