By Nick McCarvel
A day of interruptions on Thursday leaves the Friday schedule at the Western & Southern Open jammed with action, featuring a handful of third round matches as well as a full quarterfinal slate. And - potentially - two Rafael Nadal matches.
Here are a slew of can’t-miss contests for you to brief yourself on as we look forward to sunshine... and lots of tennis!
Garbiñe Muguruza vs. Svetlana Kuznetsova
First match, Center Court
Muguruza gave herself a second life in this event by saving three match points against Madison Keys on Thursday and now has the chance to make a second straight semifinal here and keep her hopes of being WTA No. 1 come Monday. She is 4-1 against Kuznetsova, including a Wimbledon win in the quarterfinals just a few weeks ago. Both of these players are monster strikers of the ball, so whoever is having the A-plus day on court moves into the final four.
Nick Kyrgios vs. Ivo Karlovic
Second match - not before 1pm, Grandstand
Kyrgios is the one with the lead in this series, 3-0 in fact, including a tight-as-can-be battle in Miami earlier this year, the Australian winning in a third-set tiebreak. Karlovic was lights-out in an upset win over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last round, though Kyrgios hasn’t batted an eye in decisive victories over David Goffin and Alexandr Dolgopolov to start his Cincy campaign. Expect this one to be electric.
Rafael Nadal vs. Albert Ramos Vinolas
Second match - not before 1pm, Center Court
These two Spaniards last faced off in the Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo earlier this season, Nadal skipping through in straight sets, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal has less than 24 hours to recover after a late-night finish against Richard Gasquet on Wednesday, but the 2013 champion will be an overwhelming favorite against a guy who hasn’t been able to win a set against him in three matches played.
John Isner vs. Jared Donaldson
Third match, Center Court
It’s been a career week for Donaldson, the 20-year-old from Rhode Island who is into not only his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal, but first ATP quarterfinal of any kind. He and are meeting for the second time, having first faced off in one of Donaldson’s debut pro events two years ago at Queen’s Club - Isner winning in straight sets.
Johanna Konta vs. Simona Halep
First match - Evening session, Center Court
While Halep is favored in this one seeding-wise it’s Konta that owns a 3-0 head-to-head record against the No. 2 seed, including perhaps the match of the tournament at Wimbledon, which Konta won 6-4 in the third set. This is power tennis (Konta) vs. consistency (Halep), and the quick courts here in Cincinnati play in favor to the big-hitting Briton to come through into the semifinals.