An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week
A second straight week of ATP Masters 1000 action will begin on Monday at the Western & Southern Open, with the world's best set to compete for the title on the American hard courts.
1) Alcaraz Under Threat: Following his quarter-final defeat to Tommy Paul in Toronto, Alcaraz's position atop the Pepperstone ATP Rankings could come under fire this week. The Spaniard, who reached the Cincinnati quarter-finals last season, must reach the final this year to guarantee his stay at No. 1 and earn the top seed at the US Open ahead of Djokovic.
Alcaraz will open against John Isner or a qualifier, and could face a rematch against Paul in the third round.
2) Djokovic Returns: The Serbian will compete for the first time in a month as he bids to put his Wimbledon final defeat firmly behind him. Returning to the Western & Southern Open for the first time since he won it 2020 — when the event was played in New York — Djokovic is bidding for his third tournament title.
3) Can Medvedev Find Hard-Court Form?: A self-described "hard-court specialist", Daniil Medvedev was almost untouchable on the surface earlier this season when he reached five straight finals and won four titles from February to early April. That run included a title at the ATP Masters 1000 in Miami and a runner-up finish in Indian Wells.
After a quarter-final defeat to Alex de Minaur in Toronto, can the 2019 Cincinnati champion rediscover that imperious form?
4) Tsitsipas, Coric Could Contest Final Rematch: Borna Coric beat Stefanos Tsitsipas in the Cincinnati final last season, and the pair could square off again in this week in the third round. But both men have work to do to reach that stage: Coric opens his title defence against Sebastian Korda and could meet Hubert Hurkacz in the second round, while fourth seed Tsitsipas will open against a home favourite in Ben Shelton or Christopher Eubanks.
5) A Ruud Revival?: Casper Ruud has struggled on the hard courts this season, one year after he broke through at the highest level on the surface by reaching finals at Miami, the US Open and the Nitto ATP Finals. With a 3-3 record across the first three ATP Masters 1000 on hard courts this season, Ruud will be eager to make another deep run before returning to New York, where he will be defending 1,200 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points.
6) Rune, Rublev Seek Second ATP Masters 1000 Crown: Sixth seed Holger Rune and seventh seed Andrey Rublev both won their first Masters 1000 crown in the past 12 months, Rune in Paris last season and Rublev in Monte-Carlo this year. Both have added one more tour-level title since then, with Rune winning Munich and Rublev triumphing in Bastad this season.
7) Sinner Hopes To Stay Hot: After following his Wimbledon semi-final run by reaching his third ATP Masters 1000 final in Toronto, Jannik Sinner will be among the favourites in Cincinnati. Though he is seeded eighth, he enters the event at fourth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin. Two years after making his Nitto ATP Finals debut as an alternate in 2021, Sinner is in prime position to qualify directly this season.
8) Fritz, Tiafoe, Paul Lead Home Hopes: Ten Americans are in the 56-player singles draw, not including potential qualifiers. The host nation has plenty of candidates for a deep run, starting with ninth seed Taylor Fritz, 10th seed Frances Tiafoe and 14th seed Tommy Paul. While Fritz and Tiafoe both enter behind early exits in Toronto, Paul advanced to his first ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Canada and will come into Cincinnati with a new career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking.
9) Felix vs. Berrettini Among First-Round Blockbusters: Twelfth seed Felix Auger-Aliassime will bid to snap a four-match losing streak when he takes on Matteo Berrettini in the first round. Other early showdowns include Alexander Zverev vs. Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray vs. Karen Khachanov and Cameron Norrie vs. Gael Monfils.
10) Djokovic, Tsitsipas In Doubles Draw: Defending champions Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury return as the third seeds in Cincinnati, where a host of singles stars will be hoping to derail their title defence. Among the doubles teams in the draw are Serbians Djokovic and Nikola Cacic; Tsitsipas and Toronto singles semi-finalist Alejandro Davidovich Fokina; Italians Lorenzo Musetti and Lorenzo Sonego; first-round singles opponents Eubanks and Shelton; and Mackenzie McDonald and Tiafoe.