By Erwin Ong
(Cincinnati, OH) -- The women’s singles draw for the 2013 Western & Southern Open was announced at an interactive event in the Grandstand Tent on Friday. American player Lauren Davis, who hails from Cleveland, posed for pictures with fans as they helped pick the chips that would determine first-round battles in this 56-player draw.
Top seed Serena Williams, still in the running at this week’s Rogers Cup event in Toronto, will face a qualifier to open her campaign. Serena’s possible quarterfinal opponents include 2013 Wimbledon Champion Marion Bartoli, the winner of the sure-to-be-epic first round battle between 2011 U.S. Open Champion Samantha Stosur and two-time Grand Slam Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, or American Jamie Hampton. Hampton had Victoria Azarenka on the ropes at this year’s Australian Open but couldn’t close out that third-round victory. The Alabama native has bounced back since, including reaching the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic earlier in July.
And in the other quarter, fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska and defending champion Li Na, the fifth seed, could meet if seeds hold. Radwanska’s third-round opponent could be the winner of a match between two tour veterans: crowd favorite Venus Williams and the late-blooming (and now Wimbledon semifinalist) Kirsten Flipkens.
Along with the Williams Sisters and Hampton, the other American ladies will start their 2013 Western & Southern Open campaign as follows: wildcard Lauren Davis will face Klara Zakopalova, Varvara Lepchenko will play Italy’s Flavia Pennetta, Sloane Stephens opens against a qualifier, and Bethanie Mattek-Sands faces Italian Roberta Vinci.
Belarus’ Victoria Azarenka, the second seed, could face Ana Ivanovic in the Round of 16. The Serb has shown glimmers of her 2008 self – when she held the French Open title and the No. 1 ranking simultaneously – on the hardcourts, including a close match against Li Na in Toronto this week. Petra Kvitova, the seventh seed, might not be able to defend last year’s semifinal appearance when she faces the resurgent Sorana Cirstea; the Romanian reached the semifinals at the Bank of the West Classic and the quarterfinals of the Citi Open in Washington, D.C.
That other quarter in the bottom half contains more of this summer’s heavy hitters. Slovakia’s Dominika Cibulkova, who won the Southern California Open in Carlsbad, Calif., last month and reached the quarterfinals at the Rogers Cup in Toronto, is on a collision course with French Open semifinalist Sara Errani. Jelena Jankovic, the Western & Southern Open’s 2009 champion, faces a dangerous first-round opponent in 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki. Sloane Stephens, who broke through with her semifinal run at this year’s Australian Open, could face third seed Maria Sharapova in the second round.
The top 8 seeds receive first-round byes at this tournament; View the entire draw here: http://assets.usta.com/assets/663/15/WTA_Singles_Draw.pdf