Welcome to Tennis Elbow, the column that looks back on the week that was in the world of tennis. This week, Charles Blouin-Gascon previews the 2019 Western & Southern Open.
Hello, old friend.
Do you miss the dark days of the Western winter, all the way back to just after the Australian Open and when the tennis world would have a handful of big and important events here and there but also mostly a bunch of free time?
Well, here we are about six or seven months later; we haven’t stopped much more than a week at a time since the month of May, moving full throttle at breakneck speed from one event to the next. The tennis season is a marathon run at a dashing speed, and at no time is this more obvious than right now.
The event this week is Cincinnati while we move to Winston-Salem and New York next week for the Winston-Salem Open on the men’s side and the NYJTL Bronx Open for the women, inching ever so closer to the end of the big rainbow in the sky. The big pot of gold is well within sight: the biggest party in the tennis world in the Big Apple.
Until then, welcome to Cincinnati for the 2019 Western & Southern Open. As we did a week ago, we’ll run through our predictions for both main draws and be undeniably wrong about most of them. It’s awesome :/ 🙁
A year later and seemingly not a whole lot has changed in women’s tennis with the sport at the very top seemingly always in flux. Though she herself is still very much at the center of things in women’s tennis, we’ve been waiting on Serena Williams’s successor for a while now and then apparently found her over the latter half of the 2018 season in the young Naomi Osaka.
Since winning her second straight Grand Slam in Australian this January, it hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing for the Japanese, and she even said as much on Instagram. But here we are in August and, though she is the second seed at this Western & Southern Open, she’s back atop the WTA rankings. By which we mean: maybe the next in line to the Serena throne is still very much with us and reports of her demise have been greatly exaggerated.
Back at World No. 1, Osaka will presumably be motivated for that reason and we foresee great things for her in Cincinnati.
Quarterfinals: Petra Kvitova over Angelique Kerber; Karolina Pliskova over Caroline Wozniacki; Madison Keys over Kiki Bertens; Naomi Osaka over Elina Svitolina
Semifinals: Karolina Pliskova over Petra Kvitova; Naomi Osaka over Madison Keys
Final: Naomi Osaka over Karolina Pliskova
Why welcome back, Andy Murray. How we have missed you!!! We remember back at the very beginning of this season when you announced that you weren’t sure how long you could keep playing and you’d hope to make it to Wimbledon at least, and everyone wrote your career obituary. Meanwhile, we waited before writing anything back then and here we are eight months afterward—and here you are, especially, still standing if only barely.
But yeah no, there will be no storybook ending here, because if would be so antithetical to everything the man had to endure and battle through just to taste success over his playing career. A storybook ending for Murray is more, like, a three-set loss against Rafael Nadal than it is one where he triumphs over all his foes.
That said, if our predictions do hold up, we see tennis fans from Cincinnati getting their Cinderella ending in the final between two legends. Everyone gets to go home happy. Except maybe Murray.
Quarterfinals: Novak Djokovic over Nick Kyrgios; Roger Federer over Stefanos Tsitsipas; Marin Cilic over Alexander Zverev; Kei Nishikori over Taylor Fritz
Semifinals: Roger Federer over Novak Djokovic; Marin Cilic over Kei Nishikori
Final: Roger Federer over Marin Cilic
Follow Charles Blouin-Gascon on Twitter @RealCBG