Half way through the Western & Southern Open, there have already been many surprises. The Western & Southern in Cincinnati serves as the closest thing to a US Open warm up tournament with many players using it as a dress rehearsal. Here are some of the early headlines from the tournament.
David Ferrer’s Resurgence
Remember when David Ferrer was one of the top ten players in the world and a legitimate contender to make it to the second week of majors? After a short stretch of poor play causing Ferrer to drop out of the top 30, it looks like he’s back. The 35 year old is into the quarterfinals after two three set matches and a 6-4 6-4 win over Pablo Carreno Busta. In Montreal Ferrer went toe to toe with Roger Federer losing in three sets. He may not be a threat to win the title this year but it is nice to see Ferrer finding his game again.
Last week in Montreal the tennis world was captivated by 18 year old Denis Shapovalov. After making it to the semifinal before losing to Alexander Zverev, the tennis world is eager to see if he can follow up his performance. Unfortunately, the tennis world will have to wait until the US Open qualifying in order to see him on the big stage again. The reason he isn’t in the Western & Southern Open is that he was already scheduled to play a challenger tournament in Canada. Watch for Shapovalov to be a story again when the US Open qualifying rounds begin.
Sock’s Disappointing Tournament
Cincinnati looked promising for Jack Sock. Roger Federer withdrew from the tournament leaving the young American as the top seed in his quarter. Primed to make a deep run and assert himself as the top player in the country, Sock promptly fell flat losing to world number 46 Yuichi Sugita in two sets. Young players frequently lose to players below their ranking and ability level as they make their way through the ATP tour. However, with Sock it seems that this happens more regularly than it does to other players. This year’s US Open represents Socks best chance yet to make a run with many top players out. It may be now or never for Sock to prove himself.
With Sock struggling, other Americans are stepping up. In fact, an American is guaranteed to be in the semifinal as John Isner takes on upstart Jared Donaldson. Donaldson took down twelfth seeded Roberto Bautista Agut in the first round and cruised to the quarterfinal. Isner benefited from Frances Tiafoe upsetting Alexander Zverev in the second round. Keep an eye on Donaldson in this match up as he has a bright future ahead of him on the tour.
After his second Masters 1000 title of the year in which he defeated Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev had a huge let down against fellow next gen player Frances Tiafoe. Tiafoe is ranked 87th in the world and has a lot of natural athleticism. Even so, given how well Zverev has been playing recently, this is as big of an upset as any in the tournament thus far. Look for Zverev to get back on track and be a real contender for his first major title.
With the quarterfinals all set, the final rounds of the Western & Southern Open promise to be exciting. It serves as a great lead in to the US Open which will be equally wide open.