Osaka, Halep On Deck

The Wednesday schedule is set, and it includes names like Halep, Osaka, Zverev, Kyrgios, Wawrinka, Sharapova and plenty more. Let’s take a closer look at a few key matchups: 


Japan Rising

This time last year, Japan’s Naomi Osaka was a rising star with an Indian Wells title to her name. Today, she’s an international celebrity, with two Grand Slams under her belt. Oh, and she’s currently the world No. 1. 


The 21-year-old played last week in Toronto, losing 6-3, 6-4 to Serena Williams in their first match since last year’s US Open final. Afterward, she tweeted: “I learned so much today, it’s crazy. I had a ball playing tonight, I’m gonna try to keep the fun going.” She’ll look to use that positive attitude to help extend her perfect 3-0 record against Belarusian Aliaksandra Sasnovich in her opening match. 


Osaka isn’t the only Japanese player in action Wednesday. It will be nothing but Nishi when Kei Nishikori and Yoshihito Nishioka face off for the first time.


Nishikori, sitting one spot off his career-high rank of No. 4 in the world, is enjoying an impressive year that’s seen him reach the quarterfinals of the year’s first three majors and capture a title in Brisbane. Five years Nishikori’s junior at 23, Nishioka relies on speed over power and has tallied wins this year over David Goffin, Roberto Bautista Agut and Felix Auger-Aliassime. 


Russian Rumble

On Monday night, Maria Sharapova notched just her second win since January as she’s worked to come back from a nagging shoulder injury. The Sochi native ousted American Alison Riske in round one, but will face a significant test when she meets top seed Ashleigh Barty on Wednesday. 


Barty and Sharapova have split their only two meetings, with Sharapova winning in three sets on the clay in Rome last year and Barty getting the win at this year’s Australian Open – also in three sets. 


Nick Kyrgios looked to be taking his new “professional” tournament approach seriously when he opened his Cincy campaign defeating Lorenzo Sonego in just over an hour. He’ll have his work cut out for him in his first meeting with ninth-ranked Russian Karen Khachanov in the second round. Asked about his brash brand of tennis, the 24-year-old Australian had some thoughts:


“I think people are so concerned about keeping fans in the game, but I personally believe it's about bringing in a whole new different fan base to the game.”


American Madison Keys will look to notch a second win in as many days after taking out 2017 Cincy titlist Garbine Muguruza in three sets Tuesday. She gets crafty Russian Daria Kasatkina next. 


WTA Intrigue

Keep an eye on 2013 Cincy champion Victoria Azarenka and Donna Vekic when they hit the court for the second time in the past month. Vekic, 23, got the best of Azarenka in straight sets in San Jose, maintaining the momentum that’s helped her break into the top 25 for the first time in her career. Azarenka appears to be slowly but surely finding consistency in the penetrating game that made her a two-time Grand Slam champ.  


Pint-sized powerhouse Yulia Putintseva and Sloane Stephens will open night session play on Stadium Court. 


Take a look at all the other mouth-watering matchups here