I’m delighted to say that Moo’s Tennis Blog will be featuring some photos from Omar Boraby, who is in Cincinnati this week. It will be a nice change-up from all the grass court photos! Like Montreal, Cincy boasts a great draw although there are some sections that could break up with players going deep in Canada and / or having some niggly injuries. The top eight seeds all have byes and will begin their tournament in the second round. As always, your comments and thoughts are much appreciated so if you have an opinion, i’d love to hear it 🙂
Note: This post has now been edited to take account of the qualifiers.
First Quarter: S.Williams (1) v J.Jankovic (8)
For now at least, Serena Williams is in the Cincy draw. After winning Stanford and reaching the semi-finals of Montreal, I thought there was a good chance that she could withdraw from the tournament. However @SI_Tennis on Twitter reported that she practised in Cincy on Sunday afternoon. Serena’s first match of the week could be a repeat of Montreal against Sam Stosur… Sam must be thrilled. Flavia Pennetta is the other seed in this eighth of the draw. The Italian has lost more matches than she has won since being crowned champion at Indian Wells. Her first match of the week will be against Chanelle Scheepers.
Jelena Jankovic won her first match in Montreal, an absolute marathon match against Sloane Stephens lasting three hours and 15 minutes, but lost the second, another epic encounter, to Coco Vandeweghe. Jankovic will play Garbine Muguruza or Annika Beck in her first match in Cincy. It’s a tricky possible match against Garbine, but if she comes through, I could see JJ going all the way to the semi-finals. Jankovic is projected to meet Victoria Azarenka in the third round. Vika endured a dramatic tournament in Montreal, injuring her knee in a victory over Alize Cornet and then losing in the quarters, handily, to Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-2 6-2. She was certainly bothered by the knee in her quarter-final loss and it is hard to believe that she will be fit enough to compete in Cincy where she is the defending champion. I have seen pictures of her practising in Cincy, which is CRAZY.
Azarenkas’s opening match is against Barbora Zahlavova Strycova. The winner of that match will play the winner of a great first rounder featuring Andrea Petkovic and Sloane Stephens. Petko was forced to pull out of Montreal due to a viral illness. She implied in a tweet on Thursday, whilst watching a magnificent match between Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams, that she was still throwing up. However there have been pictures of her practising in Cincy so she looks to be feeling much better! However i’d still give the edge to Sloane, who has won their last two matches in three sets.
1st Round Predictions: Lepchenko d. Stosur in 3 sets, Koukalova d. Townsend in 3 sets, Pennetta d. Scheepers in 2 tight sets, Zahlavova Stycova d. Azarenka in 2 sets (possible retirement), Stephens d. Petkovic in 2 sets (1 tight, 1 easy) and Muguruza d. Beck in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: S.Williams v Jankovic
Second Quarter: A.Radwanska (4) v A.Kerber (6)
After a very slow start to her summer hard court season, Agnieszka Radwanska rebounded in style with a title in Montreal. Her first match in Cincy will be against Kurumi Nara or Romina Oprandi. For the second tournament in a row, Radwanska is projected to meet Sara Errani in the third round. This section is very similar to the one in Montreal as Sabine Lisicki is also looming. Lisicki opens against Roberta Vinci with the winner of that match facing Errani or Yanina Wickmayer. Lisicki produced some encouraging displays in Canada and it’s possible if she comes through her first two matches, she could get another shot at Radwanska in the third round.
I was really hoping that both Caroline Wozniacki and Angelique Kerber would get reasonable draws; however the pair are set to meet in what would be a fabulous third round match. Before either player gets to that stage, Wozniacki opens against Magdalena Rybarikova. After producing some confident and positive displays in Montreal, it is hard to imagine Woz falling before the third round. Kerber has a bye in the first round, but will likely face a trickier match against the winner of Daniela Hantuchova and Ekaterina Makarova in the second round. Makarova has been in brilliant form, reaching the semi-finals of both Washington and Montreal. Wozniacki v Kerber would be a treat in the third round if we get it. All their recent matches have been close and their last encounter in Eastbourne, a three setter that Kerber edged 6-3 in the decider, was an excellent match. Both are playing great tennis right now…
1st Round Predictions: Nara d. Oprandi in 2 sets, Lisicki d. Vinci in 3 sets, Wickmayer d. Errani in 2 tight sets, Wozniacki d. Rybarikova in 2 sets, Watson d. Zhang in 2 sets and Makarova d. Hantuchova in 2 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Radwanska v Wozniacki
Third Quarter: E.Bouchard (7) v P.Kvitova (3)
Eugenie Bouchard had a miserable time in Montreal, losing to Shelby Rogers, 6-0 2-6 6-0 in front of a shocked home crowd. After falling in the Wimbledon final to an inspired Petra Kvitova, Genie will need to show some character to get her season back on track. Unfortunately for her, she’s got a tough-as-nails draw. In the second round, she will play either Camila Giorgi or Svetlana Kuznetsova. Both are excellent ball strikers; Giorgi with her ability to hit winners for fun and Kuznetsova with her variety and versatility. I really think Genie is going to struggle to get past whoever wins that match. Bouchard is projected to meet Ana Ivanovic in the third round, who she has beaten twice before. Ivanovic opens against BFF, Sorana Cirstea. She has been struggling with a hip / leg injury so there are some question marks as to whether she has been able to fully recover.
