Federer-Murray Early Cincy Showdown Possible; Rafa In Brutal Quarter
Roger Federer and Andy Murray, who have combined to win nine of the past 13 Western & Southern Opens, could meet in a blockbuster third-round clash in Cincinnati. And while fans will salivate over that possible meeting between two former World No. 1s, there is plenty to watch out for with top seed Rafael Nadal, defending champion Grigor Dimitrov and 69-time tour-level titlist Novak Djokovic all getting placed in a stacked top quarter.
If Federer moves past Peter Gojowczyk or Joao Sousa and Murray defeats 16th seed Lucas Pouille and then Leonardo Mayer or a qualifier, the superstars will face one another for the 26th time in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. It would be their first meeting since the same tournament three years ago.
Murray is competing in just his fourth tournament in nearly 14 months, continuing his comeback from hip surgery in January. And if he plays Federer, he will try to overcome a five-match losing streak against the Swiss. Federer, who leads their rivalry 14-11, has triumphed in three of their four battles in Cincinnati, with their past three meetings at the event (2009, 2014, 2015) coming in the quarter-finals or later.
The rest of their quarter is full of standouts as well, as whoever emerges from their section will likely face eighth seed Dominic Thiem, 12th seed Diego Schwartzman, former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka or Japanese star Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.
All eyes will be on the top quarter, though, with four current or former Top 3 players in the ATP Rankings looking to make their mark at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Nadal could possibly meet Canadian Milos Raonic in his opener, so long as the eight-time titlist advances past a qualifier.
The Spaniard, who triumphed in Cincinnati five years ago, could eventually face Dimitrov or Djokovic in the quarter-finals. Dimitrov lifted his first Masters 1000 title in Ohio one year ago, while Djokovic is trying to complete the career ‘Golden Masters’, as Cincinnati is the only tournament at the elite level he has not yet won. The duo could meet in the third round, with a second-round clash against Marco Cecchinato, who beat Djokovic in the Roland Garros quarter-finals, looming for the Serbian.
Third seed Alexander Zverev, a three-time Masters 1000 winner, is projected to meet 2016 champion Marin Cilic in the quarter-finals. Fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro, who is pursuing his second title at this level, will potentially meet sixth seed Kevin Anderson in the last eight.
But don’t wait for all of those possible matches to come to fruition, as you can grab popcorn for plenty of meetings in the first round.
#NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas, who on Friday at the Rogers Cup became the youngest player to beat three Top 10 players at a single tournament since Rafael Nadal at the 2006 Monte-Carlo Masters, will face 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin in his opener. The 19-year-old has won two of three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against the Belgian, including a victory last October in Antwerp to reach his maiden ATP World Tour semi-final.
An all-#NextGenATP opener also promises to be a thriller, with Canadian Denis Shapovalov and American Frances Tiafoe clashing for the second time. Tiafoe beat the left-hander in the Delray Beach Open semi-finals earlier this season en route to his maiden tour-level title.