Tough Road Ahead For Nadal In Cincinnati
Rafael Nadal will have a tough time winning his second Western & Southern Open after being given a very tough draw in Cincinnati.
After withdrawing due to injuries prior to the 2017 tournament Roger Federer, Marin Cilic, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, and Stan Wawrinka all return to a packed ATP field.
Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer headline the field as the top two seeds and were placed on opposites sides of the draw with drastically different potential paths to the final.
Nadal, the 2013 champion in Cincinnati, has  Grigor Dimitrov (the 2017 champion),  Marin Cilic (2016 champion),  Alex Zverev, and five-time finalist  Novak Djokovic in his half of the draw.
Not only is Nadal facing a tough task in Cincinnati, he’s still competing in this week’s Rogers Cup tournament, where he faces unseeded Russian Karen Khachanov in the semifinals.
The Spaniard’s first test could come as early as the third round where he could face either Frances Tiafoe or Denis Shapovolov, both of whom are ATP #NextGen stars.
Should Nadal get past the third round, a likely quarterfinal date with either Novak Djokovic or Grigor Dimitrov is likely, as neither player should be challenged before the third round.
Waiting in the semifinal match should be either Alex Zverev or Marin Cilic, with  John Isner being the only man in their quarter who poses a serious threat.
Federer’s half of the draw is highlighted by Wimbledon finalist  Kevin Anderson,  Juan Martin del Potro,  Dominic Thiem, and both Stan Wawrinka and Andy Murray.
Unlike Nadal, the faster courts in Cincinnati favor Federer’s style of play, netting the Swiss seven Western & Southern Open titles.
The earliest test Federer could come in the third round in the form of either  Lucas Pouille or wildcard Andy Murray, who is playing on his fourth tournament since coming back from a long injury layoff.
Federer’s fourth round opponent could be a slew of players in a wide open section that features  Dominic Thiem and wildcard Stan Wawrinka, who like Murray is coming back from a long injury layoff.
The highest seeds in the other quarter on Federer’s half of the draw are  Juan Martin del Potro and  Kevin Anderson, who lost Saturday after in the Rogers Cup semifinals in Toronto.
All in all, expect a fresh and healthy Roger Federer to lift his record eighth Rookwood Trophy next Sunday.