Djokovic, Nadal and Serena Williams on Western & Southern Open entry list

hannahwilks in Cincinnati Masters 29 Jul 2020
Novak Djokovic is on the entry list for the Western & Southern Open, 22-28 August (Credit Image: © Adam Lacy/Icon SMI via ZUMA Press)

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams have all entered the Western & Southern Open, to be played the week before the US Open – but will they all turn up?

The player entry lists for the Western & Southern Open have been released a little under a month before the tournament is set to begin. But one suspects the actual player field might look a little different when the draw rolls around.

Relocated from Cincinnati to New York for one year only, the Western & Southern Open will be played from 22-28 August and form a two-tournament ‘bubble’ with the US Open, which is scheduled to begin on 31 August.

At first glance the player entry list looks extremely strong, with 16 of the men’s top 20 led by world no. 1 and 2 Djokovic and Nadal, and Serena Williams one of five WTA top-10 players and former champions due to appear.

However, on the men’s side, entry for a Masters 1000 Series is automatic for players ranked highly enough and might not reflect who will actually turn up. For instance, world no. 19 Grigor Dimitrov is on the list, but said just a few days ago that he was highly unlikely to play the US Open due to the ongoing effects of his bout with COVID-19.

Nadal, the defending champion at the US Open, won the Cincinnati Masters in 2013 but there have been few indications he intends to make the trip to the USA in August: The world no. 2 has been frequently pictured practicing on clay in recent weeks and has been confirmed as entered for the Madrid Masters, which begins on the day of the US Open final. Thanks to the ATP Tour’s revised ranking system, Nadal will retain his points for winning the US Open in 2019 until the event takes place in 2021, so there is no ranking incentive for him to play.
Djokovic, who captured the Cincinnati title in 2018, has openly wondered about the wisdom of playing the US Open, but is more likely to actually play – he at least has been seen practicing on hard courts recently.

Should the world no. 1 play, he could be joined by defending champion Daniil Medvedev, who made the final of the US Open last September; world no. 3 Dominic Thiem; and worlds no. 6 and 7, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev.

Players who definitely will not be at the Western & Southern Open include world no. 9 Gael Monfils, world no. 11 Fabio Fognini and world no. 17 Stan Wawrinka. It’s legitimate to take this as an indication that those men will not be playing the US Open, given that the Masters 1000 Series event is the only ATP tournament scheduled before the Grand Slam.


On the women’s side, there are some surprising absences. While Williams’s presence is a huge boon to the tournament, she is also scheduled to play the Top Seed Open in Lexington from 10-16 August and if that goes well, she might decide not to play ‘Cincinnati’ ahead of the US Open.

It’s not surprising to see world no. 1 and 2 Ashleigh Barty and Simona Halep skipping the event, as both have seemed sceptical about the prospect of travelling to the USA. It’s more surprising that neither world no. 6 Bianca Andreescu nor world no. 10 Naomi Osaka are in the entry list. Andreescu, the defending US Open champion, and Osaka, the 2018 winner, have not entered Lexington either, which means that both women – despite being based on the continent of North America – will either play the US Open without any warm-up tournaments whatsoever, or won’t be playing the US Open. In Andreescu’s case this could be an injury issue; the Canadian has barely played a match since winning the US Open in 2019 due to a knee injury. Osaka’s motives are less clear.

The Western & Southern Open field will be led by world no. 3 Karolina Pliskova and world no. 4 Sofia Kenin, the American who claimed her maiden major title in January at the Australian Open. Kiki Bertens, the 2018 Western & Southern Open champion, Belinda Bencic and Williams are the other top-10 players in the field, while defending champion Madison Keys is also scheduled to play.