It's just a matter of days before the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati commences. Once again, we will have several of the world's top tennis stars competing for the Masters 1000 tournament.
There are some notable absentees, namely Novak Djokovic and last year's champion Alexander Zverev. The former cannot travel to the United States as he is not vaccinated against COVID-19 while the latter is still recovering from the ankle injury he sustained at the French Open.
Nonetheless, the likes of Rafael Nadal, Daniil Medvedev and Carlos Alcaraz will compete, among others. Last year. Zverev beat Andrey Rublev in the final and it will be interesting to see who lifts the Rookwood Cup this year.
On that note, let us take a look at five favorites to win the men's singles tournament at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.
#1. Rafael Nadal
The King of Clay will return to action in Cincinnati for the first time since Wimbledon this year. Nadal has had an impressive season so far, winning the Australian Open and the French Open in addition to titles in Melbourne and Acapulco.
He reached the semifinals of Wimbledon but was forced to withdraw due to an abdominal injury, which also forced him to withdraw from the Canadian Open as well. Despite his fitness scares at his current age, Nadal has been able to dig deep and produce some spectacular tennis this seaosn and he will be hoping to do the same in Cincinnati as well.
The 36-year-old will compete at the Western & Southern Open for the first time since 2017, when he reached the quarterfinals. If he is fit and plays as well as he has in 2022, the Spaniard could just win the Masters 1000 tournament for the first time since 2013.
#2. Daniil Medvedev
The World No. 1 suffered a disappointing second-round exit at the Canadian Open and will be keen on having a deep run in Cincinnati. The Russian won the Western & Southern Open in 2019 and stands a fair chance of winning it for a second time given his quality on hardcourt.
Medvedev won't have it easy though as his potential opponents include Maxime Cressy, Denis Shapovalov and Grigor Dimitrov in the early rounds. If the World No. 1 reaches the quarterfinals, he could face either Andrey Rublev or Nick Kyrgios. The former beat him in the semifinals of the same tournament last year while the latter just beat him in Montreal.
Nonetheless, Medvedev has the quality and the mentality to have a good run in Cincinnati and it won't be a surprise if he ends up winning the tournament.
#3. Carlos Alcaraz
The 19-year-old Spaniard has been a revelation this season and is currently ranked fourth in the ATP rankings. Alcaraz has won 12 out of 16 matches on hardcourts so far this season and was the champion of the Miami Masters.
He has produced some sensational and entertaining tennis this season that has mesmerized the spectators, and we can expect the same from him at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Alcaraz had to qualify for the main draw of the competition
#4. Casper Ruud
Fifth seed Casper Ruud is one of the best claycourt players in the world but he has produced some impressive performances on hardcourts this season as well. The Norwegian reached the final of the Miami Masters and will play in the semifinals of the Canadian Open..
Ruud's draw at the tournament could see him face ninth seed Cameron Norrie in the third round and Carlos Alcaraz in the quarterfinals. Both are tough opponents but if the Norwegian can be composed, he can reach the quarterfinals in Cincinnati.
#5. Hubert Hurkacz
Hubert Hurkacz will have high expectations in Cincinnati, especially after reaching the semifinals of the Canadian Open. The Pole has had tournaments where he exited early but has had some good runs as well.
Hurkacz reached the semifinals of the Miami Masters, won the Halle Open and helped Poland reach the semifinals of the ATP Cup. Hence, we can expect the 25-year-old to have a good run in Cincinnati.
Hurkacz's draw could see him face Matteo Berrettini in the last 16, which will be a tough match-up. However, the Pole has the quality and composure to get the better of the Italian.
Given how well he has performed in Montreal, Hurkacz is someone to look out for at the Western & Southern Open.