Manic…Thursday? With every Round of 16 singles match being played on Thursday at the Western & Southern Open, you’ll need to scout your options thoroughly. This list will give you some background info on a few of the fun match-ups in store.
Federer vs. Rublev
Andrey Rublev will take on his second Swiss opponent in as many days when he faces seven time Western & Southern Open champion Roger Federer. Rublev ousted Federer’s countryman Stan Wawrinka in straight sets on Wednesday as he continues to fight his way back after a 2018 stress fracture in his wrist. The 21-year-old Russian rose to a career-high rank of No. 31 in the world last season and has been pegged as a future star since rising to No. 1 in the world in the ITF junior ranks.
Halep vs. Keys
Madison Keys came into the Western & Southern Open having won just one match since June. With wins here over former champ Garbine Muguruza and Daria Kasatkina this week, the 24-year-old former US Open finalist appears to have found her rhythm. She’ll have to break a six-match losing streak against Halep to keep it rolling. Assuming Halep is feeling 100% healthy, history says she should advance.
Djokovic vs. Carreno Busta
Pablo Carreno Busta says his adrenaline was no match for his exhaustion after beating John Isner in a third-set tiebreak at 1:30 Wednesday morning. He fell right to sleep after returning to his room – and it’s a good thing. The Spaniard, ranked as high as No. 10 in the world in 2017, will next face defending champion Novak Djokovic for a spot in his first Cincy Tennis quarterfinal.
Venus vs. Vekic
The matchup between Venus Williams, 39, and Donna Vekic, 23, is another showdown to keep an eye on. Williams is fresh off a marathon upset of defending champion and world No. 5 Kiki Bertens, while Vekic dismissed former champ Victoria Azarenka in straight sets. The pair met last in 2016, when Venus took her out in straight sets at Wimbledon. Since then, Vekic has risen to a career-high rank of No. 22 in the world. In this battle of youth vs. experience, who wins?
Sakkari vs. Sabalenka
Maria Sakkari and Aryna Sabalenka have power to spare, and it’s going to be on full display Thursday. Sakkari, 24, broke into the top 30 this year in a season that has seen her capture her first title in Rabat and notch wins over players like Elina Svitolina, Petra Kvitova and Kiki Bertens.
She’ll be facing Belarusian Sabalenka for the first time, in what’s sure to be a battle of the big groundstrokes. At just 21, Sabalenka is currently sitting at her career-high rank of No. 9 in singles, but she’s also had plenty of success on the doubles court, capturing two titles this year and rising to world No. 14.
Osaka vs. Hsieh
For the fourth time in 2019, Naomi Osaka’s power and shotmaking will collide with Hsieh Su Wei’s touch and variety. The 33-year-old Hsieh got the best of the world No. 1 in three sets earlier this year in Miami, while Osaka, 21, collected wins at the Australian Open and Stuttgart.
See the full schedule here.