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ATP Cincinnati Draw Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Nadal and Djokovic in top quarter; Federer, Wawrinka and Murray in bottom quarter of packed Cincinnati draw

Leye Aduloju in ATP Tour 11 Aug 2018
  • Western and Southern Open is live from Cincinnati from 13-19 August
  • Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic are in the top quarter
  • Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Dominic Thiem are in the bottom quarter
Roger Federer and Andy Murray return to the tour after missing Toronto, and they could meet in the third round. (Photo by MICHAEL BUHOLZER/AFP/Getty Images)

Rafael Nadal headlines the Cincinnati field, while Roger Federer and Andy Murray return to action in a packed draw at the Western and Southern Open.

Who will emerged from an absolutely jam-packed field to claim the last significant prize before the US Open? We preview the draw.

First Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Rafael Nadal [1] vs Grigor Dimitrov [5] (Nadal leads 11-1 on head-to-head)
There is not much room to wriggle for Rafael Nadal in this draw, as he potentially begins his bid for a second Cincinnati against the big-serving Canadian, Milos Raonic. It’s a match that Nadal should win- he’s 7-2 against Raonic, who has been disturbed by injuries for the best part of the last two years- but the Canadian remains a dangerous presence in any ATP draw. I still think Nadal will get through to the third round, where he is seeded to meet Kyle Edmund. The British No. 1 has not been in the best of forms of late, and is coming off successive opening round losses from Washington and Toronto. There’s every chance of that poor run continuing as he opens his tournament against the dangerous Mackenzie McDonald. Even he gets through McDonald, I think he’ll come unstuck against Denis Shapovalov or Frances Tiafoe in the second- Shapovalov-Tiafoe, an intriguingly exciting first-round match-up. 

Rafael Nadal. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
Shapovalov played two very good matches against Jeremy Chardy and Fabio Fognini in Toronto last week, but he was surprisingly listless in a third-round loss to Robin Haase. I’ll put that down as a blip; and back him to bounce back strongly in Cincinnati.

Regardless of who comes through that section, Nadal should make the quarter finals, where the draw predicts he takes on defending champion, Grigor Dimitrov. However, there’s the small matter of Novak Djokovic, who is still seeking his first Cincinnati crown, somewhere in the mix. Playing his first tournament since Wimbledon, Djokovic never really got going in Toronto last week, even in his victories over Mirza Basic and Peter Polansky. He was eventually knocked out by Stefanos Tsitsipas in the third round. I expect Djokovic to be better in Cincinnati, as the five-time finalist attempts to capture the only significant trophy still missing from his cabinet. He’s got a reasonably OK draw, with an opening match against Steve Johnson and a possible rematch with Marco Cecchinato in the second round (provided Cecchinato gets past Adrian Mannarino), and a then a potential third-round meeting with Grigor Dimitrov.

For me, Djokovic gets through to the quarters to take on Rafael Nadal from this section.

Predicted Quarter Final: Rafael Nadal vs Novak Djokovic
Semi-Finalist: Novak Djokovic

Second Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Alexander Zverev [3] vs Marin Cilic [7] (Zverev leads 5-1 on head-to-head)
Alexander Zverev must still be smarting from his quarter final exit in Toronto, where he surrendered a position of great strength to give up his Rogers Cup title following a three-set loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas. Zverev looked set to cruise into the semi-finals when he led 6-3 5-2, but he somehow bungled the match from there, (aided of course by a brilliant fightback from Tsitsipas), and now looks to hit back in Cincinnati. Problem is: He’s never won a match in three previous visits to Ohio. 

Alexander Zverev. (Photo by Vaughn Ridley/Getty Images)
There’s nothing overly dramatic about Zverev’s draw, which grants him a first-round bye before an opening match against Toronto quarter finalist, Robin Haase or Serbian, Filip Krajinovic- tricky but very winnable. Should Zverev come through that, he is seeded to meet Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round, but the Spaniard will have to get past Richard Gasquet in R1, and potentially Maximilian Marterer in the second round. Given the way Zverev played in Washington and Toronto (with the exception of the second half of his match against Tsitsipas), he should have enough to move into the quarter finals, where he will likely play one of Marin Cilic, John Isner or Karen Khachanov. 

I’m ruling out Isner as he’s not been playing well recently- he’s had a couple of quiet weeks in Washington and Toronto; I think Khachanov will struggle to back up his strong week in Canada (he was a semi-finalist at the time of writing), which leaves us with former champion, Cilic- who was only stopped by Nadal in the Toronto quarters. 

