Sunday, 21 August 2016

Cincinnati - Kerber and Murray looking good

Cincinnati has been the scene the past week for the WTA and ATP to assemble the best players in the world.   These are the final respective Premier and Masters tournaments prior to the US Open.

The top seeds would have been Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic but neither participated due, we suppose, to nagging injuries sustained in failed Rio campaigns.  Novak however had failed to enter, even before Rio.

Keen to make amends for her loss in the Olympic final, Angie Kerber, the number two, and highest remaining seed, faced a demanding draw, but handled it beautifully, accounting for world number 37 Kristina Mladenovic, world number 20 Barbora Strycova, 9th seed Carla Suarez Navarro, and most recently 3rd seed Simona Halep in the semi final.
Kerber lost just a single set in reaching the final, that to Suarez Navarro.

The fate of the other top seeds was varied.  Halep, as already stated, made the semis, defeating 5th seed Aga Radwanska in the quarter final in straight sets,  Roberta Vinci, 6th seed, was knocked out prior to the quarters by Suarez Navarro.

The non appearance of Serena Williams was a gift for those in the top half of the draw, and it was the 15th seed Karolina Pliskova, who took the biggest advantage.  Instead of playing Serena in the round of sixteen, the Czech Fed Cup star met and dispatched unseeded Misaki Doi before trampling over the top of 7th seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the quarters, and 4th seed Garbine Muguruza in the semis.

Full of confidence, Pliskova will be more than a handful for Kerber in an exciting final.

Andy Murray was installed as top seed in the men's draw with Djokovic's absence.  The Olympic champion is gunning for the year end number one ranking, having not lost a match since receiving the Roland Garros runner up trophy in June.
Plenty of his potential rivals in Cincinnati served to make his job easier by dropping matches in which they normally would be expected to prevail.

2nd seed Stan Wawrinka struggled in his second round match after a first round bye, requiring three sets to beat wildcard American Jared Donaldson.  Not so lucky in round three though, losing in straight sets to Grigor Dimitrov.

Joining Stan on the third round scrap heap were 3rd seed Rafa Nadal, losing badly to Croatian Borna Coric, and 5th seed Kei Nishikori, downed in two tie breakers to Bernard Tomic (who'd also beaten the Rio bronze medalist in Brisbane earlier this year)
6th seed Tomas Berdych and 7th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also failed to make the quarters, losing out to 12th seed Marin Cilic and unseeded Steve Johnson respectively.

Apart from Murray and Cilic, the only seeds to make the quarter finals were Milos Raonic (4) and Dominic Thiem (8).

Raonic dismissed Thiem, then Murray gave Raonic his marching orders, and now the final will see Andy Murray attempt to win his fourth successive tournament and improve to five wins from seven finals in his last seven starts.  Standing in his way is Marin Cilic.

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