© Ed Taylor

Rafael Nadal has the chance to return to World No. 1 by winning Cincinnati.

Cincinnati Draw: In Battle For No. 1, Medvedev & Nadal In Opposite Halves

Alcaraz, Ruud highlight third quarter

Daniil Medvedev is two Western & Southern Open wins away from securing his status as World No. 1 through the US Open, but a dangerous group of players could stand in his way in Cincinnati, Friday's draw revealed.

The top seed will open against either Maxime Cressy or Botic van de Zandschulp before a potential third-round meeting against one of 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov, Denis Shapovalov, Tommy Paul or Jenson Brooksby. Should Medvedev reach the quarter-finals, he could get a chance to avenge his Montreal loss to Nick Kyrgios, who meets Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the opening round and could see 11th seed Taylor Fritz following that.

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Rafael Nadal, set for his first competitive action since an abdominal tear forced him to pull out of Wimbledon, could pass Medvedev at the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if he wins the Cincinnati title and his rival fails to reach the quarter-finals. Seeded second, the Spaniard will face Borna Coric — who entered the draw with a protected ranking — or a qualifier in his first match.

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Seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime is also lurking in Nadal's bottom quarter. The Canadian will open play against the winner of one of the standout first-round matchups between Alexander Bublik and Alex de Minaur.

Carlos Alcaraz and Casper Ruud share the draw's third quarter, while Stefanos Tsitsipas and Hubert Hurkacz landed in the second section. Returning finalist Andrey Rublev is seeded sixth and will hope to emerge from Medvedev's top quarter.

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In addition to Bublik vs. De Minaur, other notable first-round contests include Dimitrov vs. Shapovalov, ninth Cameron Norrie vs. Holger Rune, 12th seed Matteo Berrettini vs. Frances Tiafoe and Pablo Carreno Busta vs. Miomir Kecmanovic.

Main-draw action begins Sunday at the ATP Masters 1000 event.