August 18, 2013
RAFAEL NADAL AND VICTORIA AZARENKA
Another tournament completed, another batch of winners. Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka leave Cincinnati with a trophy in their hand and a new title under their belt. Both players now head into the US Open after a hot streak in the Midwest.
Rafael Nadal did not have an easy run into the W&S Open finals. After taking out up-and-comer Grigor Dimitrov, he faced his ultimate rival, Roger Federer. Nadal walked out of their 31st meeting with the win and into the semifinals against Tomas Berdych. After a close two sets, Nadal claimed the semis win 7-5, 7-6 (4). Facing American John Isner in the finals, he gutted out an epic match, claiming the title 7-6(8), 7-6(3).
Rafael Nadal now heads to New York, looking to claim his first US Open title since 2010. Onlookers in Cincinnati all agree that Rafa is the favorite against a stacked men's field.
Victoria Azarenka had never made it past the Round of 16 in Cincinnati, until now. Vika took out top players like Caroline Wozniacki and Jelena Jankovic on route to the W&S Open finals. Her toughest battle came in the finals against world No. 1 Serena Williams. The No. 1 and 2 in the world met for the 15th time today, with Serena leading 12-2 before Vika's win. After a quick 6-2 first set win for Serena, Vika came out with a vengeance taking the match 2-6, 6-2, 7-6(6). Victoria Azarenka is now heading to New York in search of her first US Open title. After her run in Cincinnati, she is definitely in everyone's minds to walk away with the trophy.
All eyes will be on the Western & Southern Open victors to see if they can continue their hot streak in New York City.
August 16, 2013
RAFAEL NADAL AND ROGER FEDERER
The stage is set for the 31st meeting of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. In the first night match of Friday at the Western & Southern Open, these two giants will take to the court to see who will advance to the semifinals. If you want to know just how impressive this matchup is, this marks the first time in history that two players with 29 Grand Slam titles between them will face off in a match.
This rivalry all began in 2004 in Miami, where Nadal defeated Federer in straight sets. Heading into their match today, Nadal holds an impressive 20-10 lead.
Today's match marks the 16th time they've squared off in a prestigious ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, with Nadal again leading 11-4. The last time they met in an ATP Masters 1000 match was in the Rome final earlier this year, with Nadal winning in two sets and only dropping four games in total.
Center Court will be at full capacity today as these two tennis icons perform on Cincinnati's biggest stage. We don't know who will walk out with the win, but we do know it will be one epic match nonetheless.
August 14, 2013
No one beats Sloane Stephens four times. Last night Sloane took the court against No. 3 in the world, Maria Sharapova, in an epic three set match. After losing the first set quickly and being down 0-2 in the second set, something clicked. A new Sloane came out on court and dominated the 2011 Western & Southern Open winner, clinching the third set 6-3.
Sloane has always been a threat. Since taking down Serena Williams in the 2012 Australian Open, this young American has been on everyone's radar. And last night against Sharapova she solidified the fact that she is here to become one of the top women's players in the world.
Sloane's will next face the winner of the Jelena Jankovic, the 2009 Western & Southern Open victor, and Ekaterina Makarova match. Coming off Tuesday night's big win, Sloane will head into her next match with confidence and conviction.
The fans at the Western & Southern Open will all be looking at Sloane to see if this will be her big tournament breakthrough and if she can claimher first WTA title.
August 13, 2013
She is a two-time Australian Open Champion. She is ranked No. 2 in the world. But she's never made it past the Round of 16 at the Western & Southern Open. This year Victoria Azarenka is in Cincinnati and ready to make a deep run into one of the strongest women's singles fields the W&S Open has ever seen.
Azarenka has had many ups and downs throughout this 2013 season. After a win in Australia at the beginning of the year, Vika made a run in the French falling to Sharapova in the semifinals. At a wild Wimbledon, she feel early in the Round of 64, along with other top seeds. Vika seemed to get back on track in Carlsbad, only losing to Samantha Stosur in the finals.
Today in Cincinnati, Azarenka looked physically and mentally strong. After taking the first set quickly from American wildcard Vania King, she struggled to hold serve and the match headed into a tight tiebreak. After getting down in the tiebreak 1-4, Vika finally began looking like herself as she brought out some strong serves, killer forehands, and came back to clinch the set 7-6(6).
The No. 2 seed will head into the Round of 16 for only the second time here in Cincinnati. Everyone at the W&S Open will be watching in anticipation to see if this is the year that she finally makes a run for the title.
August 12, 2013
Grigor Dimitrov has many reputations. Some call him "Little Federer" and others know him as Maria Sharapova's boyfriend. But Dimitrov has been making a name for himself over the past few months, and his win over Nicolas Almagro today at the W&S Open only solidified this.
The No. 1 Bulgarian finished in the Top 50 for the first time in 2012 and has since moved up to No. 29 in the ATP Rankings. Earlier in the year, Dimitrov made the finals of Brisbane, falling to Andy Murray 7-6 (0), 6-4.
Claiming his 27th win of the season in his match today against No. 13 seed Almagro, Dimitrov finished the match in 87 minutes with a 7-6 (3), 6-4 win.With 19 aces, he showed not only his opponent, but the fans watching, both his physical strength in the brutal heat and his mental tenacity. Dimitrov's next match will be a challenge against Wildcard Brian Baker, but he goes in 1-0, having beaten the American in Brisbane.
The fans at the Western & Southern Open will be watching Dimitrov in anticipation tomorrow to see if this could be his week to step out of the shadows and clinch an ATP Masters 1000 title.
