From legends to newcomers, these are three first round matches to check out.
- Sofia Kenin vs. Julia Goerges
If you are currently watching the Rogers Cup, Sofia Kenin is a name you will know. She is coming off a strong semi-final run that ended 6-4, 7-6(5) at the hands of another young up-start, Bianca Andreescu. While Kenin did not end up with the “W,” she is coming into Cincinnati with wins over world #1 Ash Barty and world #7 Elina Svitolina.
On the other side of the net will be Julia Goerges, who is hoping to get some momentum on the hard courts before the US Open in a few weeks. Ranked #25 in the world, Goerges has seen her ranking drop from this time last year. The world #25 had a somewhat unfortunate past week in Toronto, losing a third round battle to Belinda Bencic 5-7, 6-3, 6-4.
Prediction: Having split the two times they have played, this should be a competitive match. If Sofia Kenin can restart mentally after such a tough loss, she will be hard to beat. With Kenin’s ability to stay in tough rallies, and even end them with drop shot winners, Goerges will need to be physically prepared for this match. If Goerges can have a solid day on serve, she might be able to break some of Kenin’s rhythm. However, Sofia Kenin will be ready to counteract Julia Goerges biggest weapon and take the match in two sets.
Kenin in two.
2. Victoria Azarenka vs. Belinda Bencic
Victoria Azarenka has had an improved 2019 and is looking to continue that improvement all the way through the US Open. While she lost this past week in the 2nd Round in Toronto against Dayana Yastremska 7-5, 7-5, she was able to beat recent Citi Open Finalist Camila Giorgi in the first round 6-2, 6-2.
Not many players have had a better year than Belinda Bencic. She sits at #7 on the race to the year-end finals in Shenzhen, bolstered by a Premier 5 victory in Dubai earlier this year. Bencic will look to find this form in Cincinnati after suffering a tough third round loss against Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4 this past week in Toronto.
Vika has had strong early round wins at many tournaments this year and will be hoping that continues in Cincinnati. Both players will be looking to get an early lead and stay aggressive throughout the match, as they both are hard-hitters. Bencic has had many stand-out performances over the past few months, and is looking for that next tournament to go all the way. If Vika can keep the unforced errors low, she could prove a tough opponent, however Belinda Bencic will ultimately prevail in three tough sets.
Bencic in three.
3. Amanda Anisimova vs. Daria Kasatkina
The 2019 Roland Garros Semi-Finalist, the 17 year-old Amanda Anisimova is a rising star in tennis. While she withdrew from the Rogers Cup this past week, she posted good results in San Jose a couple of weeks ago, ultimately losing to champion Saisai Zheng 5-7, 7-5, 6-4 in the quarter-finals. Amanda will be looking to get back to tennis business after not feeling the best the past couple of weeks.
Daria Kasatkina is not having the season she had hoped for. With a win to loss record of 7-14 this year, Kasatkina is desperate for deep run and some confidence building. She is coming off a great win in Toronto, where she took out the world #13 Angelique Kerber in the first round 0-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round. She ultimately lost to the Bianca Andreescu 5-7, 6-2, 7-5 in a tight 2nd round match. While not the result she was hoping for, Kasatkina will gain confidence from these tough matches.
The big wildcard with this match is whether Amanda Anisimova is healthy. If she is not in good form, Daria Kasatkina will have no trouble in winning the long rallies. However, if Anisimova is feeling ready to fight, this will be a highly entertaining match, as both players are hungry for a break-out tournament. While this is the two’s first meeting, Anisimova is having a better season and has had enough time to regroup from her sickness in San Jose and will take it in 3 sets.
Anisimova in 3.
Honorable Mention: Maria Sharapova vs. Alison Riske
Maria Sharapova is hungry for a break-out performance. Alison Riske on the other hand is looking to the momentum she earned during her strong grass season, having won the title in ‘s-Hertogenbosch 0-6, 7-6(3), 7-5 against Kiki Bertens. Sharapova will be looking to dictate play during this match and keep Riske in reaction mode. If she is able to keep the double-faults and errors to a minimum, Sharapova should prevail in three tough sets.
Sharapova in three.