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Cincy Sets-up as a big test for the best

Depleted men's and women's seeds on the line

August 13, 2012 | 09:48 PM

Minus some top Spaniards and Frenchmen who are not playing Cincy (Rafa, Nando, Tsonga, Monfils), the organizers are hopeful that the event will capture more attention than the barely noted Rogers Cup in Canada last week. Had Joker not played on fumes and managed to subdue the underwhelming competition (finishing with Gasquet), the men's event would have looked like a 250 event.

If JOKER was on fumes last week, what are his chances this week?

One source says he has 'personal problems' he's not talking about with anyone, even his coaches. No idea what this means or if there's any truth to it, but if there is, judging by how he played following his grandfather's death in early April at Monte Carlo, his play will suffer and speak for itself.

How about #1 seed FED?

He's coming in as a just turned 31 year old with only 4 days of hard court prep, but after a few days breathing the mountain air at his Swiss chalet, he may be the freshest man in the draw. In any event, as we saw in yesterday's post, he has little to lose. He says his first match will be an unusual challenge, but given that it will be either Bogomolov or Nieminen (with whom's he 13-0), this shouldn't present a problem. The bigger problem may be facing either Baker or Tomic the next day (Bernie edged out Ryan Harrison in today's 1st round, 6-4, 7-6 (5). The come-back kid, 27 year old Brian Baker, got his first win since Wimbledon today, beating Kohlschreiber today 7-6 (7), 7-6 (3). Brian had lost 4 in a row, all to players ranked 132 or greater, including two different men ranked 132 in July.

How will we find the new poster/stamp boy MURRAY ?

Good question. After he withdrew last week the only moving around he did was on the new golden stamp with his photo - check it out at: World Tour Weekly #28 - August 13 2012 (1)

If he recuperated his 'tweaked' knee enough to scamper about like the Scottish Billy Goat again, he should be ready for Querrey or Melzer (who play tomorrow) who he'll meet first.

Sam has returned from injury this year faster than any other player but Haas, coming up from 93 to 29. Tommy's story - coming up from 205 to 23 at age 34 - is the most remarkable of the year. He plays Nalbandian for the 2nd time this summer, after beating him the first, for a crack at Del Potro. For perspective on Tommy's remarkable achievements this year - a 26-11 record that places him in the company of Agassi, the only Open era player to excel more at age 34 - read Jeff Sackmann's post today:

Haas has beaten 6 players in the top 20 in the last 2 months, including FED and Berdych.

Roddick, the 16th seed who has turned himself around this summer after dropping 21 ranking spots in less than 3 months (he's back to #21 from 34, after starting 2012 at 14) will open with another aging threat, Jeremy Chardy.

The winner of Fish v Lopez also has a good chance to reach the quarters with Fed. The two men have fallen further in the rankings this year than any other men who started in the top 20 (Fish started at 8 and is now #20; 30 year old Lopez began at 20 and is now 31). Mardy has won 4 of their last 5, and would like to do well enough here to stop his ranking free fall before The Open, which he can only accomplish by reaching the semis. A tall order, needless to say.

Other AMERICANS left in the draw include Jesse Levine, a 6-4, 7-6 (2) winner over Donald Young, and 32 year old James Blake, a 7-5, 6-4 winner over Kevin Anderson. James has a 3-9 record this year, and is poised to break into the top 100 after his win today.

Raonic, who started the year at 31 and is now 19, will get a crack at a slumping Berdych if he can win 2 rounds, beating Frenchmen (Gasquet, then Simon). Expect Gasquet to poop out after his final showing in Toronto. Raonic is 1-0 with Simon. Berdych has won 2 matches since Paris, losing to Gasquet, Gulbis, Darcis and Haas. Tommy can be his first match here...

MONTREAL Final: Petra Kvitova def. Na Li, 7-5, 2-6, 6-3 to win her first title of the year.

CINCY Women's Field:

Without Vika, Aggie is the #1 seed in name, while Serena is back to upset the rankings again in the other half with Kvitova, Wozniacki and Kerber.

Other AMERICANS still in the draw include Venus, Sloane Stephens, Christina McHale, and Madison Keys. Only Venus drew a seed, #12 Maria Kirilenko.

AP, WTA at Cincinnati, 8.13.12

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