Predicted Quarter Final: Alexander Zverev vs Marin Cilic
Semi-Finalist: Alexander Zverev

Third Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Kevin Anderson [6] vs Juan Martin del Potro [4] (Del Potro leads 7-0 on head-to-head)
After pulling out of the Rogers Cup because of a left wrist injury (bringing back memories of his troubled past with the wrist), Juan Martin del Potro is in the Cincinnati draw, but how far he goes will be dependent on how well he is feeling and how much he’s willing to risk the wrist. The injury-prone Argentine has had extended spells of good health this season, allowing him to regain a spot in the top four, but are his exertions starting to take a toll on his body?

If del Potro is operating at full capacity, he’s got an excellent chance of advancing to a third Cincinnati semi-final. The Argentine has a first-round bye, and opens against the Hyeon Chung, who has been struggling with injuries for a while now, or Jack Sock, who has been terribly out of form this season. 

Juan Martin Del Potro. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
Del Potro is drawn to face Nick Kyrgios in the third round, but given Kyrgios’ current injury crisis, there’s no guarantee that he will complete a match this week. Kyrgios made the final last year, but the Australian does not look in any shape or form to get anywhere close to that at the moment. With virtually everyone else carrying one problem or the other in this section, perhaps Borna Coric can rise above the walking wounded and pinch a quarter final berth? He opens against a qualifier and could play Kyrgios in the second round.

The other side of the quarter is headlined by Kevin Anderson, fresh from a strong semi-final in Toronto (as at the time of writing). I expect Anderson’s uncomplicated style to deliver again, including against David Goffin or Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential third-round clash.

Predicted Quarter Final: Borna Coric vs Kevin Anderson
Semi-Finalist: Kevin Anderson

Fourth Quarter

Projected Quarter Final: Roger Federer [2] vs Dominic Thiem [8] (Thiem leads 2-1 on head-to-head)
When you have Grand Slam champions like Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka loitering around the tour well outside the top 100, or outside the top 300, as is the case with Andy Murray, things like this are always bound to happen. The bottom quarter houses Murray and Wawrinka, as well as Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem and of course, Roger Federer, who plays his first tournament since surrendering a two-set lead to Kevin Anderson in the quarter finals at Wimbledon. 

After a first-round bye, Federer shouldn’t have any problems against Joao Sousa or Peter Gojowczyk, but he could run into Murray in the third round, provided the Scot gets past Lucas Pouille and possibly, Leonardo Mayer in his first two rounds. Murray reached the semi-finals in his most recent tournament in Washington, but pulled out of Toronto as he continues to manage his return to the tour after hip surgery. The former world number one has shown encouraging signs in recent months, but this is a very tough draw for him. Pouille has been all over the place lately, but he is a quality player, and will regain some form at some point, while Mayer can catch fire with his serve and forehand. Even Murray manages to get through, his tournament will most likely end against Federer.

Roger Federer. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Federer makes the quarter finals, but who joins him? 

The draw projects Dominic Thiem, but I’m striking out Thiem from my list, as the Austrian is averse to anything outside clay. Wawrinka played his best tennis since his return from multiple knee surgeries in Toronto last week, battling to three-set wins over Nick Kyrgios and Marton Fucsovics, and causing Rafael Nadal an almighty scare in the quarter finals, and if he can replicate that sort of form in Cincinnati, he is the prime candidate for the last eight for me. However, he has got a tough opener against Diego Schwartzman (who will make him hit a lot of balls), before a potential second round meeting with Nishikori, who must also navigate a testing opener against Andrey Rublev.

I’m going for Wawrinka to make the quarters; I think confidence has been a major issue since his return to tour, but he appeared to have sorted that out in Toronto, where he pulled off two comeback wins against Kyrgios and Fucsovics, and almost swung himself into a third set against Nadal.

Predicted Quarter Final: Roger Federer vs Stan Wawrinka
Semi-Finalist: Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic vs Alexander Zverev
Kevin Anderson vs Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer

Novak Djokovic

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ATP Cincinnati Draw Preview, Predictions and Live Stream: Nadal and Djokovic in top quarter; Federer, Wawrinka and Murray in bottom quarter of packed Cincinnati draw

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic could meet in the quarter finals in Cincinnati, while Roger Federer, Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are all in the bottom quarter of a loaded field. Read our draw preview, predictions and find out how to stream the tournament live online

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