Cincinnati Masters: Men's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Western & Southern Open 2020

Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem are expected to meet in another final
Novak Djokovic and Dominic Thiem are expected to meet in another final

The much-awaited return of the ATP tour is here, kicking off with the Western & Southern Open ATP Masters 1000 in Cincinnati New York. After months of speculation and doubt, the tournament which had to be relocated from Cincinnati to New York due to the COVID-19 pandemic will finally mark the restart of this year's ATP Masters 1000 series on Saturday.

Despite the withdrawals of seven-time champion Roger Federer and World No. 2 Rafael Nadal, the tournament still has its charm. There are plenty of big names in the draw, and the week-long event would act as the ideal curtain-raiser to the American hardcourt swing - with the US Open set to begin less than 48 hours of its final.

Of course, the health and stamina of players recovering from COVID-19 - Novak Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric - would be under the scanner too. But the tennis on show will likely take precedence over everything once the matches begin.

As World No. 1, Novak Djokovic will look to stamp his authority on the field straight away and announce his intentions of winning an 18th Major at the US Open. Meanwhile Austria's Dominic Thiem would be on the hunt for a statement win to boost his chances of a maiden Slam title two weeks later.

Returning from yet another prolonged injury break, superstar Andy Murray will be another attraction during the week. Alexander Zverev, Matteo Berrettini, David Goffin, defending champion Daniil Medvedev and No. 4 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas are some of the other stars making their return to competitive tennis at the Western & Southern Open.

On that note, here is a look at the prospects of the big names in the men's singles draw.

Top half: Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev lead the way

Novak Djokovic will headline the draw at New York
Novak Djokovic will headline the draw at New York

Seeds with opening round byes: [1] Novak Djokovic, [3] Daniil Medvedev. [7] David Goffin, [8] Roberto Bautista Agut

Expected semifinal: Novak Djokovic vs Daniil Medvedev

Player to watch out for: Denis Shapovalov

Analysis: At first glance it might seem like Novak Djokovic is in the less crowded section of the draw, with only Daniil Medvedev standing between him and the final. But the top half gets a lot trickier as you dive into it.

Novak Djokovic is on a quest to become the first man to win all Masters 1000 events on the tour at least twice each, and has a potential Round of 16 clash against Canada's Felix Auger-Aliassime. The recently turned 20-year-old would be eager to rekindle the promise he had shown in early 2019 before his form tumbled in the later part of the year.

Djokovic could face another young talent from Canada in the quarterfinals if 12th seed Denis Shapovalov manages to overcome the challenges posed by veterans Marin Cilic and David Goffin. Last year's finalist Goffin faces an uphill task if he wants to repeat his 2019 result as faces either the solid Borna Coric or the mercurial showman Benoit Paire in his first match.

Even if all goes well for Goffin, he would likely face the nearly invincible Novak Djokovic for a place in the final four.

With as many as five qualifiers, the other quarter of the top half of the draw looks pretty straightforward for third seed and defending champion Daniil Medvedev. The toughest test for the Russian before the semifinals would likely be against either his compatriot Karen Khachanov or Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut in the last eight of the tournament.

That said,Medvedev potentially faces the task of repeating his last year's performance in the semifinals against Novak Djokovic. It is pertinent to note that the Russian is far from the form he was in at this time last year; he ended his 2019 with four defeats on the trot, and fell in the Round of 16 at the Australian Open earlier this year.

Semifinal prediction: Novak Djokovic vs Roberto Bautista Agut

Bottom half: Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev & Stefanos Tsitsipas to fight it out

Dominic Thiem will look to make his way through a tough draw
Dominic Thiem will look to make his way through a tough draw

Seeds with opening round byes: [2] Dominic Thiem, [4] Stefanos Tsitsipas, [5] Alexander Zverev, [6] Matteo Berrettini

Expected semifinal: Stefanos Tsitsipas vs Dominic Thiem

Player to watch out for: Diego Schwartzman

Analysis: The third quarter of the draw features several big servers and potential giant-killers. The likes of John Isner, Kevin Anderson, Reilly Opelka, Hubert Hurkacz and Kyle Edmund would look to upstage the bigger names in Stefanos Tsitsipas, Matteo Berrettini and Diego Schwartzman.

The quarter looks evenly poised, with no clear favorite for the semifinal berth. The potential Round of 16 face-off between Berrettini and Schwartzman could be an early candidate for the 'Match of the tournament', with the Italian's big serve and huge forehand pitted against the Argentine's electrifying groundstrokes and retrieving skills.

Elsewhere, top-ranked American John Isner would also look to use his giant serve to overcome the high-flying Pole Hubert Hurkacz. If he gets past that obstacle in the opening round, Isner would look to upset Greek fourth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas later in the quarterfinals.

In the final quarter of the draw, Dominic Thiem would need to be wary of potential threats in Filip Krajinovic and Grigor Dimitrov early on. If he navigates past those hurdles, he could be in for a tough quarterfinal against one of Alexander Zverev, Frances Tiafoe, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Andrey Rublev or Sam Querrey.

Thiem has had the most match practice during the six-month break from tennis. The World No. 3 was a man on a mission amid the lockdown, playing a series of exhibition events to keep in shape for the return of the tour. The Austrian would be eager to use this advantage and win his second career Masters 1000 title, launching his bid for the US Open crown in spectacular fashion.

A good amount of the fans' attention would be on former World No. 1 Andy Murray. The three-time Grand Slam champion opens his campaign as a wildcard entry against American Frances Tiafoe, before a potential meeting with Alexander Zverev in the Round of 32.

Semifinal prediction: John Isner vs Dominic Thiem

Prediction for the final

Novak Djokovic vs Dominic Thiem

Predicted champion

Dominic Thiem

How did Novak Djokovic meet Jelena Ristic? All about the most admired couples in tennis

Quick Links

Edited by Musab Abid
Be the first one to comment