July 22, 2024

Open Court


Wild cards finalized for “Cincy” event


It seems the bubble tournament at Flushing Meadows, which includes the relocated Cincinnati event and then the US Open, is really, truly going ahead.

And the wild cards for the Western & Southern Open have been finalized with the announcement of the men’s invitations Monday.

Andy Murray, who hasn’t played a singles match since last November (but who has won his last six – five in taking the title in Antwerp in October, and one win at the Davis Cup Finals in Madrid in November), is having a go.

As well, Americans Tommy Paul, Tennys Sandgren and Frances Tiafoe also will be straight into the main draw.

Paul and Sandgren just finished three weeks at World Team Tennis, while Tiafoe, who tested positive for COVID-19 at the start of an exhibition event in Atlanta earlier in the summer, was deemed ineligible to compete in West Virginia.

Will Clijsters make the date?

A few days ago, the tournament announced the wild cards on the women’s side.

They included Naomi Osaka and Sloane Stephens – two players who would have made the main draw on ranking, but who for whatever reason didn’t enter by the deadline.

It’s a shame, because it robs two others players (who have no guarantee they’ll get out of the qualifying) of a confirmed spot. For no reason.

Young Caty McNally is an Ohio native who has received a few wild cards into the tournament by virtue of being the “hometown girl”. She’s good enough that you wouldn’t expect her to need them for long.

McNally is also playing doubles with fellow teen Coco Gauff.

Venus Williams, who also plans to play doubles with sister Serena (at the US Open, as well), is about a dozen out of making the main draw in singles with her current ranking of No. 67.

As for Kim Clijsters, she put in a lot of match-court time at World Team Tennis – at least at first.

Clijsters ices her abdominal during World Team Tennis play. She missed the last few matches – including the exciting final.

In the latter stages – including in the dramatic, final-point victory of her New York Empire team over the Chicago Smash – she was relegated to cheerleader and tactical duties because of an issue with her abdominal.

There was already a knee issue. So we’ll see, in two weeks or so, if she’s ready to go. She also plans to team up – health permitting – with young American Hailey Baptiste, who was her teammate with the Empire.

Four of top six missing on the women’s side

Defending champion Madison Keys will be on hand to defend her title this year.

Even though four of the top six are missing on the women’s side – No. 1 Ashleigh Barty, No. 2 Simona Halep, No. 5 Elina Svitolina and No. 6 Bianca Andreescu – almost all the other players have entered. So it should be a very competitive event.

On the men’s side, the top of the rankings are well-represented.

Roger Federer has written off 2020 after a second knee surgery. But No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 2 Rafael Nadal, No. 3 Dominic Thiem, No. 5 Daniil Medvedev. No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas, No. 7 Alexander Zverev and No. 8 Berrettini are all on board.

At least for now.

Remember Svetlana Kuznetsova? She was a finalist in Cincy a year ago. The 35-year-old, wracked by injuries in recent years, reached the semifinals in her last tournament in Qatar in February.

Nick Kyrgios, so far, is the only player who has withdrawn from the event. He won’t play the US Open either.

Djokovic is also planning to play doubles with countryman Filip Krajinovic. John Isner and Hubert Hurkacz, Jack Sock and Sam Querrey, Tiafoe and Tommy Paul and and Dan Evans and David Goffin are also among the doubles entries.

On the women’s side, Bethanie Mattek-Sands is planning to play with Zhang Shuai – one of the only Chinese women who looks set to take on the US Open bubble.

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