Cincinnati debuts this year as a joint men’s and women’s event, and Serena Williams continues her debut as an unseeded draw steamroller after coming off a year on the sidelines due to injury.
The Western & Southern Open features 18 of the Top 20 women’s players, with seeds Caroline Wozniacki, Vera Zvonareva, Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Petra Kvitova, Francesca Schiavone, Marion Bartoli, Andrea Petkovic, Samantha Stosur, Agnieszka Radwanska, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic, and Peng Shuai.
Floaters to watch for besides Serena Williams include Lucie Safarova, Sabine Lisicki, Gisela Dulko, Maria Kirilenko, Yanina Wickmayer, and Flavia Pennetta, all of who meet seeds early on.
Serena opens against Czech Lucie Hradecka, then is looking at seeds Sam Stosur and Li Na in the next two rounds. Other openers of interest include (3) Azarenka after a bye likely facing Lisicki, (16) Peng vs. the veteran Dulko, (7) Schiavone after a bye likely facing Kirilenko, (5) Na likely starting against the red-hot Safarova, (14) Kuznetsova vs. Wickmayer, and (12) Pavlyuchenkova vs. Pennetta.
Venus Williams withdraws citing the viral infection that also kept her out of Toronto, and Kim Clijsters and Dominika Cibulkova both withdrew citing abdominal injuries.
Wildcards went to Slovenian Polona Hercog, Sharapova, and young Americans Christina McHale and Sloane Stephens.
Clijsters defeated Sharapova in last year’s three-set final.
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