DRAW PREVIEW: CHAMPIONS EVERYWHERE YOU TURN
There are a total of 10 former champions and 19 Grand Slam major winners in the men’s and women’s fields. That means tough matches start from day one! Nothing highlights that more than two battle-of-the-Grand-Slam-champions first-round matches: 23-time Major champion Serena Williams taking on 2021 U.S. Open winner Emma Raducanu, and three-time Major champ Andy Murray taking on another three-time Major winner Stan Wawrinka. Are you ready to rumble?
If the 40-year-old Williams is victorious in the opening round against the 19-year-old Radacanu, she could potentially face two-time Western & Southern Open champion Victoria Azarenka in the second round. Karolina Pliskova, the 2016 champion, faces wild card Venus Williams. The Williams sisters, who have never faced each other in Cincinnati, could potentially meet in the quarterfinals.
Top seed Iga Swiatek has a haunting and daunting road. After a first-round bye, she will face either wild card Sloane Stephens or Alize Cornet, who ended Swiatek’s 37-match win streak at Wimbledon. If she gets by that hurdle, she could face Beatriz Haddad Maia who defeated her this week in Toronto, in a quarter of the draw that also includes 18-year-old Coco Gauff and former Western & Southern Open champion Garbine Muguruza.
Cincinnati’s Caty McNally faces Aliaksandra Sasnovich in her first match and would face third seed, Wimbledon finalist Ons Jabeur in the second round.
Let’s talk about that Murray-Wawrinka match. They’ve played 21 times before, with former world No. 1 Murray leading 12-9 in their head-to-head matchup. Wawrinka won their last battle, but it was two years ago on clay at the French Open. Murray won the Western & Southern Open in 2008 and 2011 so he is comfortable on these courts.
In the top half of the men’s draw Nick Kyrgios will face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round and could potentially face 11th seed Taylor Fritz in the second round. Both are in top seed Danill Medvedev’s quarter of the draw, a section that also includes an opening round battle between 2017 Western & Southern Open champion Grigor Dimitrov against Denis Shapovalov. Also in the top half, American Frances Tiafoe faces 12th seed Matteo Berrettini in the first round.