The 2022 Cincinnati Open, a combined ATP and WTA event, is set to be held from August 13-21. It's the final tournament for many players in the lead-up to the US Open.
Last year, Ashleigh Barty claimed the women's title by defeating Jil Teichmann in the final. She won't be returning to defend her crown as she retired following her victory at this year's Australian Open. Alexander Zverev emerged victorious as he won against Andrey Rublev in the final on the men's side.
Most of the top players are set to compete in Cincinnati. Quite a few, however, had a rough start at the Canadian Open. Daniil Medvedev, Carlos Alcaraz and Stefanos Tsitsipas, the top three seeds there, lost in the second round. None of the top six seeds on the women's side made it past the third round either.
Tennis icons Rafael Nadal and Serena Williams will be in the spotlight, but for different reasons. While the former is returning to the tour after an injury break, the latter announced her retirement and is competing in one of the last tournaments of her career.
Amidst all this, there are a few notable absentees. Here's a look at seven players who won't be competing in the 2022 Cincinnati Open.
#7. Gael Monfils
Gael Monfils returned to the tour for the first time since May at the Canadian Open, but suffered a setback immediately. During his third-round match, the Frenchman lost the first set against Jack Draper and was leading 2-0 in the second.
Monfils then rolled his ankle and bravely attempted to continue playing. But the pain was too much, forcing him to retire from the match. He has now withdrawn from the Cincinnati Open as well.
#6. Danielle Collins
Danielle Collins' physical woes have caused her to miss yet another tournament. Since reaching the final of the Australian Open this year, she has competed in just seven tournaments. Recurring injuries have severely derailed her season.
The last few weeks have been tough for Collins. She was unable to defend her title at the Silicon Valley Classic, withdrawing from the tournament due to a neck injury. She then had to miss the Canadian Open and has now pulled out of the Cincinnati Open as well. She has also dropped out of the top 10 of the WTA rankings.
Much was expected from Collins after her performance in Melbourne, but she has been unable to gather enough momentum to fulfill her potential.
#5. Dominic Thiem
Dominic Thiem returned to the tour this year after a nine-month injury layoff. The initial few months were quite tough for him as he went on a seven-match losing streak. He scored his first win in 14 months at a Challenger event in Austria. This victory proved to be a turning point for him.
Thiem then reached the quarterfinals of the ATP events in Bastad and Kitzbuhel, while making the semifinals in Gstaad. He was set to commence his hardcourt season at the Cincinnati Open but had to withdraw due to a respiratory illness. Instead, he'll return to action at the Winston Salem Open the following week.
#4. Angelique Kerber
Angelique Kerber, who reached the semifinals of the Cincinnati Open last year, won't be in action this time. She's also a two-time runner-up at the tournament, losing the 2012 and 2016 finals to Li Na and Karolina Pliskova respectively.
Kerber hasn't competed since her third-round loss to Elise Mertens at Wimbledon last month. The German won the Strasbourg Open just before the French Open, but aside from that, her season hasn't been too good. For now, she's not scheduled to compete in any other tournament and is likely to head to the US Open without much match action under her belt.
Back in 2016, Kerber claimed her second Grand Slam title and the World No. 1 ranking by winning the US Open.
#3. Alexander Zverev
Alexander Zverev won't be returning to defend his Cincinnati Open title this year due to an ankle injury. The German twisted his ankle and took a nasty fall during his semifinal against Rafael Nadal at the French Open. He retired from that match and later underwent surgery to fix the issue. He has been on the sidelines ever since.
Zverev's recovery is going quite well and he's hopeful that he'll be able to participate in the US Open. He is already committed to playing in the Davis Cup, which will be held from September 13-18.
#2. Roger Federer
Roger Federer being sidelined isn't breaking news at this point. The Swiss ace hasn't competed for more than a year now following yet another knee surgery. But it would be quite unfair not to mention the most decorated player in the history of the tournament.
Federer has won the Cincinnati Open a record seven times. He also has the most match wins at the venue, with 47. The tennis icon will miss this year's edition of the tournament but plans to return to action at next month's Laver Cup.
#1. Novak Djokovic
21-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic is the most prolific player who won't be competing in this year's Cincinnati Open. The Serb is unvaccinated and, given the vaccine mandate in the US, he is not allowed to enter the country.
Djokovic has already missed the Canadian Open due to the same reason. He was also unable to participate in the Australian Open at the start of the year because of his stance on vaccines. He became embroiled in a huge visa scandal that ended in his eventual deportation from the country.
Djokovic is a two-time champion at the Cincinnati Open, so his absence will be sorely felt. After five runner-up finishes, he won his first title here in 2018. He then became the first and so far only player to win all the ATP Masters 1000 tournaments. The Serb clinched his second title in 2020.
Considering the current scenario, Djokovic's participation in the US Open also remains doubtful. But quite a few politicians, along with his legion of fans, are making a push to ensure his presence at the season's final Grand Slam.