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Murray to face Gasquet in singles return while Federer, Djokovic handed tough draws at Cincinnati Masters

Hannah Wilks in ATP Tour 11 Aug 2019
  • Andy Murray to face Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati Masters singles return
  • Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic drawn in same half
Andy Murray makes his return to singles at the Cincinnati Masters this week (PA Sports)

Andy Murray to face Richard Gasquet in singles return while Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer are handed tough draws at the Cincinnati Masters.

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The draw for the 2019 Cincinnati Masters has been released and projects a challenging week ahead for both Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, while Andy Murray faces a familiar foe on his return to singles competition.

Murray took a wildcard into the Cincinnati Masters on Friday, revealing his intention to return to singles competition for the first time since the Australian Open and the hip resurfacing surgery he underwent in January in a bid to end the agony which had driven him to the brink of retirement.

Richard Gasquet (PA Sports)
The former world no. 1 has been cautiously testing out his repaired hip and pain-free body in doubles matches since June and the better-than-expected results, in terms of his body holding up under the stress of competition, has led him to commit to this Cincinnati return despite previously saying it was ‘unlikely’ he would play before the US Open.

Murray will face a fellow veteran who has had his own battles with the physical wear-and-tear that results from a top-flight professional career, with the draw for the Cincinnati Masters naming Murray’s first-round opponent as former world no. 7 Richard Gasquet.

A year older than Murray, Gasquet was heralded as the future of tennis as a child prodigy by a France desperate for a home-grown major champion, but eclipsed as a professional by the likes of Rafael Nadal, Murray and Djokovic, although he won 15 ATP Tour titles and made three Grand Slam semifinals. Gasquet, like Murray, has struggled with a back injury in recent seasons and missed the first four months of 2019 after undergoing groin surgery in January. 

He is currently ranked world no. 66 and has compiled an 11-10 win-loss record in 2019, with his best result a semifinal appearance at the 250 tournament in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, although just last week he scored the 32nd victory of his career over a top-10 opponent when he beat Kei Nishikori at the Rogers Cup in Montreal.

Gasquet won the first two matches he and Murray played but Murray turned the tables when he came back from two sets down to beat the Frenchman in the fourth round of Wimbledon in 2008, a signature victory for the British player which heralded his emergence as a major contender. Gasquet has only won one of their subsequent matches, leaving Murray leading the head-to-head 8-3, but they have not played since the French Open in May 2016 (another victory for Murray). 

The winner of the Murray-Gasquet clash is set to face fourth seed Dominic Thiem, in the half of the draw headed by fourth seed Rafael Nadal.

It is certainly the softer half of the draw, with defending champion Novak Djokovic and seven-time champion Roger Federer both in the top half of the Cincinnati Masters draw.

Djokovic and Federer meet at the net after the 2018 Cincinnati Masters final (PA Sports)
Both Djokovic and Federer are playing their first tournament since facing off in the Wimbledon final.

Djokovic will face either Sam Querrey or Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the second round and could face John Isner or Gilles Simon in the third round, with Fabio Fognini, Denis Shapovalov, Nick Kyrgios and Montreal semifinalist Karen Khachanov among his potential quarterfinal opponents.

Third-seeded Federer will open against either big-serving Matteo Berrettini or Juan Ignacio Londero, with Hamburg champion Nikoloz Basilashvili or the winner of yet another first-round clash between Grigor Dimitrov and Stan Wawrinka waiting in the third round. 

Daniil Medvedev, who has reached the final of the Rogers Cup in Montreal and won more hard-court matches than any other player since the beginning of 2018, is a potential quarterfinal opponent for Federer, as is fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, who beat him at the Australian Open.

Should Djokovic and Federer both reach the semifinals, they will face each other for the 49th time in a rematch of last year’s Cincinnati Masters final, which Djokovic won 6-4, 6-4.

Main-draw play at the Cincinnati Masters has already begun, with the first round to be completed on Monday and Tuesday. 

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Murray to face Gasquet in singles return while Federer, Djokovic handed tough draws at Cincinnati Masters

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have a challenging path at the Cincinnati Masters while Andy Murray will face familiar foe Richard Gasquet in his first singles match since hip surgery

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