Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz are among those who have made the journey from Montreal to Cincinnati this week as they prepare to compete in the seventh ATP Masters 1000 event of the season at the Western & Southern Open.
Medvedev, who lifted the trophy in 2019, will face stiff competition from two-time Masters 1000 champion Alcaraz and Spaniard Rafael Nadal, who will try to win his 37th Masters 1000 crown in Cincinnati.
Taylor Fritz leads home hopes, while a string of stars will be aiming for deep runs to help boost their Nitto ATP Finals qualification chances.
ATPTour.com looks ahead at 10 things to watch in Cincinnati.
View Schedule | View Singles Draw | View Doubles Draw
FOLLOW THIS WEEK’S ACTION
📺 TV Schedule
🎾 Watch Live On Tennis TV
📱 Follow Live Scores On ATP WTA Live
📧 Sign Up For Newsletters
1) Medvedev’s No. 1 Status: Medvedev arrives in Cincinnati aiming to secure his World No. 1 status after a disappointing second-round exit against Nick Kyrgios in Montreal left the door ajar for Nadal. The 26-year-old will guarantee his place at the top of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings if he secures two wins at the Masters 1000 event where he triumphed in 2019.
Top seed Medvedev, who also reached the semi-finals in Ohio last season, captured his only title of the year on the hard courts in Los Cabos earlier this month.
2) Nadal In Pursuit: Nadal will take to court for the first time since an abdominal tear forced him to pull out of Wimbledon before the semi-finals in July. The Spaniard, who has lifted 36 Masters 1000 trophies, including a Cincinnati triumph in 2013, will return to No. 1 if he wins the title and Medvedev fails to reach the quarter-finals.
The 36-year-old is making his first appearance in Ohio since 2017 and will be looking to clinch his fifth title of the season and improve on his standout 35-3 record.
3) Alcaraz Chasing Third Masters Crown: #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz was ranked outside the Top 50 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings when he made his debut in Cincinnati last year. Now the 19-year-old is in the Top 5 and is seeded third in Ohio. Alcaraz holds a 12-3 record on hard courts this season, highlighted by his title run in Miami in April.
The 2021 Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals champion will face American wild card Mackenzie McDonald or Nikoloz Basilashvili in his opening match.
4) Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin Contenders: Some of the sport’s biggest stars will be aiming for deep runs in Cincinnati as they aim to boost their qualification chances for November’s Nitto ATP Finals.
Last year’s Cincinnati finalist Andrey Rublev currently occupies the final qualification spot in eighth place in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, while Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime is in seventh and Pole Hubert Hurkacz is in ninth, with the chance to soar to fifth if he lifts the Montreal trophy Sunday.
Rublev, who has won three titles this season, will begin against Albert Ramos-Vinolas or a qualifier, while Rotterdam champ Auger-Aliassime will take on Alexander Bublik or Alex de Minaur. Hurkacz has advanced to the final in Montreal and will aim to maintain his good form against Benjamin Bonzi or John Isner.
5) Ruud Thriving On Hard Courts: Casper Ruud has transferred his strong clay-court form to the hard courts this season, with the Norwegian holding an 11-4 on the surface. The 23-year-old advanced to his maiden Masters 1000 final in Miami earlier this year and arrives in Cincinnati off the back of a run to the semi-finals in Montreal.
Fifth seed Ruud, currently No. 5 in the Pepperstone ATP Live Rankings, earned wins over Reilly Opelka and Diego Schwartzman to reach the quarter-finals in Cincinnati last season.
6) Milan Hopefuls In Action: Denmark’s Holger Rune and American Brandon Nakashima are currently in contention to qualify for the Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, sitting fourth and seventh respectively in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan.
Rune, who reached the second round in Montreal last week, faces a tricky first-round test on debut against ninth seed Cameron Norrie. Nakashima advanced to consecutive quarter-finals in Atlanta and Los Cabos last month and will play Aslan Karatsev in the first round.
7) Kyrgios, Sinner & Tsitsipas Chasing More Silverware: Nick Kyrgios has been revitalised on court this season, arriving in Cincinnati having won 15 of his past 17 matches. The Australian, who is a former finalist in Ohio, lifted the trophy in Washington earlier this month and holds a 30-8 record on the year.
Fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas lifted his second ATP Masters 1000 trophy in Monte Carlo and performed well in Cincinnati last year, reaching the semi-finals, while Sinner clinched the title in Umag last month.
The Italian, currently 14th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, will begin his campaign against a qualifier.
8) Home Hopes: Taylor Fritz will lead the United States charge on home soil in Ohio, with 11 Americans in the draw, not including qualifiers. The 11th seed will be looking to capture his third title of the season and second Masters 1000 crown, having lifted the trophy in Indian Wells.
Tommy Paul enjoyed a run to the last eight in Montreal last week and starts against 21-year-old countryman Jenson Brooksby. Frances Tiafoe faces a difficult test in 12th seed Matteo Berrettini, who will be seeking his eighth tour-level trophy, but first on hard courts. Wild card Sebastian Korda could play the winner if he overcomes Karen Khachanov in the first round.
Newport champion Maxime Cressy is making his tournament debut and starts against Dutchman Botic van de Zandschulp.
9) Former Champions In Draw: Marin Cilic and Grigor Dimitrov have fond memories in Cincinnati, having lifted the trophy in 2016 and 2017, respectively. Croatian Cilic, who beat Andy Murray in the championship match, is 23-14 on the season, with his best result a semi-final run at Roland Garros.
Dimitrov lost to Cilic in the semi-finals in Ohio in 2016, before he defeated Kyrgios for his first Masters 1000 trophy in 2017. The Bulgarian reached the quarter-finals in Indian Wells earlier this season, before advancing to the last four in Monte Carlo.
10) Ram/Salisbury Top Seeds: Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury will lead the doubles field as the top seeds and could face Australian Open winners Thanasi Kokkinakis and Kyrgios in their opening match. Reigning champions Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos and third seeds Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski are also major contenders for the title. Alcaraz, Tsitsipas and Rublev are among the singles stars in doubles action.