The US hard court swing returns after the Olympics with eight of the top 10 in action in Mason, Ohio at the Western & Southern Open. That includes Andy Murray, now a two time Olympic singles champion and Rafael Nadal but World No.1, Novak Djokovic and the defending champion Roger Federer will not be in action with the latter out for the rest of the season.
See the full draw here: ATP Cincinnati 2016 Draw
There will be questions over Murray’s participation in the tournament after a tough week in Rio, winning a 4 hour final to get the gold medal. If he does compete, he will face another in form opponent barring a shock. Ivo Karlovic win the new Los Cabos tournament in straight sets, defeating Feliciano Lopez in the final. Murray usually handles big servers well and has excelled against Karlovic in particular, winning all 7 of their encounters. Karlovic needs to beat Juan Monaco to earn a match against Murray but he is well placed to do so.
Kei Nishikori is the projected quarter final opponent for Murray and will fancy his chances of facing Murray for the second week running assuming both compete. Nishikori, winner of the Bronze Medal match at the Olympics, could face a tough opener against Taylor Fritz. Both Richard Gasquet and David Goffin will be looking to strike if either of the higher seeds aren’t at full effort although Gasquet is 3-7 against Murray while Goffin is winless in three attempts against Nishikori.
Both Milos Raonic and Dominic Thiem did not compete at the Olympics so should be fresh when it comes to making a deep run in this tournament. Thiem, who announced his intention not to compete at the Olympics a long time before they began, is currently on a three match losing streak and will look to end it against a qualifier. Ninth seed Gael Monfils will be disappointed to have lost from match points up against eventual Bronze medallist Kei Nishikori but looks to bounce back and make a further move up the rankings and into the top 10. He could do so if he makes the latter stages of the tournament but will also have to rely on an early exit for J0-Wilfried Tsonga.
Monfils will take heart from the fact he won at the last Masters 1000 event against Raonic, who is the highest seed in this quarter. The Canadian should be fresh though, especially with his opening round bye. John Isner, a losing finalist in 2013, is one of the tougher early round matches for Raonic if the American can see off Fabio Fognini in round one. They haven’t met this year but as of now Isner is 3-0 against Raonic.
While in the draw, some expect Rafael Nadal‘s participation in this tournament to be limited at best after a gruelling Olympic schedule that saw him win Men’s Doubles and make the semi finals of the Singles event. The Spaniard was victorious at this event in 2013, beating John Isner in the aforementioned final. He faltered in the Bronze Medal match against Kei Nishikori and will be vulnerable if he competes here. 14th seed Nick Kyrgios takes on Lucas Pouille in round one in what could be an interesting clash in this quarter between two of the better young stars on the tour at the moment.
Tomas Berdych is another who will be looking to strike here after taking the week off due to his non competing in the Olympics. The Czech is still to win a Masters 1000 event despite making three finals but a fourth is a strong possibility if he turns up in form. Berdych’s last two losses were to the winners of the event – Djokovic in Toronto and Murray at Wimbledon. Spanish representation in this quarter is plentiful with wildcard Verdasco amongst the competitors but it is Marin Cilic that will be a big threat although he is just 4-6 against Berdych in his career.
The final quarter is headed up by Stanislas Wawrinka. Wawrinka chose not to compete at the Olympics and should be hoping to make the final, especially as No.2 seed meaning that he will not face Murray before the final. The projected third round opponent for Wawrinka is in-form Feliciano Lopez who saw a 7 match winning run end in the Los Cabos final to Ivo Karlovic. David Ferrer will expect to have a good chance of making the quarter final but his Olympics ended in surprising fashion early on with a loss to Evgeny Donskoy from a comfortable lead. Along with Ferrer, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is one of a few non-Big 4 players to win in a Masters event since the start of 2009. Tsonga, who rounds off the seeds in this quarter at No.7, will need to watch out if Ferrer makes the third round as the Spaniard is 3-1 against him although they haven’t met since 2013.