Round of 16 Kicks Off Thursday

 It will be an action-packed day at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on Thursday as a spot in the quarterfinals will be on the line in each of the eight singles matches on the schedule at the Western & Southern Financial Group Women’s Open.

Among the players in action Thursday are an American teenager, four former No. 1s, and two former Cincinnati champions.

Christina Mchale, an 18-year-old from New Jersey, will face a stiff test on Thursday when she battles either Kim Clijsters or Dinara Safina, both former No. 1s.

Mchale is playing to reach her first career Sony Ericsson WTA Tour quarterfinal. Her possible opponents have much deeper resumes. Clijsters is the reigning US Open champion, a title she won for the second time in her career in 2009. Safina has appeared in the finals twice at the French Open and once at the Australian Open in her career.

Also in that quarter of the draw are two players who have had success in Cincinnati. Flavia Pennetta, the No. 11 seed who reached the semifinals here last year, will play No. 6 seed Vera Zvonareva, who won the title here in 2006 and reached the final in 2004.

Pennetta and Zvonareva have split four previous meetings, though Pennetta won two of their three meetings in 2009. Pennetta comes to Cincinnati after reaching the semifinals in San Diego last week, while Zvonareva reached the Wimbledon final earlier this summer.

Top seed Jelena Jankovic will continue her title defense when she plays Akgul Amanmuradova. Jankovic, a former World No. 1, has reached at the least the quarterfinals in all three of her previous appearances in Cincinnati. Amanmuradova, who qualified into this year’s tournament, reached the semifinals here in 2005 as a qualifier.

Another former World No. 1 is lurking in Jankovic’s quarter. Ana Ivanovic, the 2008 French Open finalist, will be facing Russia’s Elena Vesnina on Thursday. The two played earlier this year in Rome, and Ivanovic prevailed in straight sets.

Maria Sharapova looks to improve to 3-0 in her Cincinnati debut when she takes on Agnieszka Radwanska in a battle of 2010 Olympus US Open Series event finalists. Sharapova reached the final in Stanford two weeks ago, while Radwanska was the runner up last week in San Diego.

Four of the six meetings between the two have gone three sets, including a 1-6 6-2 6-2 Sharapova win in Stanford semifinals. Sharapova, a former No. 1, leads the head-to-head 5-1.

Awaiting the winner of that match in the quarterfinals will be the winner of a battle between 2009 US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki and 2007 Wimbledon finalist Marion Bartoli.

The other two round of 16 matches on the bottom half of the draw will feature No. 8 seed Na Li against No. 12 seed Yanina Wickmayer and No. 13 seed Shahar Peer against unseeded Anastasia Pavlychenkova.