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Rafa Withdraws from Open; Stars advance in Cincy

August 15, 2012 | 08:31 PM

RAFA's knee... same story (not ready). End of story. His ranking points will be protected for another 5 months or so, if I recall how this works. His next event could be in Australia, where he could be seeded in the top 4.

Of course, MURRAY could pass him for #3 if he keeps exceeding his points per event through the end of the year. An Open final would go along way toward making Murray #3. The way Andy is playing, this is not at all improbable. Today he de-moralized Sam Querrey, 6-2, 6-4 (Sam had to play well to hold and was unable to break when he had a few chances in each set). Next up for Andy in Cincy will be Chardy, who beat Istomin as a follow-up to Roddick yesterday.

JOKER made lite work of Andreas Seppi after the first set, 7-6 (4), 6-2m and faces Davydenko.

Del Potro (6th seed) aborted a Tommy Haas re-run with a 7-5, 6-2 win, and plays Troicki, a 6-2, 6-0 winer over Hewitt.

Cilic finished off hopes for Jesse Levine 7-5, 7-6 (6).

Raonic def. Baghdatis, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4.

Nishikori def. Blake 2-6, 6-4, 6-4.

WILD CARD AMERICAN Men for Open

Besides James Blake: (rank 106; record in 2012: 3-9; age 32)

- Dennis Novikov (rank: 1099; 2012 US Junior Champion; age 18)

- Steve Johnson (rank: 237; record in 2012: 1-4; two time NCAA champion, '11, '12)

- Jack Sock (rank: 252; record in 2012: 1-6; age 19)

- Denis Kudla (rank: 155; record 2-5; age 19)

- Rajeev Ram (rank: 100; record in 2012: 6-4; age 28)

Thursday Match of the Day

Raonic v Berdych

Playing for the first time, these two sluggers were relegated to Court 3 (for men only) between the 3rd and 5th matches scheduled, a time when other courts may be on break between day and evening schedules. The Bryan brothers doubles will follow them, but there should be a full house already. Three men's seeds will play on #3 before Milos and Tomas:

- Del Potro v Troicki

- Cilic v Andujar

- Nishikori v Wawrinka (Stan def, Ferrer today 6-4, 6-1)

Stadium Matches:

- Fish will open on the stadium against a nemesis of sorts, Radek Stepanek. Mardy is 0-4 in their matches, all of which have been on hard courts (including once in Cincy in '07)

- SERENA will play Urszula (Minor) Radwanska

- Fed v Tomic will follow before (in the evening) Joker v Davydenko.

Grandstand

- Sloane Stephens opens against #1 seed Radwanska, which should be a pressure-less opportunity to knock off a sleepy star

- MURRAY faces the troublesome Chardy next

- Venus, who survived a 2-6 first set loss today to Chanelle Scheepers and came back in dominant fashion 6-3, 6-2, will play Sara Errani (she beat 6-3, 6-1 at the Olympics). This is a good chance for Venus to make a quarter-final, which is as far as she's gotten this year in any event. On very fast courts like these, her serve could take her past Stosur into the semis against Na Li or Aggie. Good draw, to say the least.

Court 9 (where women only play) will feature Kerber, Kvitova and Stosur in their respective 3rd round matches. Only Petra faced a threat today, from Maria Barthel, winning 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Rick

Cincy 8.15.12


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