Petra Kvitova started her post-Wimbledon 2014 life with one win and one loss in Montreal. She lost to eventual semi-finalist, Ekaterina Makarova in a high quality three setter. Petra didn’t play her best in the decider, but she was playing a very tough opponent. She’s never going to be the epitome of consistency, but I am hoping that the victory at Wimby will given her renewed confidence going forward. Her first match in Cincy will be up against Lauren Davis or Elina Svitolina. Kvitova is seeded to meet Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round, who beat Maria Sharapova en route to the quarter-finals in Montreal. The conditions in Cincy don’t favour Petra’s game, but she has a good draw and if she can get through her first two matches, I think she can make the last four, navigating her way past what would be a very challenging quarter-final match.
1st Round Predictions: Kuznetsova d. Giorgi in 3 sets, McHale d. Gibbs in 3 sets, Ivanovic d. Cirstea in 2 sets, Suarez Navarro d. Pironkova in 2 sets, Dellacqua d. Parmentier in 2 sets and Svitolina d. Davis in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Ivanovic v Kvitova
Fourth Quarter: M.Sharapova (5) v S.Halep (2)
Simona Halep makes her return to the tour after skipping Canada. It was a decision that made sense after she played the week after Wimbledon. Back on the clay, Halep won the inaugural Bucharest Open in front of an adoring crowd. After a brutal year, Halep heads into the summer hard court swing where she is defending a significant amount of points starting from New Haven next week. She will take on Kirsten Flipkens or Polona Hercog in the second round, which should be a good match to shake off any rust. In the third round, it will get tougher. In one of the highlights of the first round, Montreal finalist, Venus Williams takes on Lucie Safarova. Venus was amazing in Montreal, but it’s hard to imagine she will have anything left in the tank to compete in Cincy.
Halep is projected to meet Maria Sharapova in the quarter-finals. After their fabulous French Open final, it is a match-up that will always be welcomed. Sharapova had a really ropey loss in Montreal, going down to CSN in three sets. I have no doubts she will play much better in Cincy and be a title contender. She will need to play better from the first match; in the second round, Sharapova will play either Alize Cornet or Madison Keys. Cornet and Keys have met each other once on the tour in Fed Cup action. In a crazy match, Keys showed terrific determination to come from a set down to win, 6-7(7) 7-6(4) 6-3. This is arguably, the most exciting of the first rounders. I like them both and whoever comes through should give Maria a reasonably testing start. Another first round match to watch out for features Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Dominika Cibulkova, which has three sets written all over it.
1st Round Predictions: Keys d. Cornet in 3 sets, Bencic d. Knapp in 2 tight sets, Pavlyuchenkova d. Cibulkova in 3 sets, Safarova d. V.Williams in 2 sets (or a pull-out), Diyas d. Begu in 2 sets and Flipkens d. Hercog in 3 sets
Moo’s Quarter-Final Prediction: Sharapova v Halep
Moo’s Final Prediction: Sharapova d. Wozniacki
Sharapova is my tip to win Cincy. She has a tough draw, but I think she will be eager for matches before the US Open and will raise her game. It was a toss up between Wozniacki and Kerber for the finalist from the top half, but I just gave the edge to Caroline. I’d be surprised if Serena goes beyond the quarters after two consecutive weeks on tour playing a combined eight matches. Jelena and Petra are my semi-finalists. Jankovic has a dicey looking draw, but has always done reasonably well in Cincy. The third quarter is a really tricky one to call and i’ve gone with seeding in the end. I could also see Bouchard, Kuznetsova or Ivanovic making the semi-finals in what is a very evenly matched quarter.
Thoughts on the draw? Who is your champion and finalist?