It will be anyone’s game when women’s main draw play begins on Monday at the Western & Southern Open. Cincinnati’s Linder Family Tennis Center will also play host to a heated race to No. 1 with several players within striking distance of the top ranking.
Defending champion and current world No. 1 Karolina Pliskova headlines the field, with a potential quarterfinal matchup against Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki, who took out Pliskova in a grueling three-setter Friday in Toronto, could also be in the running for the top ranking if she reaches the final in Canada.
Wimbledon champion Garbine Muguruza is on a quarterfinal crash course with two-time Grand Slam titlist Svetlana Kuznetsova. Like Wozniacki, she has a chance to reach the No. 1 ranking if she reaches the Toronto final on Sunday. Muguruza’s section of the draw also features one of the most anticipated first-round matchups: Maria Sharapova vs. Jelena Ostapenko. It will be a faceoff between two French Open champions on the hard courts of Cincinnati. Get your popcorn ready!
Angelique Kerber has struggled to find her rhythm in 2017, but has historically played well in Cincinnati, reaching the final here twice. Should the seeds hold, she’ll meet No. 5 seed Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals. Svitolina has been one of the most consistent players on tour this season, capturing four titles in 2017. If she reaches the Toronto final, she, too will be in the running to reach the top ranking for the first time in her career.
No. 2 seed Simona Halep is on track to get a quarterfinal rematch against Johanna Konta, who ousted her in a grueling three-set match at Wimbledon last month. As she has been for much of the season, Halep is the fifth and final player in the running for the No. 1 ranking with a strong run in Cincinnati.
While it’s easy to look ahead, there are plenty of quality matchups in the first round. In addition to Sharapova-Ostapenko, keep an eye out for American’s Madison Keys and CoCo Vandeweghe. The two played each other just last week in the Stanford final, with Keys taking her first title of the season in straight sets.
Reigning WTA Finals champion Dominika Cibulkova drew rising star Ana Konjuh. At 19 years old, Konjuh cracked the top 20 earlier this year, taking out Cibulkova at Wimbledon. As the special guest at Friday’s draw party, Cibulkova gamely noted she looked forward to a chance for “revenge.”
Here are a few more first-round matches to keep an eye on:
Venus Williams vs. Alison Riske
Elina Vesnina vs. Caroline Garcia
Agnieszka Radwanska vs Julia Goerges
Petra Kvitova vs. Anett Kontaveit