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Sloane Stephens vs. Yulia Putintseva Cincinnati R2: Match Preview

August 13th, 2019

Sloane Stephens looks to gain some hard court wins before this years US Open in a few weeks. With virtually no points to defend in Cincinnati this year, the pressure should be off this week for Stephens. The 2017 US Open champion has yet to make a final in 2019 and lost last week in Toronto in her opening round against qualifier and eventual semi-finalist Marie Bouzková 6-2, 7-5.

Yulia Putintseva on the other hand has been having a solid season with three top 10 wins. Earlier this year in Nuremberg, Putintseva won her maiden title on clay and is currently ranked #42. She also made headlines during the grass season when she beat world #1 Naomi Osaka twice in just two weeks. She played her first match since Wimbledon this past week in Toronto and lost to Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 6-2.

The two players played in January at the Premier event in Sydney with Putintseva taking it 3-6, 7-6, 6-0. Sloane will be looking for revenge and has had a previous win over Putintseva in 2017 on hard court. In the three matches they have played previously, all have gone to three sets, so this match is guaranteed to be competitive. Sloane is eager to begin a deep campaign into a tournament and should end up taking this match in three tough sets.

Sloane Stephens in 3.

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Western and Southern Open- 3 R1 WTA Matches to Watch + Predictions

From legends to newcomers, these are three first round matches to check out.

  1. 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.

Cincinnati Round One: Madison Keys vs. Garbine Muguruza Match Preview

Scheduled on Grandstand on August 13th 2019, this matchup should be an entertaining one. While Muguruza is a two time grand slam champion and Keys is a grand slam finalist, both Keys and Murguruza have struggled this year with finding their form in the bigger tournaments.

Keys had success on clay, winning the premier event in Charleston. Since then, however, Keys has struggled to put together consecutive wins, and most recently losing her first round match last week in Montreal to Donna Vekic 3-6, 7-6(5),7-6(5). She will be looking to steady the ship after a less than ideal hardcourt season.

On the other end of the court, Murguruza hasn’t played since her first round loss at Wimbledon against world #95 Beatriz Haddad Maia. Given the great success these two have had over the past two years, they both have the talent to go all the way in Cincinnati.

I am going to have to give Keys an edge this match, as she was able to get match play last week in Canada. Who do you think will take this match-up? Comment below with your pick!

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Western and Southern Open: 3 ATP 1R Matches to Watch + Predictions

  1. Fabio Fognini vs. Denis Shapovalov

Fabio Fognini looked sharp last week in Montreal when he faced Rafa Nadal in the quarterfinals ultimately losing 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. While he can be proud of how he played in the first set, in the second set he started to lose steam, while Rafa began to settle in. Fognini will look to draw upon his successful week in Canada and continue one of his most successful seasons to date.

He will be facing Canadian upstart, Denis Shapovalov, who fell in the second round last week against world #4, Dominic Thiem, 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Perhaps feeling the pressure of the biggest tournament in his home country, Shapovalov will be looking to post a good result before the US Open in a few weeks.

This is Fognini match to lose. He seems to keep getting better with every match he plays this hard court season. Coming up just short of eventual champion Rafa Nadal last week in Montreal, he will be hoping that he can replicate the same form in Cincinnati this week. On the other side of the court, Denis Shapovalov will look to restart after a disappointing season overall and try to earn some ranking points to earn a seeding at this years US Open. While this should be an entertaining match, Fognini should prevail in two tight sets.

Fognini in two.

2. Andy Murray vs. Richard Gasquet

This match is one that many fans are looking forward too, as Andy Murray is making his singles comeback since his injury earlier this year in Australia. Murray currently sits at #325 in the current world rankings, and myself and so many others are hoping that he can get back into the top tier of tennis soon. He is hoping to get a few hard court matches in before this years US Open in a few weeks.

On the other side of the net will be another tennis veteran, Richard Gasquet, who has been on a comeback tour since Madrid earlier this year. While he has yet to make a final in 2019, he will be satisfied with his results this past week in Montreal, where he beat world #6 Kei Nishikori 6-7(6), 6-2, 7-6(4) in the second round before losing to Bautista Agut in the third round 7-5, 7-5.

While Andy Murray did have doubles success in an ATP 500 event in London earlier this year, many of us are wondering where his match fitness level is at after so many months off. Gasquet on the other hand is hoping for a win over such an accomplished player to build his confidence, as he has not had the results he would have liked post-injury. Given Murray’s long length of absence since last playing, I am hopeful that he is match ready and prepared to fight, thus giving him the edge over Gasquet. Murray will take this match in two tight sets.

Murray in two tight sets.

3. Reilly Opelka vs. Borna Coric

Reilly Opelka is having a great season compared to 2018. He took the title earlier this year in New York, which has helped his confidence and will be excited to be playing so close to home, as he grew up in nearby Michigan. He made the semi-finals in Atlanta a few weeks ago ultimately falling to eventual champion Alex De Minaur 7-6(4), 6-7(5), 6-3.

The 2014 ATP Newcomer of the Year, Borna Coric is eagerly searching for his first title of 2019. Coming off a disappointing performance in Montreal, where he lost to fellow Mannarino in the second round 6-2,6-1, he will be looking to post a big result before the US Open. Coric has nearly a thousand points to defend during the rest of the year and a big result in Cincinnati will take some pressure off for the US Open.

Opelka will be hoping that his big weapon, his serve, is ready to fight. Coric is rated #40 of all returners this season, while Opelka is averaging 21 aces a match, just behind John Isner. While this is a hard match to predict, one thing can be assured, a couple of set tiebreaks. In the end, however, Reilly Opelka will be looking to impress his hometown midwest crowd and take this in three tight sets.

Opelka in 3 close sets.

Honorable Mention: Stan Wawrinka vs. Grigor Dimitrov

Meeting for the fourth time in the last 12 months, these two are very familiar with each other’s game. Dimitrov will be looking for revenge as he lost to Wawrinka just last week in Montreal in the first round 6-4, 6-4. The former 2017 Cincinnati champion, Dimitrov, is looking for anything to grab onto, as he has seen is ranking decline this year. Wawrinka on the other hand is happy to be playing healthy again and continue to post good results that saw him make it to the quarterfinals at Roland Garros this year. In the end, Wawrinka will get another victory over Dimitrov in three competitive sets.

Wawrinka in three.