Cincinnati Masters 2012: Men’s and women’s draw preview and analysis
August 12, 2012 · Print This Article
Depleted and still adjusting to the asphalt of North America, the top stars in tennis will shift their attentions Stateside this week to the Cincinnati Masters in Mason, Ohio.
Where the men in Toronto struggled to keep their eyes open after their Olympic journey, the ladies in Montreal were out in full force (minus Serena and Sharapova) to compete.
Marred by the extra time in London, this year’s US Open Series is almost done before it started. We’re already into week six and we still haven’t seen Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal in action.
It remains to be seen what kind of shape the great grand slam duo will be in for the year’s final major? While Federer opted to rest after London, Nadal hasn’t played a competitive match since Wimbledon and he won’t play another until further notice. The Spaniard recently revealed that he won’t be playing in Cincinnati either, and that clearly doesn’t bode well for chances at the Open.
While rumors of personal problems have hovered over his head this summer, Djokovic still managed to look sharp in Canada and reach the final.
While Serena will look to continue her dominance from Wimbledon and the Olympics, the tournament organizers are crossing their fingers that she doesn’t skip town for Kim Kardashian’s latest wedding?
It really does feel like this year’s Open is Serena’s to win or lose (when was the last time it didn’t feel that way?), but that doesn’t mean she’s a shoe-in for the title in Cincinnati.
Radwanska is great on hard-courts, and Stosur (let’s not forget) remains the reigning US Open winner. I still think Radwanska has the game to win a slam at some point, and her finals appearance at Wimbledon (a three set loss to Serena) hopefully gave her more confidence in the bigger stage.
In saying that, though, the favorites will remain the favorites until another dominant player rolls in and takes over their reign. Roger and Serena are those favorites at the moment, and until proven otherwise, they will continue to carry both tours as the highlighted players.
Let’s now take a glance and the men’s and women’s draws in Cincinnati.
With all the success that Federer’s shown this year, he did look his age (now 31) at both the French Open and Olympics. Defeating del Potro in a five-setter in France, Federer was easily dismissed by Djokovic in semis. Then, after dismissing del Potro once again at the Games, Federer had little to offer against Murray in the Gold Medal round.
Presumably fit and ready to go, Federer enters Cincy with the intention of getting “a few matches under his belt”. Starting off against either Neiminen or Bogomolov Jr., Federer could face Kohlschreiber in round three, with the likes of Fish or Monaco waiting in the quarterfinals. Fish had another good run in Canada last week, but I still don’t like the way he pushes his forehand during big points.
Other possible landmines for Federer to get through in this half include Ferrer, Berdcyh, Raonic, Gasquet, Simon and Nishikori. Of all the aforementioned players, you’d like to think that the sturdy game of Ferrer would make it through—only to lose to Federer once again?
If Toronto taught us anything, it was that this summer will be full of many surprises. Don’t be surprised if we see some more this week.
Best first-round matches in this section: Raonic vs. Gasquet; Harrison vs. Tomic.
Picks: Federer, Ferrer
It was inevitable that Djokovic would have a letdown after his worldly effort last year, but do we dare say that he’s kinda slumping at the moment? Yes, he won in Oz and in Miami, and yes he did pretty well in Toronto, too. But you have to think that after double-faulting to end his Novak-slam at the French, his aura and unbreakable focus have subsided to a certain degree.
At any rate, Djokovic is here and will be ready to charm the Mason crown once again. Beginning with either Haase or Seppi, Djokovic will have to get through Dolgopolov, Cilic or Tipsarevic to reach the semis.
Taking that all into account, Djokovic does have a pretty cushy quarter to work with after a rough week in Toronto.
The top quarter of this half, though, is a totally different matter. Featuring the likes of Murray, del Potro, Roddick, Isner, Haas and Nalbandian, the toughest quarter of the draw could feature the eventual winner.
Murray will have confidence coming in despite his injury scare in Toronto, and the defending champ will have plenty of mojo left from his victory at the Olympics.
I also like what I saw from del Potro in London, and believe it or not how he was striking the ball in Canada (before he went out in the second-round). The former Open champ has his confidence back, and that could spell trouble for the rest of the field here and in New York.
On a more desperate note, Donald Young is also in this half, and his mission is to try and avoid his 17th straight loss on Tour. The American faces a qualifier in his first-round, and at this stage you’d have to pick the unknown player as the favorite.
Best first-round in this half: Nalbandian vs. Haas (for the second week in a row).
Picks: Djokovic, Murray
Champion: Murray d. Federer
Carving her way through a banner season, Radwanska has solidified herself as a contender in any event she enters. Proving that power isn’t the only way to win a match, Radwanska’s defense and court-sense are second to none on Tour. With no Sharapova or Azarenka around, Radwanska will have to deal with either Arvidsson or Paszek in round-two, before Schiavone, an inform Li Na, Bartoli, Stosur, Petrova and Errani could become her main obstacles.
Stosur has proven her worth on asphalt throughout the last year, and Bartoli has been great at upsetting the big names in big tournaments.
One would like to think that Radwanska could ride her wave of momentum all the way through to the US Open, and there’s no better place for that to continue than in Cincy.
Picks: Radwanska, Stosur
Regardless of her ranking—whether it be No. 4, 14 or 114—Serena remains the best and most dominant player to grace the court within the last 10 years. Firing through Wimbledon and the Olympics in convincing fashion, Serena will now resume her hard-court prep in the humidity of Ohio.
If she continues to play with the same vigor that she displayed in London, Serena should have no trouble getting past Safarova, Cibulkova or Kerber. Of the three, I’d have to say that Kerber could put up the most resistance against Serena, and only because she doesn’t seem intimidated by any player.
Other names to look for here include a struggling Jankovic, an even more struggling Ivanovic (see double bagel loss in Montreal), and former No. 1 Wozniacki.
I continue to get the vibe that Wozniacki is going through the motions at this point in her career; she’s not getting better, and not really getting worse. She’s tried some new things with her serve, and that forehand seems to be unrepairable in many ways.
However, Wozniacki will seldom defeat herself, and that’s always a good sign in a field which includes many flaky opponents.
She certainly showed us that last week in Montreal.
Picks: Serena, Wozniacki
Champion: Serena d. Radwanska