The US Open Series continues with the second of back to back hard court masters taking place in Cincinnati. The Western and Southern Open was won by Rafael Nadal next year but the Spaniard will be unable to defend this title due to injury. It sees another 1000 points drop off his ranking after missing Canada last week too.
Check out the Full Draw: ATP Cincinnati 2014 Draw
For potentially the best hard court player in the world, Novak Djokovic hasn’t had the best of time in the US Open Series the past 2 years. After going title-less last year, he continued that run with a surprising loss to eventual winner Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Toronto. The top seed may place a Frenchman in round two but Gilles Simon is a much easier task on paper should Simon beat qualifier Bernard Tomic. Simon is 2-0 against the Aussie but they haven’t yet played on outdoor hard. Two American wildcards can play each other in round two should they both come through their openers. Sam Querrey has the easier task against Alejandro Falla as he looks to extend his 4-1 record while Jack Sock faces Tommy Robredo whose grinding style could give Sock problems if he has an off day.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was the surprise winner of the Canadian Open in Toronto which suggests that the Frenchman may finally be back to his best after the injury problems of last year. The win ended the Big Four’s stranglehold on North American masters but the question will be whether Tsonga can maintain that form or if it remains a one off. Tsonga is 3-3 against first round opponent Mikhail Youzhny but has won all hard court meetings. Andreas Seppi or Santiago Giraldo await the winner while David Ferrer rounds off the seeds in the top quarter of the draw. Both of his potential opponents have had unconvincing performances in the brief time at the US Open Series events. Philipp Kohlschreiber lost to Tommy Robredo in straights while Jeremy Chardy needed 3 sets to defeat Federico Delbonis in Canada.
Stan Wawrinka was one of a number of top players to fall in Canada before the quarter finals, the Swiss losing to Kevin Anderson. He could face another big server in Ivo Karlovic if the Croatian can beat German qualifier Benjamin Becker. Wawrinka is 4-1 against the Croatian to date. If Marin Cilic makes the third round, it will be done so by beating two Spaniards to get there. Feliciano Lopez, fresh off an extraordinary win against Milos Raonic where he saved 9 break points in a game before claiming victory, is first up with the probable easier task of Marcel Granollers or Fernando Verdasco afterwards.
Richard Gasquet looks to extend his record over Julien Benneteau to 4-0 in his opener here with a battle of the one handed backhands on the cards if the seeds hold to round three. Guillermo Garcia Lopez or qualifier James Ward look straight forward on paper for Gasquet while Grigor Dimitrov plays either Teymuraz Gabashvili or Jerzy Janowicz. Both Janowicz and Dimitrov had been tipped for big things in recent years but there is no doubt Dimitrov has lived up to his potential far more right now. The Bulgarian made the semis in Canada although the performance was far from convincing for him.
Despite failing to defend his final place in Canada, Milos Raonic has had a good fortnight in North America with the Citi Open title the week previous. Another deep run is possible here with his quarter that contains a number of seeds that are far from reliable. Wildcard Robby Ginepri or Dominic Thiem are first up with a third round against Ernests Gulbis on the cards. Gulbis lost to Julien Benneteau in Toronto and takes on an opponent whom he is 0-2 against in round one here. Ivan Dodig picked up impressive wins against John Isner and Andreas Seppi before departing against David Ferrer despite being a set up. Wildcard Steve Johnson or Benoit Paire will be up for the winner.
Fabio Fognini is 15th seed but his hard court ability has always been questionable. The experience of Lleyton Hewitt – who saw off Jurgen Melzer in one of two Sunday night matches – could be enough to frustrate the Italian assuming he gets past Edouard Roger-Vasselin. Tomas Berdych heads the quarter as fourth seed looking to bounce back after early losses in Washington and Toronto to Pospisil and Lopez respectively. Berdych faces Yen Hsun Lu or Denis Istomin in his first match of the tournament.
It was another disappointing tournament for Andy Murray who was a break up in the third set against eventual champion Jo Wilfried Tsonga before losing the match. Even out of form, the draw looks kind enough for Murray to at least make the quarter finals. Chase Buchanan beat Tim Smyczek to qualify for the event and will play Joao Sousa, a winnable match for the 23 year old American who has very little experience at the top level. Another qualifier Marinko Matosevic stands between a possible Isner-Mahut match. Matosevic plays Nicholas Mahut while John Isner will take on another big server in Kevin Anderson. In losing to Grigor Dimitrov last week, Anderson failed to convert from two match points up on serve with some astonishing misses. Anderson was defeated by Murray at Wimbledon while Isner has won just 1 set in two meetings against Murray on hard court.
Roger Federer was a loser in a third Masters 1000 final this year but it still represented an impressive tournament for the former No.1. The second seed is the record five times titlist at this event and is still a contender, especially with the draw he has. Vasek Pospisil or Radek Stepanek await in round two while Roberto Bautista Agut is seeded to meet him in round three. The Spaniard is 3-1 against opening opponent Martin Klizan but Gael Monfils may have something to say in round two if he can pass through Federico Delbonis as expected.
SF: Novak Djokovic def. Grigor Dimitrov
SF: Roger Federer def. Milos Raonic
F: Novak Djokovic def. Roger Federer