Rafael Nadal withdrew from Western & Southern Open (also known as the Cincinnati Masters). The Spaniard has joined a growing list of players missing from the event. The build up to the US Open has a bumpy start, however the title is now wide open. With Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Milos Raonic also absent, the opportunity for other players to take their chance is now. Who can win Cincinnati with the big three withdrawing?
Djokovic cited the need to recuperate after the busy schedule with Wimbledon and more recently the Olympics, where the World #1 failed to medal, losing to Pablo Carreno Busta in the Bronze Medal match.
Who can win Cincinnati after the Big 3 Withdraw?
The American has made the final in Ohio back in 2013, where he lost to Nadal in two tiebreak sets. This was the best placing for the American. However, Isner has attended the event since 2007, only missing the Olympic year of 2012. Although Cincinnati has not proved to be the happiest hunting ground for Isner, the 36-year-old has also reached the final of other Masters events.
In 2012 Isner lost in the final at Indian Wells against Federer. After the first set went to a tiebreak, Federer managed to break serve to claim that year title in straight sets. In 2016 Isner lost to Andy Murray in a three-set thriller. The Brit was on a 18-match streak when he defeated Isner 6-3 6-7(4) 6-4. Isner has never defeated Murray, who leads the head-to-head 8-0. This proved very useful in 2015 at the first round of the Davis Cup tie in Glasgow, when Isner was against James Ward. The world number 111 (at the time) came back from 2 sets down to claim a momentous victory, thanks in part to the information fed to Ward by Murray.
Miami in 2018 saw Isner defeat Alexander Zverev in three sets to claim his first Masters 1000 title. The American went into the event in 2019 as the defending champion and reached the final again. Unfortunately, the American was defeated again by Federer in straight sets.
The Italian has had a good run up to the hard court swing. Berrettini won his first ATP 500 title at Cinch Championships, at Queen’s Club in London. The Italian followed this up by reaching the final at Wimbledon, before ultimately losing to Djokovic in a four-set thriller. Berrettini has made good progress at the US Open before, and the performances going into Cincinnati give him a chance of lifting a first Masters title.
The Brit is on the comeback trail still, following his resurfacing surgery. Murray has suffered setbacks since, with groin pain forcing him to withdraw from certain events. The Brit was scheduled to play singles and doubles at the most recent Olympic games. However, on advice of his team, he dropped the singles, where he had won the previous two Olympic Singles Gold Medals to concentrate on the doubles with Joe Salisbury.
Murray made the final in Cincinnati in 2016 before losing to Marin Cilic in a hard fought straight set defeat. Murray should not be written off, as the Brit has won 14 Masters titles in his career to date. Although an outside shot for the title, being reliant on a wild card and unknown form, the Brit could make it 15 here.
Young American Brooksby has broken into the top 100 for the first time. The 20-year-old is a promising new prospect for American tennis. Having made the semifinal at the Citi Open the youngster lost to the eventual champion and fifth seed Jannik Sinner. Exciting player to watch play. To quote a certain British player who tweeted recently about Brooksby, “Lots of variety, High Tennis IQ, great in defence” Brooksby is one to watch for the future.
— Andy Murray (@andy_murray) August 6, 2021
And, of course, we can’t count out the usual suspects of Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Alexander Zverev, etc.
Main Photo from Getty.