Eighteen of the Top 20 men in the world have descended upon Cincinnati for the second summer Masters of the season.
After withdrawing from Canada, Rafael Nadal is back fit for his first appearance in Ohio since 2017.
“I am happy to be back in Cincinnati after a couple of years without the chance of being able to be here. I had a small tear in the abdomen, so it is dangerous,” Nadal said. “The abdominal is a place that is dangerous because on every serve you put a lot of effort there. I am trying to do things properly, trying to be a bit more conservative. I hope I can be ready for the action here.”
Nadal, who his lone title there in 2013, also have a chance at returning to the No. 1 ranking and would do so by winning the title and current top dog Daniil Medvedev doesn’t make the quarterfinals.
“It means a lot to me to have that opportunity. Something that I didn’t expect could happen again. The main thing is to stay healthy and play the events that I want to play,” Nadal said Sunday. “I will not play more than what I believe works well for my body.
“I am going to put all my efforts into every single event I play. It is something that doesn’t matter if I have the chance to be No. 1, but I am happy to be in this position and if it happens, I will be very happy.”
Medvedev, who fell early last week in Canada to Nick Kyrgios, also won in Cincinnati in 2019. Carlos Alcaraz is seeded third followed by Stefanos Tsitsipas, Casper Ruud, 2021 finalist Andrey Rublev and Felix Auger-Aliassime.
Alexander Zverev is unable to defend his 2021 title.
Among the first round highlights are Tommy Paul – Jenson Brooksby, Denis Shapovalov – Grigor Dimitrov, Taylor Fritz – Sebastian Baez, Matteo Berrettini – Frances Tiafoe, Andy Murray – Stan Wawrinka, Holger Rune – Cameron Norrie, Nick Kyrgios – Alejandro Davidovich Fokina, and Canadian champ Pablo Carreno Busta – Miomir Kecmanovic.
Nadal could have Borna Coric, then countryman Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, Auger-Aliassime or Jannik Sinner in the quarters and Ruud or Alcaraz in the semifinals.
“Right now, I take each match as a challenge for me to stay the same as always. I am No. 4 in the world, one of the favourites to win this tournament, so it is a bit tough to handle the pressure,” Alcaraz said on Sunday.
“But I am training at my best. I am training with the objective to improve and try to produce the game I produced during the clay season and in Miami. It is a challenge for me to be the same.”
Projected QFs: 1 Medvedev – 6 Rublev, 4 Tsitsipas – 8 Hurkacz, 5 Ruud – 3 Alcaraz, 7 Auger-Aliassime – 2 Nadal.
MONDAY CINCINNATI SCHEDULE
Center Court Starts At 11:00
Elena Rybakina vs Mayar Sherif
Amanda Anisimova vs 9 Daria Kasatkina
R64 (PR) Stan Wawrinka vs Andy Murray
Not Before 7:00 Pm
12 Matteo Berrettini vs Frances Tiafoe
Not Before 8:30 PM
(WC) Sloane Stephens vs Alizé Cornet
Grand Stand Starts At 11:00 Am
Alex Molcan vs 13 Diego Schwartzman
Benjamin Bonzi vs John Isner
Not Before 3:00 PM
Jil Teichmann vs Petra Kvitova
Not Before 7:00 PM
Kaia Kanepi vs Victoria Azarenka
Denis Shapovalov vs 16 Grigor Dimitrov
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