By Erwin Ong
CINCINNATI -- The weather has been unseasonably cold and dry in Cincinnati for the 2013 Western & Southern Open, and Wednesday’s conditions were no different: blue skies and mercury below 80 is not what players have come to expect when they make the pit stop here at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on their way to the U.S. Open.
All matches have been played as scheduled – nary a rain delay in sight, to tournament schedulers’ relief – and the heat has not been an issue for the pros.
Andy Murray opened the day session on Center Court, beating Mikhail Youzhny of Russia 6-2, 6-3. "I've been coming here, I mean, maybe eight years, and not once has it ever been like this," Murray said about the mild conditions. "So [it’s] very, very strange to play here when it's like that." Murray will play France’s Julien Benneteau for a place in the quarterfinals.
For John Isner, who won his match against Richard Gasquet, this weather is a welcome change. "I absolutely love this weather. When it's really hot and really humid, that's when I struggle." Isner will next play Milos Raonic, who survived a second-set tiebreak to beat Janko Tipsarevic 6-4, 7-6(4).
But, as Novak Djokovic puts it, the weather – regardless of the mercury reading – is just a part of a larger list of elements to consider. "[At] the end of the day, it’s the same for everybody" – the players adapt their games to how the weather affects the balls, the courts, their bodies – and whomever has that upper hand gets the win.
11th seed Tommy Haas advanced into the Round of 16 with a win over Spain’s Marcel Granollers. "I’ve played a lot of tennis the last 4 months," shared Haas, content about his game and the absence of shoulder issues. "I’m trying to really gear up and peak for the U.S. Open."
Juan Martin del Potro beat Nikolay Davydenko 7-5, 7-5 in a packed Court 3. He spoke to the press after his match, hoping to use his performance here to prepare for the U.S. Open.
Through play in the afternoon, the only one of 10 former Grand Slam Champions who lost their match was Venus Williams, who fell to Russia’s Elena Vesnina 6-2, 7-5, 6-2. Former French Open champion Samantha Stosur won her match against Jamie Hampton 6-3, 7-6(3), advancing to play either reigning Wimbledon champ Marion Bartoli or Simona Halep.
Vasek Pospisil, who made an impressive run into the semifinals of the Rogers Cup in Montreal, went down to qualifier David Goffin in three sets. Pospisil was awarded a "Special Exemption" into this year’s Western & Southern Open because of his performance at the Rogers Cup.
Tonight’s action will include Rafael Nadal facing qualifier Benjamin Becker, Li Na playing against wild card Lauren Davis, and the match between Bartoli and Halep.