Championship Sunday, August 23, 2015
First, it’s the fans of the Western & Southern Open “Who’s Hot” on this day, because the W&S Open set a new attendance record with 199,217 of you coming through the turnstyles. Thanks to everyone who comes out each year to make the Western & Southern Open a fan favorite, as well as a player favorite on tour.
Now, to the court: It’s not often that a player gets to the finals of a tournament seven times, much less wins that tournament each time. But then, Roger Federer is not an ordinary player. Federer won his seventh Western & Southern Open title and defended last year’s title with a straight set victory over Number 1 in the world, Novak Djokovic. It’s his 87th tour-level title and 24th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000. Having beaten World No. 2 Andy Murray in the semi-finals, it marked the first time he had toppled the No. 1 and No. 2 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings in consecutive matches en route to a title. Federer will reclaim the No. 2 spot from the Scot when the new rankings are released on Monday.
Meanwhile, on the women’s side, Serena Williams completed her own W&S Open title defense with a straight set win over the new Number 2 in the world (as of Monday), Simona Halep. In the process, Serena becomes the first woman to successfully defend her title in Cincinnati in the Open Era. She is also the first player in the Open Era to reach three consecutive finals. Now, she heads to the U.S. Open in her quest to own the calendar Grand Slam, something that hasn’t been done since Steffi Graf in 1988.
For successfully defending their 2014 Western & Southern Open titles, there’s little doubt that Roger Federer and Serena Williams head to the U.S. Open with momentum, and they both are “Who’s Hot” for Championship Sunday at the Western & Southern Open.
Saturday, August 22, 2015
It’s not often that you get to avenge a finals loss so quickly, but the men’s doubles team of Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin came back from their Rogers Cup final loss to Bob and Mike Bryan last Sunday with a 6-4, 6-4 win this week over the top seeded Bryans. Then, in Saturday’s semifinals, The unseeded Roger-Vasselin and Nestor duo took care of the team of Feliciano Lopez and Max Mirnyi. Mirnyi was looking to reach the final for a fifth time (winning twice, in 2005-06). For their efforts, Roger-Vasselin and Nestor will meet sixth-seeded Malkowski/Zimonjic in Sunday’s finals, and are today’s Who’s Hot.
Friday, August 21, 2015
It’s the only Masters title he has yet to win, but world number 1 Novak Djokovic is playing like he has his sights set on winning in Mason and being the first player to sweep all nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns. On Friday Djokovic defeated Stan Wawrinka in straight sets to avenge his loss to the Swiss in the French Open finals, and reach the semifinals of the Western & Southern Open. On his way to the win, @djokernole broke Wawrinka’s serve four times and finished the match in just 64 minutes.
Beating Wawrinka could be a good omen for Djokovic, since in the last six tournaments he and the Swiss have met, the winner of that matchup has gone on to win the tournament. So with his win to make it to the Western & Southern semifinals, Novak Djokovic is “Who’s Hot” for championship weekend at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Thursday, August 20, 2015
Call him the “Ace” of the ATP: Ivo Karlovic had a tournament-tying 35 aces on Thursday in his match with Stan Wawrinka. That equals the mark he had set at the Western & Southern Open two times before, in 2004 and again this week.
Wawrinka ended up winning the match in three sets, but Karlovic exits singles play with 84 total aces in three matches. That total ranks among the top five for aces in a single year at the Western & Southern Open. (He and Mardy Fish are tied for the record with 87)
But it’s not just at the Lindner Family Tennis Center where Karlovic deals aces. Last week he became just the second player in ATP history to pass 10,000 career aces, joining Goran Ivanisevic. For his skill as an “ace,” Ivo Karlovic is “Who’s Hot” for Thursday.
Wednesday, August 19, 2015
She had faced Kristina Mladenovic twice before, and both times she had lost to the Frenchwoman. But for Simona Halep, the third time truly was the charm today at the Western & Southern Open. Simona needed three sets after Mladenovic won four straight games after being down 5-3 in the second to force the third stanza. But in the third, Simona earned a break to win, 7-5, 5-7, 6-4. It took almost three hours, but the third seeded Simona Halep advances at the Western & Southern Open, and for that, she is “Who’s Hot” for Wednesday!
Who’s Hot for Tuesday August 18, 2015
She’s already completed the “Serena Slam” (again) and now she’s after the calendar Grand Slam. World No. 1 Serena Williams will look to win her fourth consecutive major title of the year at the U.S. Open and 22nd major title of her career, tying Steffi Graf’s record. And if Serena captures the title in New York she would also complete the calendar year Grand Slam—winning all four of the major tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open) in one calendar year—and join an elite group of only five singles players to do so. And, of course, she is the defending champion at the Western & Southern Open! Serena met the media today in preparation for her defense, so we welcome Serena back to the Linder Family Tennis Center as “Who’s Hot” for this Tuesday!
“Who’s Hot” for Monday, August 17, 2015
Today, who's hot is the amazing ball crew that Director of Facilities Dick Clark puts together each year at the Western & Southern Open. You don't fully appreciate everything they do until it starts raining, like it did Monday afternoon. That's when Clark and his staff jumped into action to clear the courts. And it's choreographed like a Rockettes routine, with dryers and squeegees to get the court world-class ready. Great job to Dick Clark and the crew!
“Who’s Hot” for Sunday, August 16, 2015
Perhaps today it should be “What’s Hot” because today is the first day artists started work on the tennis mural on display here at the Western & Southern Open that features tennis stars past and present. Can you tell already who some of the players are that will be featured on the mural? You can see the artists working on the eventual final product on the Dayton International Destination Stage most afternoons during the tournament.
Who’s Hot for Saturday, August 15, 2015
It’s hard not to cheer for Mirjana Lucic-Baroni as she seems to be enjoying a resurgence in her career. A teenage phenom on tour in the late 1990s, she left the tour the following decade dealing with family and financial problems. But recently she’s been making noise again on tour, upsetting Simona Halep in the third round of the US Open last year and again at this year’s French Open, and today winning her qualifier against Su-Wei Hsieh 7-6, 6-3. She’ll next face Australian Casey Dellacqua for the right to advance.
Photo: Dianne Bunis