Western & Southern Open Women’s Draw Preview
The WTA Women’s main draw kicks off Monday morning, with defending champion Serena Williams headlining the packed field. Williams is continuing her preparation for her run at history in two weeks at the US Open where she will look to complete the calendar slam and tie Steffi Graf for most Grand Slam titles at 22.
Any tournament Serena enters she is the favorite to win, with only herself really being able to beat herself on a consistent basis. With her mind and all preparation on New York and the US Open don’t expect Williams to put a 100% effort into defending her title here.
The bottom half of the first quarter has last year’s finalist and 6 seed Ana Ivanovic and 10 seed Carla Suarez Navarro and Sloane Stephens, who won her first career title this summer in Washington at the Citi Open.
Look for Ivanovic to advance out of this quarter, but don’t be shocked if Serena makes the semis.
The second quarter is loaded, featuring 4 seed Petra Kvitova, 7 seed Lucie Safarova, 11 seed Angelique Kerber, unseeded but 12th ranked Belinda Bencic, Sabine Lisicki, Eugenie Bouchard, and Dominika Cibulkova.
Kvitova announced last week that she has been battling mono, after struggling with fatigue issues for the better part of the last year. Bencic is coming off an impressive run to the Rogers Cup title, defeating four of the top six WTA players, and will most likely come in to Cincinnati with a tank less than half full.
Kerber is the most in form player and has done well in Cincinnati in the past, making the 2012 final. For that reason, look for the German leftie to make the semifinals.
Three seed Simona Halep and six seed Caroline Wozniacki headline this quarter, which also features past champion Victoria Azarenka and 2015 Wimbledon finalist Spaniard Garbiñe Mugurza.
Halep had to pull out of the Toronto Rogers Cup final in the third set with an injury and exhaustion issues after almost getting sick on court. Wozniacki lost in the first round in Toronto, hampered by a left calf injury that is still heavily wrapped in Cincinnati.
A potential blockbuster second round match between Azarenka and Wozniacki should yield the semifinalist from this quarter. Look for Azarenka to advance to the semifinals and continue her climb back up the rankings.
Maria Sharapova has a relatively easy quarter as the two seed, with eight seed Karolina Pliskova and 13 seed Agnieszka Radwanska in her quarter.
Sharapova hasn’t played a match since losing in the Wimbledon semifinals to Serena Williams. She pulled out of the Toronto Roger Cup with a right leg issue. Regardless expect Sharapova to move through to the semifinals out a relatively easy section of the draw.
Semifinals: Ivanovic d Kerber; Sharapova d Azarenka.
Final: Sharapova d Ivanovic.