The 2017 Western and Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, just outside of Cincinnati, knew that Serena Williams would not compete in this year’s event. However, it has just been learned that Victoria Azarenka, who was supposed to compete in the tournament, has pulled out due to a custody battle over her newborn child. That’s a devastating setback both for Azarenka and for the tournament, which was expecting more star power to compensate for the absence of Williams. Nevertheless, even with that sad event in mind, the field is still a loaded one for a tournament which promises all sorts of unpredictability.
The competition in the 64-player main draw begins on Monday, August 14.
Event: WTA Western and Southern Open
Category: WTA Premier 5 Level
Date: August 14 – 20, 2017
Location: Lindner Family Tennis Center – Cincinnati, Ohio, United States
With a purse of just over $2.5 million, the WTA installment of the Cincinnati tournament is slightly more lucrative than Canada ($2.43 million). This is a Premier 5 level tournament, as was Canada (Toronto). The added importance of this event for everyone on tour is that anyone who did poorly in Canada needs to get either match play or rankings points or both heading into the U.S. Open. Of particular importance are the various races for U.S. Open seeds. For the top 15 players, the week before the U.S. Open will be an off week dedicated to rest. Therefore, the rankings at the end of Cincinnati will translate into the seeds for the U.S. Open, barring injuries or other unforeseen events.
Champion – 900
Runner-up – 585
Semifinal – 350
Quarterfinal – 190
Round of 16 – 105
Round of 32 – 60
Former Champions and Results (5 Years)
Year Champion Runner-up Score
2016 – Karolina Pliskova def. Angelique Kerber – 6-3, 6-1
2015 – Serena Williams def. Simona Halep – 6-3, 7-6
2014 – Serena Williams def. Ana Ivanovic – 6-4, 6-1
2013 – Victoria Azarenka def. Serena Williams – 2-6, 6-2, 7-6
2012 – Li Na def. Angelique Kerber – 1-6, 6-3, 6-1
The Toronto WTA tournament is in the quarterfinals at the time of this piece, so keep in mind that the players who make the Toronto final on Sunday will have a very, very short time to adjust and regroup for Cincinnati. The players who lose in Friday’s quarterfinals will have more time to rest for Cincinnati and should not be too physically compromised.
Among players who did not go very far in Toronto, consider these as foremost examples of players who need to make a mark in Cincinnati in order to feel that they are ready for the U.S. Open:
Jo Konta lost to Ekaterina Makarova after winning the first set. She needs to get some match play in Ohio this upcoming week. The good news for her is that she’s been fantastic on the hard courts this season. She is 19-4 on the hard surface this season.
Angelique Kerber did not find her best tennis. It seems it will still be a struggle for the German to find her best form, but she needs to at least walk away from Cincinnati with some improvements to show for it. She has had an OK season but far from being the No. 1 player in the world. She is just 17-9 on the hard courts so far this season and is coming off a sub par grass leg of the season. She was just 5-2 on the lawn courts this year.
Eugenie Bouchard looked terrible in Toronto. She needs at least three matches (meaning two wins) in Cincinnati to think she has a hope of making a decent run in New York a few weeks from now.
Agnieszka Radwanska was crushed by Caroline Wozniacki in the round of 16 in Toronto. She has to be able to find a higher gear if she is going to get something out of a generally disappointing tennis season.
The big stars of Toronto – Simona Halep, Garbine Muguruza, Karolina Pliskova, and Wozniacki – are all still in the tournament. How they do in the quarterfinals and semifinals will shape their expectations for Cincinnati.
Lindner Family Tennis Center
The Lindner Family Tennis Center has a stadium court with 11,435 seats, a No. 2 show court with 5,000 seats, a No. 3 court with 4,000, and a fourth show court with 2,000 seats, making it one of the more expansive and fan-friendly venues anywhere tennis is played.
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