Western & Southern Open 2014 Tournament Preview

The withdrawal of defending champion Rafael Nadal doesn’t mean a lack of star power at this year’s Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, taking place August 9th through August 17th.

Five-time champion (2012, ’10, ’09, ’07, and ’05) Roger Federer returns to claim in sixth Rookwood Trophy. Two-time champion (2011 and 2008) Andy Murray looks to continue his comeback from back surgery last year under the tutelage of his new coach Amelie Mauresmo. And four-time runner Novak Djokovic continues his quest for the elusive Western & Southern Open title, the only Master 1000 event he has not won.

Watch for young players, all of whom have risen up the ranking this year, such as Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, and Kei Nishikori, and Ernests Gulbis to make moves this week in Cincinnati, possibly scoring an upset or two.

Last year’s women’s champion, Victoria Azarenka, has struggled with a left foot injury all year, posting an 8-6 record while falling to No. 11 in the rankings. An exit before the quarterfinals could see her fall further in the rankings and further away from making the WTA Finals in Singapore.

World No. 1 Serena Williams will again attempt to claim her first title in Cincinnati, falling in last year’s final to Azarenka. Serena has struggled a bit with consistency this year, winning the Bank of the West Classic title last week, her first title since May.

This year’s French Open champion, and 2011 Western & Southern Open champion, Maria Sharapova, returns to continue her climb back up the rankings. After her loss in the second round last year, Sharapova took off the rest of 2013 to recoup from injuries, meaning she will have minimal points to defend in Cincinnati and should continue her climb up the rankings.

Young women to watch for include Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard, French Open finalist Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, and American up-and-comers Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys.

Both the men’s and women’s tournaments at the Western & Southern Open will consist of 56-player fields. There are 44 men and 39 women directly accepted into the event with these initial entries. Four men and five women will be awarded wild cards into the tournament. In addition, a two-round qualifying tournament will be held August 9-10 in which an additional seven men and 12 women will earn berths into the Western & Southern Open.

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