Cincinnati 2022: Women's singles draw analysis, preview & prediction | Western & Southern Open

Serena Williams is a two-time Cincinnati Open champion.
Serena Williams is a two-time Cincinnati Open champion.

All the top WTA stars head to Ohio for the Cincinnati Open this week. The WTA 1000 event will take place from August 13-21.

World No. 1 Iga Swiatek leads the field with the rest of the top 10. Grand Slam champions Naomi Osaka, Elena Rybakina, Simona Halep and Petra Kvitova, among others, are also in the running.

But all eyes will be on Serena Williams. The American recently announced that she's set to retire soon, and this will be one of the last tournaments that she will compete in. Sister Venus Williams is also in the mix. Ashleigh Barty was the defending champion, but she retired at the start of the season.

With the US Open on the horizon, players will be eager to put their best foot forward in Cincinnati. Let's take a look at how the Cincinnati Open draw could shake out over the next week:

First Quarter: Iga Swiatek will aim to bounce back following an early exit in Canada

Iga Swiatek is the top seed at the Cincinnati Open.
Iga Swiatek is the top seed at the Cincinnati Open.

Seeded players: (1) Iga Swiatek, (8) Garbine Muguruza, (11) Coco Gauff and (16) Jelena Ostapenko

Expected quarterfinal: Iga Swiatek vs Garbine Muguruza

Dark horse: Beatriz Haddad Maia

Analysis: World No. 1 Iga Swiatek dominated the first half of the season, but has been less than impressive in recent weeks. Her 37-match winning streak ended in the third round of Wimbledon, losing to France's Alize Cornet. The Pole, along with the other top eight seeds, received a first-round bye.

Swiatek could meet Cornet in the second round for a chance to get back at the Frenchwoman, provided she gets past Sloane Stephens. The top seed could meet either Jelena Ostapenko or Beatriz Haddad Maia in the third round. Both have defeated her this year, with the latter at the recent Canadian Open.

Garbine Muguruza is the next highest seed this quarter. She has struggled to win consecutive matches throughout the season and could meet reigning Wimbledon champion Elena Rybakina in the second round.

Coco Gauff will start off against a qualifier and will be the favorite to reach the quarterfinals from this section. She can meet either Swiatek or anyone who upsets her in the last eight.

Quarterfinal prediction: Coco Gauff vs Beatriz Haddad Maia

Second quarter: Ons Jabeur, Paula Badosa look to fend off Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova, Simona Halep

Simona Halep is a three-time finalist at the Cincinnati Open.
Simona Halep is a three-time finalist at the Cincinnati Open.

Seeded players: (3) Paula Badosa, (5) Ons Jabeur, (12) Belinda Bencic and (15) Simona Halep

Expected quarterfinal: Paula Badosa vs Ons Jabeur

Dark horse: Veronika Kudermetova

Analysis: Paula Badosa and Ons Jabeur, the highest seeds in this section, retired from their respective second-round matches at the Canadian Open. The duo have been consistent enough this season, especially the Tunisian. But off late, neither have put their best foot forward.

Jabeur is likely to start off against Aliaksandra Sasnovich, while Badosa faces a qualifier. Their biggest test will be in the third round, when they meet Belinda Bencic and Simona Halep respectively. Both have performed well in Canada, with the Romanian still in contention to reach the final. The two-time Grand Slam champion has finished as the runner-up on three occasions at the Cincinnati Open.

Grand Slam champions Petra Kvitova and Barbora Krejcikova are also in this section, but based on their form, neither is expected to make a deep run.

Quarterfinal prediction: Simona Halep vs Belinda Bencic

Third quarter: Serena Williams and Emma Raducanu set for a hotly anticipated first-round showdown

Emma Raducanu is making her debut at the Cincinnati Open.
Emma Raducanu is making her debut at the Cincinnati Open.

Seeded players: (4) Maria Sakkari, (7) Jessica Pegula, (10) Emma Raducanu and (14) Karolina Pliskova

Expected quarterfinal: Maria Sakkari vs Jessica Pegula

Dark horse: Kaia Kanepi

Analysis: This is the most loaded quarter of the draw, with a host of big names set to face off in the first round itself. Bianca Andreescu will take on Camila Giorgi, while Venus Williams is up against Karolina Pliskova. Giant-killer Kaia Kanepi faces former World No. 1 Victoria Azarenka.

Excellent Farewell Tour material: Serena Williams vs Emma Raducanu, scheduled for Monday night in CincinnatiFirst meeting and quite likely last meeting

But the most anticipated clash is set to be between Serena Williams and Emma Raducanu. In a battle between two generations, anyone can come out on top. The Brit has struggled for the better of the season now, so the 23-time Grand Slam champion will fancy her chances of winning.

Williams could meet either Azarenka or Kanepi in the second round, followed by Jessica Pegula. Maria Sakakri could once again meet Pliskova in the third round. The Czech recently knocked her out of the Canadian Open at the same stage, and could do so yet again.

Quarterfinal prediction: Jessica Pegula vs Karolina Pliskova

Fourth quarter: Naomi Osaka aiming to get get her season back on track at the Cincinnati Open

Naomi Osaka is a former Cincinnati Open finalist.
Naomi Osaka is a former Cincinnati Open finalist.

Seeded players: (2) Anett Kontaveit, (6) Aryna Sabalenka, (9) Daria Kasatkina and (13) Leylah Fernandez

Expected quarterfinal: Anett Kontaveit vs Aryna Sabalenka

Dark horse: Shelby Rogers

Analysis: There are quite a few marquee first-round matches in this section as well. Daria Kasatkina and Amanda Anisimova, two of the most consistent players this season, will be ready for an opening round showdow in Cincinnati. Sofia Kenin will take on compatriot Shelby Rogers, who was a finalist at the Silicon Valley Classic a couple of weeks ago.

Naomi Osaka is up against Zhang Shuai. She recently retired from her first-round contest at the Canadian Open due to an injury. Should she win, she could meet Leylah Fernandez in the second round.

Main draw in Cincinnati, where Iga Swiatek, Anett Kontaveit, Paula Badosa, and Maria Sakkari are the top seeds. Round 1: Serena Williams vs. Emma Raducanu#CincyTennis

Kontaveit will commence her campaign against a qualifier, and could meet either Osaka or Fernandez in the third round. Aryna Sabalenka is likely to kick off her Cincinnati Open challenge against 2022 French Open semifinalist Martina Trevisan.

The Belarusian will need to defeat one of Anisimova, Rogers or Kasatkina in the third round to make the last eight. But based on Sabalenka's recent form, that seems unlikely.

Quarterfinal prediction: Amanda Anisimova vs Naomi Osaka

Prediction for the semifinal:

Coco Gauff vs Simona Halep

Amanda Anisimova vs Jessica Pegula

Prediction for the final: Simona Halep def. Jessica Pegula

Rafael Nadal and wife Maria Francisca Perello spotted with infant son. click here for pictures.

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Edited by Keshav Gopalan
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