Novak Djokovic could be headed for a semifinal clash with defending champion Daniil Medvedev as the Cincinnati Masters 2020 takes…
Novak Djokovic could be headed for a semifinal clash with defending champion Daniil Medvedev as the Cincinnati Masters 2020 takes place in New York.
We break down the women’s singles draw, analyse the contenders and predict the semifinalists and champion as Djokovic, Medvedev, Dominic Thiem and Stefanos Tsitsipas lead the field at the Western & Southern Open.
ATP Cincinnati Masters, New York Preview
The 2020 tennis season will finally get a Masters 1000 Series event played as the Western & Southern Open takes place, with main-draw play beginning on Saturday 22 August.
The tournament is being played behind closed doors at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Centre, and is the first official ATP Tour event to be played since early March. Top seed Djokovic brings a perfect 18-0 record this season as he leads the field, and could be set for what would be a rematch of last year’s semifinals against defending champion Medvedev.
ATP Cincinnati Masters, New York Draw Analysis
Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Novak Djokovic (1) vs David Goffin (7)
Djokovic takes the court in New York having last lost a singles match in November, and having last played an ATP match in February when he beat Tsitsipas in the Dubai final. The world no. 1 has been in defiant mood, repeating his comparison of the media criticism he’s received lately to a ‘witch hunt’, but inasmuch as these things ever seem to affect his tennis, they tend to bring out the best in him – and Djokovic’s best is formidable.
This is not to say we should expect to see the 17-time Grand Slam champion playing anything like his finest, smoothest tennis next week. At 33, even the supremely fit Djokovic will be urgently trying to manage the physical transition back to competition after such an unusual and lengthy layoff as best he can.
Wildcard Tommy Paul or a qualifier (a particularly dangerous proposition at the moment because they have had recent matches) will be Djokovic’s first opponent. Felix Auger-Aliassime, 13-9 in 2020 with two finals reached to his credit, could await if he isn’t ousted by hard-hitting Nikoloz Basilashvili.
David Goffin was a surprise finalist in Cincinnati last year, but he had a very soft draw and this isn’t. Every player in his section except perhaps Benoit Paire could be a threat, especially when he could face Denis Shapovalov, Marin Cilic, Jan-Lennard Struff or Alex de Minaur in the third round. On the other hand, none of them look very threatening to Djokovic.
Predicted semifinalist: Djokovic
Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Daniil Medvedev (3) vs Roberto Bautista Agut (8)
It’s so hard to know what to expect from Medvedev. Last year’s US Open finalist and Cincinnati champion was 8-4 before the shutdown, during which he played little. Now defending his points in ‘Cincinnati’ (although revised rankings take that pressure off), Medvedev has a nice draw to play himself into form – a qualifier in the second round with Cristian Garin or Taylor Fritz in the third round. He should make the quarterfinals.
The perpetually underrated Roberto Bautista Agut has made a Masters 1000 Series final in the past (Shanghai 2016) and his draw isn’t bad, either: The Spaniard could open against Richard Gasquet, against whom he is 5-2. Projected third-round opponent Karen Khachanov could well go out in the first round to the unpredictable Sascha Bublik, who would have run out of steam by the time he got to Bautista Agut, or indeed to Pablo Carreno Busta in the second round. This is one quarter where seeding could hold up.
Predicted semifinalist: Bautista Agut
Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Matteo Berrettini (6) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (4)
Berrettini and Tsitsipas both played Patrick Mouratouglou’s innovative Ultimate Tennis Showdown during the shutdown, so we’ll see if that ecelectic format had a beneficial effect for them.
Big-serving Berrettini was a surprise US Open semifinalist last year but had played just two matches in 2020 before the shutdown due to injury, so he could be an early seeded casualty, opening against a match-tough qualifier with tenacious Diego Schwartzman or big-serving Reilly Opelka waiting in the third round.
Tsitsipas should be in better shape, but he’s got a tougher draw. Former US Open finalist Kevin Anderson or Great Britain’s Kyle Edmund will be his opening opponent, while either John Isner or Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz are likely to await in the third round if he gets through that. This is the quarter of the big servers; could the diminutive Schwartzman outwit them all?
Predicted semifinalist: Schwartzman
Projected quarterfinal by seeding: Alexander Zverev (5) vs Dominic Thiem (2)
A really interesting, tightly-packed quarter this one. Thiem played 28 exhibition matches during the shutdown, just to keep his hand in, and if someone apart from Djokovic is going to win the US Open, the Austrian has to be among a shortlist of contenders. Often Thiem is too exhausted/over-scheduled to be at his most effective at this time of year, but that shouldn’t be a problem in 2020.
Thiem could open against Filip Krajinovic, a better player than his ranking but injury-prone and erratic, with Grigor Dimitrov a projected third-round opponent, although the Bulgarian is unlikely to be at his best after a draining bout of COVID-19.
Zverev has a rather tougher path of it: He could open against Andy Murray, should the man with the metal hip beat Frances Tiafoe in the first round. Andrey Rublev, the Russian who scored wins over Tsitsipas and Roger Federer on American hard courts last year, could await in the third round: Rublev faces Dan Evans, who played well during the Battle of the Brits, and who is a career-high world no. 28 at the moment, in the first round, but leads the head-to-head 2-1. Big servers Milos Raonic (always dangerous despite his struggles with injury) and Sam Querrey will face the winner.
ATP Cincinnati Masters, New York Prediction
Semifinals: Djokovic d. Bautista Agut
Thiem d. Schwartzman
Final: Djokovic d. Thiem