August 11, 2013
Milos Raonic is making Canadian history. On Monday, Raonic will crack into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings, becoming the first Canadian to ever join this elite group. He struck another cord in history with yesterday's win, as the last time a Canadian man made it into the finals in their homeland was 1958. Following an action-packed Saturday in Montreal, Raonic has set the stage for an epic final today against Rafael Nadal.
With three titles in San Jose and one in Chennai, Raonic is becoming a contender in tournaments around the world. In the past two years, the hard-serving Raonic has risen in the world rankings consistently, setting new records in Canadian tennis.
Although he was somewhat favored in yesterday's match, Raonic went in with a losing 1-3 record against his fellow countryman, Vasek Pospisil. However, he showed his finesse and strength as he came back to clinch the third set 7-6(4).
His final match against Rafael Nadal will be a true test of the Canadian's physical and mental game. All of Canada will be watching today to see if Raonic will take down Rafa and keep the title in his homeland.
August 10, 2013
It’s been two years since Maria Sharapova has stepped foot on the Western & Southern Open courts, but last time she was here she left a champion. This year, Maria is heading back to Cincinnati with a new coach in tow, looking to defend her 2011 title.
For Sharapova, the timing seems to be coming together just in time for her return to the W&S Open. While her Wimbledon performance was less than convincing, she is starting the road to the US Open on the right foot with her recent hiring of Jimmy Connors.
With a 10-1 record here, only losing in the 2010 finals to Kim Clijsters, Sharapova is a favorite to take home the title this August. Her decision to hire Connors may also work in her favor when coming to the W&S Open. Connors is, after all, a past champion, finalist, and six-time semifinalist at the event.
As August rolls around, the tennis world will be keeping an eye on this dynamic duo to see if this is the change necessary to get Sharapova back up to the world number one ranking and to once again claim the W&S Open title.
July 8, 2013
In 2007, a somewhat unknown Marion Bartoli made it to the finals of Wimbledon, only to lose to Venus Williams. Six years later, it was Bartoli holding up the Wimbledon trophy proving to the world that she is the current Queen of the Grass.
Bartoli’s road to the finals was far from a walk in the park. In only the second round, she faced American powerhouse, Christina McHale, walking out with a 7-5, 6-4 victory. Sloane Stephens, an American favorite to take the title, stood in Bartoli’s way in the quarter-finals, but she continued on with a 6-4, 7-5 win.
With a 1-3 record against her next opponent, Bartoli walked into the finals with Sabine Lisicki slightly an underdog. However, winning handly 6-1, 6-4, she proved that a record does not mean much when it comes to the outcome of a Grand Slam final.
Come August, Bartoli will take the stage at the Western & Southern Open, a tournament that she has a 9-8 record at. A two-time quarter-finalist, she is not to be underestimated in her search for a Cincinnati title. The eyes of Cincinnati and of the world will be on Bartoli as she makes her way onto the W&S Open courts to see if she is more than the current Queen of the Grass.
June 20, 2013
After last year’s Olympic victory at the All England Club and his recent win at Queen’s, Andy Murray is finally looking to give the British what they’ve been waiting for since 1936. A Wimbledon Champion.
Playing at the top of his game and now ranked No. 2 in the ATP World Tour rankings, this is the year for Murray to take the crown. However, this will be no easy feat. Between Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, they have captured the past 10 Wimbledon titles.
While speculating about the 2013 Wimbledon draw, many believe that Murray will have to meet the 2010 winner, Nadal, early on in the tournament, in the quarter-finals. While Nadal may intimidate many players in the men’s field, Murray feels ready and is welcoming the chance to beat the best players in the world and prove himself once and for all.
Starting Monday, June 24, all of England will be watching Andy Murray play at the All England Club and hoping that he will finally be the man to bring the trophy back to England.
June 10, 2013
RAFAEL NADAL AND SERENA WILLIAMS
With seven wins under his belt this year, including the French Open, Rafael Nadal is a force to be reckoned with.
As Wimbledon approaches, the only thing on Rafa’s mind is a fresh start. Last year’s Wimbledon did not go as planned, but Nadal is going into the 2013 tournament on fire. With wins ranging from Indian Wells to Madrid to Rome, Nadal is not only looking ready to compete, but playing some of the best tennis of his career.
Those who could stand in his way to a victory in London include, Djokovic, Federer, and Murray. However, Nadal proved in Paris that he will not go down easily.
Rising to her title as the current "Queen of Tennis", Serena is going on 6 wins, following her French Open victory.
As she rolled through the field in Paris, many wonder if anyone will be able to dethrone Williams this year. Looking for her 6th Wimbledon title, Williams is also heading into London leaving a trail of flames behind her.
They were the favorites going into the French and won. Can they do the same at Wimbledon?
June 3, 2013
Following his defeat of Rafael Nadal at Monte Carlo, Novak Djokovic is making a run to become the first singles player to win all nine Masters 1000 events.
With eight Masters 1000 tournament wins under his belt already, Djokovic will be coming to Cincinnati in search of his final victory. But will Djokovic be able to capture the title while going up against such opponents as Federer, Nadal, and Murray?
At the 2012 Western & Southern Open, Federer knocked out Djokovic in the finals, winning the match quite handily with a score of 6-0, 7-6. This year, however, is different, as Djokovic seeks to make history with this ninth Masters 1000 win.
Until August we wait to see if Djokovic will win the Cincy title and with it, the "Masters Slam".