There’s no better way to kick off the weekend than with Western & Southern Open draws in hand. Friday night’s Porsche Draw Party yielded the matchups we’ve all been waiting for – and we’ve got a few sizzling starters to watch closely.
Maria Sharapova vs. Alison Riske
Riske may be 0-3 against Sharapova in their career head-to-head, but Riske’s red-hot summer performance could mean trouble for the Russian. Riske, 29, won her second title on grass in S’hertogenbosch, reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and, just last week in Toronto, took out rising star Maria Sakkari. Sharapova, 32, is playing just her fourth tournament since January as she continues her comeback from a nagging shoulder injury.
Madison Keys vs. Garbine Muguruza
No. 16 seed Keys holds at 3-1 head-to-head record over two-time major champion Muguruza. The Spaniard’s lone win? Right here in Cincinnati en route to the title in 2017. Though Keys, 24, and Muguruza, 25, have struggled to find their rhythm this summer, both are capable of producing eye-popping tennis.
Caty McNally vs. Elise Mertens
Want to add some local flavor to your Cincy tennis experience? We’ve got just the solution. Wild card and Cincinnati native McNally – just 17 years old – will look to build on her breakthrough season with a win over 2018 Western & Southern Open doubles finalist Mertens. Belgium’s Mertens, who has also been ranked as high as No. 12 in the world in singles, has the ability to match McNally’s all-court game, producing exciting, creative points along the way. McNally will need the hometown crowd to keep her momentum in full swing after reaching the semifinals two weeks ago in Washington, D.C.
Stan Wawrinka vs. Grigor Dimitrov
Deja vu? Last week in Montreal, Wawrinka took out 2017 Cincinnati champion Dimitrov 6-4, 6-4 in the first-round. Dimitrov will have a chance for revenge when they meet for the 11th time here in Cincinnati. Since his return to the ATP Tour this spring following knee surgery, 34-year-old Wawrinka has risen from outside to the top 50 to No. 22 in the world. Here’s an added wrinkle: as of June, Wawrinka is working with Dimitrov’s former coach, Dani Vallverdu. Dimitrov, 28, has been working to regain his 2017 form, splitting Vallverdu in favor of Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek. Get your popcorn.
Gael Monfils vs. Frances Tiafoe
They’ve never played before, but it’s safe to say this one will be fun. France’s Monfils, a former world No. 6 who reached the quarterfinals here in 2011, has both one of the biggest games and personalities on tour. It would be easy to describe 21-year-old Tiafoe the exact same way. The Maryland native had his breakthrough tournament in Cincinnati in 2017 when he took out Alexander Zverev en route to the third round. He’s since broken into the top 30 following a run to the Australian Open quarterfinals in January. Expect this duo to put on a show.
Andy Murray vs. Richard Gasquet
There was only one announcement that rivaled the Western & Southern Open draw reveal on Friday, and that was the fact that Murray will be making his singles comeback right here in Cincinnati. The 32-year-old Scot hasn’t played singles since his first-round loss at the Australian Open, where many thought injury-induced retirement was imminent. He has since undergone hip surgery that afforded him the ability to get back on a tennis court. He owns an 8-3 record over Gasquet, who is also working his way back after groin surgery last winter, but records will mean very little when these two take the court. It’s a win-win for fans.
There will be SO many interesting matches to catch once main draw play begins for both the ATP and WTA on Monday. Check out the full men’s draw here and the women’s draw here.