The US Open Series continues with the second of two back-to-back Masters 1000 events with the Cincinnati Masters in Mason, Ohio. The tournament is a joint event with the women playing a Premier 5. Roger Federer makes his return after missing the event in Canada as he looks to defend his title from last year. Federer has won a record five titles at this tournament.
After failing to defend his Canada title, ATP Cincinnati Masters 2013 Draw sees his lead in the ranking fall a little although he still holds a comfortable lead over No.2 Andy Murray. Djokovic was a losing finalist for the fourth time last year, failing to complete the Canada-Cincinnati double at the final hurdle. He will be hoping it is fifth time lucky and will open against either Juan Monaco or Jurgen Melzer. Melzer looked to have turned a corner with his fourth round appearance at Wimbledon but appears to have returned to the slumping form he was in for much of the clay season. Mikhail Youzhny defeated him in straights set last week and he will have a tough time against an opponent with a 5-1 record against him. Djokovic has a 7-0 record over Monaco, including two wins on hard court. Given a special exempt entry due to his outstanding week in Montreal where he made the semi finals, Vasek Pospisil will hope to continue the good form that saw him break into the top 50 this week. He plays Gilles Simon who has lost four straight, including a three set defeat to Nikolay Davydenko where he won just two games in the final two sets. The winner will play a qualifier which could include Edouard Roger Vasselin, Robby Ginepri and Dmitry Tursunov.
The other Canadian in the draw went one better, with Milos Raonic making the final of Montreal as well as moving into the top 10. The possibility of a let down after such a week is strong here but it would be a surprise if Jack Sock were to repeat the trick from their first meeting on the indoor courts of Memphis – where Sock won 7-5 in a deciding set. Sam Querrey will hope to pile on the pain for Janko Tipsarevic who continues to struggle, losing in straights to Denis Istomin last week. Querrey leads the head to head 3-2 and has won three of their four meetings on hard courts in the US. Richard Gasquet once more draws the short straw with his quarter, with Novak Djokovic awaiting should he make the quarter finals. Djokovic thrashed Gasquet in Canada and a repeat performance this week would not be surprising. Gasquet opens against either Florian Mayer or John Isner. The German leads the head to head 1-0.
Both the top seeds in the second quarter – David Ferrer; and Juan Martin Del Potro – suffered early exits in Canada so should be fresh for this event. Ferrer was surprisingly dumped out in straights by Alex Bogomolov. He opens against either Ryan Harrison or Alexandr Dolgopolov. Dolgopolov pushed Ferrer to five sets at Wimbledon but ran out of steam late on during the third round encounter as the Spaniard extended his record to 6-1 over the Ukranian. Martin Klizan will play a qualifier with the winner facing Jerzy Janowicz or wildcard James Blake. Janowicz gave Nadal a tough match in Canada and will feel he should have taken at least a set.
Meanwhile, Del Potro lost to Milos Raonic in straight sets despite holding a break lead in the second set. He will begin against the winner of two inconsistent but talented players – Benoit Paire and Nikolay Davydenko. Paire dropped just four games in their only meeting this year however this match may be in doubt due to Davydenko’s early retirement in the quarter finals last week. Jeremy Chardy will play a qualifier while Kei Nishikori faces Feliciano Lopez. The head to head is even at 1 although Nishikori was victorious last time out, defeating the Spaniard in the final of Memphis in straight sets.
The third quarter projects Roger Federer to play Rafael Nadal in the quarter finals although Federer’s form has to be of concern given he has 1000 points to defend this week. There are much easier openers than Mardy Fish and Philipp Kohlschreiber although the former is still finding it tough after his return. Federer has an 8-1 record over Fish including last year at this tournament on his way to the title. Marcel Granollers takes on Lukas Rosol, who has a six match losing streak now although the third set tiebreak he lost in last week was progress given his thrashings over the last few weeks. The head to head is 1-1 but Rosol has the victory in the sole hard court meeting. Whoever wins will have a tough time in the next round with Kevin Anderson or Tommy Haas awaiting in round two. It looks to be one of the matches of the first round, although retiring 0-5 down in Montreal gives cause for concern for the German.
Nadal didn’t look like someone who has just played one hard court tournament this year as he remains unbeaten on the surface thanks to his semi final victory over Novak Djokovic. The added aggression in his game helped him to a three set victory and he definitely looks like a strong contender for the US Open on his form in Canada. The early section of the draw look very generous to him. He begins with a qualifier and then most likely Nicolas Almagro who he holds a 10-0 record over. However, Grigor Dimitrov will hope to do better than his last meeting against a Spaniard after losing in straights to Marcel Granollers in Montreal. Also of note is the return of Brian Baker, who plays his first tour match since the Australian Open.
Andy Murray rounds off the draw in the final quarter and is another who will be fresh after losing early to Ernests Gulbis in Canada. A rematch is very possible in the second round with Gulbis facing Mikhail Youzhny for the chance to meet Murray. Both players were defeated by Milos Raonic last week although it was Gulbis who pushed the Canadian further, losing 6-4 in the third. The Latvian leads the head to head 3-2, although it was Youzhny who won their most recent meeting in 2012. Fabio Fognini was defeated by Gulbis in three sets last week and opens against Radek Stepanek this week. If he is victorious, he could possibly play Marcos Baghdatis for the second week running. Fognini defeated the Cypriot in a bizarre 1-6 6-1 6-1 scoreline last week although Julien Benneteau will be far from easy for Baghdatis.
The final section of the draw sees Tomas Berdych in the sixth seed spot. His record against Murray is impressive at 5-4, although Murray has generally had the edge in hard court encounters. Berdych starts his week against either Jarkko Nieminen or a qualifier with the Finn having just won 1 match in 8 against Berdych. He has lost his last four including a third set retirement against the highly rated Canadian Filip Peliwo in Montreal. Stanislas Wawrinka was surprisingly defeated in straights by Benoit Paire in Montreal but should bounce back against Andreas Seppi. He holds a 7-5 record against the Italian, including 2-0 on hard courts. Thomaz Bellucci will hope to avoid making it six defeats in a row when he faces Tommy Robredo in round one although the Spaniard is coming off a good run in Umag where he picked up the title.