It’s been a long, long, long time since the Australian Open, but the Fab Four of tennis are finally back in a draw together. Andy Murray has taken up a wildcard for Cincinnati and will get back to singles action against Richard Gasquet.
After a sufficient period getting better from hip surgery, presumably done by Dr Robert, I can’t wait to see if the former world no.1 can move here, there and everywhere as he used to.
Now, while Novak Djokovic’s post-match celebration suggests that all you need is love, something tells me that he’d really just prefer to defend his Cincy crown. Can anyone stop the world no.1? Well, as usual, it’s probably down to Roger Federer and Rafa Nadal to carry that weight.
It’s hard to see a new winner this week at Cincy, but let’s hope that it won’t be long before there’s a Next Gen breakthrough.
The Favourite: Novak Djokovic
When you think of how dominant the world no.1 has been in Masters 1000s, it might surprise you to learn that Djokovic only has the one Cincinnati trophy.
It’s certainly not for a lack of trying. The 32-year-old made five visits to the final before notching his first win 12 months ago. In search of title no.2, Nole has a fine draw to work with.
Looking around his quarter, Djokovic will not be intimidated by fellow seeds Karen Khachanov, Fabio Fognini or John Isner. However, we could get some fun if Washington champion Nick Kyrgios can navigate his way through to the last eight.
Remember that the unpredictable Aussie leads their head-to-head 2-0.
Roberto Bautista Agut
If we are right to assume that Roger, Rafa and Novak will make it through their quarters, the third section with Thiem and Alexander Zverev is the one to watch. There are a number of interesting names in there like Felix Auger Aliassime (who I’ll get to), former US Open champ Marin Cilic and a certain Scot. However, I still like the cut of this Spaniard’s jib. I endorsed the tireless 31-year-old last week and I was happy to see him in the last eight of the Rogers Cup. RBA is in the middle of a terrific season and he certainly has the temperament to take advantage of any opening here.
For someone measuring 6’ 6”, the Russian is a pretty unassuming chap. His results though are anything but. Medvedev has the most tour wins on hard courts this season and is into the last four of Montréal after blowing through Dominic Thiem in under an hour. Now ranked no.9, this wily 23-year-old boasts a big serve and the kind of consistency that baffles club players. Medvedev has landed in the most exciting quarter here with Federer, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Stan Wawrinka for company. Do not be surprised if this winning machine posts a few more in Cincy.
Felix Auger Aliassime
Andy Roddick thinks that FAA is the most promising of the Next Gen players and he may well be right. First spoken about at pro level when he was 14, Aliassime is practically a veteran now at 19. The Canadian is at a career-high ranking of 21 and looks destined for the top 10 given his array of weapons and phenomenal athleticism. Aliassime is in that quarter of the draw with Thiem and Alexander Zverev and nobody will want to face him.