The quarterfinals are here! It’s been an amazing week of tennis at the ATP Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati and we are down to the final eight competitors, all looking to lift the winner’s trophy on Sunday. Who will win and who will fall short? I give my best guesses!
ATP Cincinnati Quarterfinal Predictions
Casper Ruud vs Alexander Zverev
Head to Head: never played
Casper Ruud had an impressive round-of-16 victory over Diego Schwartzman at the ATP Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. The Norwegian won 91% of his first-serve points and didn’t face a break point all match. Alexander Zverev had a comfortable victory over Guido Pella in the round of 16. Zverev won 85% of his first-serve points, while holding Pella to only 51% first serves won.
These two have never played before. Ruud’s game centers around his heavy forehand, which he uses to control the baseline and force opponents on the defense. Zverev scrambles well around the baseline, but is at his best when he is dictating with his massive backhand. Ruud is best on clay and his backhand can be especially shaky off of the dirt. Zverev will look to get Ruud into backhand-to-backhand exchanges and I trust Zverev’s weaker shot, the forehand, to hold up better than the Ruud backhand. In addition, given how Zverev is returning, don’t expect Ruud to win over 90% of his first-serve points in this match. Zverev advances to the semifinals.
Prediction: Zverev in 2
Benoit Paire vs Andrey Rublev
Head to Head: 1-0 Rublev
Benoit Paire’s good form continued in his match against John Isner in the Round of 16. Paire broke Isner’s huge serve four times, astonishingly holding the American to 61% of his service points won in the Frenchman’s three-set victory. Andrey Rublev survived a spirited campaign from Gael Monfils, taking down Monfils in two tiebreaks. There was a huge difference between Rublev’s first and second serve in that match, with the Russian winning 87% of his first-serve points, but only 28% of his second-serve points.
Rublev leads the head to head 1-0, but that matchup was in 2016, so it’s irrelevant here. Rublev has a huge game from the baseline, but he didn’t look too convincing in his match against Monfils, with large swings in his level. Paire is playing significantly better tennis than earlier this season, with his backhand as a major weapon and his forehand much more solid than before. Paire should be able to snag a set here, but his forehand is still a major weakness, and Rublev’s huge groundstrokes should allow him to control the baseline and punish the Paire forehand. Rublev wins.
Prediction: Rublev in 3
Felix Auger-Aliassime vs Stefanos Tsitsipas
Head to Head: 4-2 Tsitsipas
Felix Auger-Aliassime produced spectacular tennis to upset Matteo Berrettini in his round of 16 match in Cincinnati. When Auger-Aliassime’s big game is clicking, he’s very tough to beat. Stefanos Tsitsipas did well to come back from a set down to beat Lorenzo Sonego in his round of 16 match. Tsitsipas did much better than Sonego in terms of protecting the second serve, with Tsitsipas winning 68% of his second-serve points compared to only 48% for Sonego.
Tsitsipas leads the head to head 4-2 and has won the last four meetings between the two. The Greed has the more reliable game of the two players, with Auger-Aliassime having stretches of matches where he struggles to put the ball in play. Expect Tsitsipas to have too much game for Auger-Aliassime and advance to the final four in Cincinnati.
Prediction: Tsitsipas in 2
Pablo Carreno Busta vs Daniil Medvedev
Head to Head: 3-2 Medvedev
Pablo Carreno Busta is having a great run of form during this summer hard-court season. Carreno Busta won the Bronze Medal at the Olympics, beating Medvedev and Novak Djokovic in the process, and has taken down Dominik Koepfer and Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarterfinals of ATP Cincinnati. Against Hurkacz, Carreno Busta won 83% of the points on his first serve and 74% of the points on his second serve. Daniil Medvedev is also in tremendous form. The Russian won the Masters 1000 event in Toronto last week and beat Mackenzie McDonald and Grigor Dimitrov to make the final eight this week. Against Dimitrov, Medvedev held the Bulgarian to 29% second serves won.
Medvedev leads the head to head 3-2, although they are 1-1 this season (including that Olympic match). In that match, Medvedev only served at 58% first serves in and won 46% of his second serve points. Medvedev can’t afford a serving performance like he had against McDonald, where he only served at 53% first serves in and won 33% of his second serve points. But, Medvedev rises to the occasion often against top opposition, such as in a tight quarterfinal against Hubert Hurkacz in Toronto, where Medvedev served at 66% first serves in and won 51% of his second serve points (still not great, but better than 46%). While the faster hard courts of Cincinnati give Carreno Busta’s groundstrokes an extra boost, I still trust Medvedev’s offensive capabilities more than Carreno Busta’s. And it’s because of this that I give the Russian a slight edge. Medvedev moves on in a thriller.
Prediction: Medvedev in 3
Main Photo from Getty.