By Erwin Ong
CINCINNATI -- World No. 2 Victoria Azarenka headlines the day session when she faces qualifier Vania King in a second round match at the Western & Southern Open.
Americans Ryan Harrison (vs. third seed David Ferrer), John Isner (vs. Florian Mayer), and Brian Baker (vs. Dimitrov) are also scheduled to compete in the men’s draw; Varvara Lepchenko (vs. Pennetta) and Jamie Hamption (vs. Pavlyuchenkova) will compete in the women’s draw.
This tournament, a combined men’s and women’s event, is part of the Emirates U.S. Open Series, a five-week summer tennis season that links nine North American hard court events to the final major of the year, the U.S. Open.
Other notable matches include Tommy Haas, seeded 11th, playing against Kevin Anderson and Wimbledon semifinalist Kirsten Flipkens playing against Russian Elena Vesnina. In doubles, the wildcard team of James Blake and Steve Johnson go up against Croat Ivan Dodig and Brazil’s Marcelo Melo.
The evening session will showcase the first hard court appearances for Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova in their preparation for the U.S. Open, the final Grand Slam of the year, to be played later this month in New York City.
Sharapova, who has been seen on practice courts being coached by Jimmy Connors, faces 2013 Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens. Roger Federer, the fifth seed, plays Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany. Sabine Lisicki, another German, will play 14th seed Jelena Jankovic in a night match. Lisicki reached the finals of this year’s Wimbledon, losing to Marion Bartoli.
Milos Raonic, fresh from making it to the finals at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, will face American wild card Jack Sock in the second round. Raonic cracked the Top 10 for the first time, and is the first Canadian to do so in the history of the ATP rankings, which date back to 1973.