10sBalls.com • TennisBalls.com

ATP Men’s Tennis Is Officially Back! Cincinnati Qualifying Begins And Main Draw Revealed

By Ricky Dimon

For any harcore tennis fan, today is like being a kid on Christmas.

Well, maybe not quite to that extent…but it’s exciting!

Men’s tennis is officially back, as the first draw ceremony since February took place at the Western & Southern Open on Thursday evening. Combined with qualifying matches going on throughout the day, festivities inside the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center bubble made the return of men’s tennis a reality.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic is obviously the top seed and he awaits either Tommy Paul or a qualifier for his first match since capturing the Dubai title on Feb. 29. The Serb is 18-0 this season, having also led Serbia to an inaugural ATP Cup triumph to go along with another victorious run at the Australian Open. Djokovic could face Felix Auger-Aliassime in the third round and 2019 Cincinnati runner-up David Goffin in the quarterfinals.

Also in the top half is defending champion Daniil Medvedev, whose 2019 summer hot streak not only featured his first Masters 1000 title but also runner-up performances at the Rogers Cup and the U.S. Open. The fifth-ranked Russian’s section also includes Karen Khachanov and Roberto Bautista Agut.

Dominic Thiem, who played more exhibition matches than anyone throughout the five-month coronavirus hiatus, headlines the bottom half of the bracket as the No. 2 seed. It is the opposite side of the third-ranked Austrian’s quarter, however, that is especially intriguing. That eighth of the draw is home to Alexander Zverev, Andrey Rublev, Andy Murray, and Frances Tiafoe. Murray and Tiafoe are going head-to-head in round one, with the winner to meet Zverev in the last 32.

Stefanos Tsitsipas’ section is not quite as loaded, but the Greek could have a tough time of things against former Cincinnati runner-up John Isner in the third round. If there is one thing you can count on having not gone anywhere in five months away from the game, it is Isner’s serve. Fellow big servers Kevin Anderson and Reilly Opelka are unseeded threats who could do some damage in the Tsitsipas-Isner quarter.

In qualifying action on Thursday, among the winners were Ricardas Berankis, Aljaz Bedene, Marton Fucsovics, Jordan Thompson, Soonwoo Kwon, J.J. Wolf, Jaume Munar, Mackenzie McDonald, Thiago Monteiro, and Emil Ruusuvuori.

Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.