2014 Tournament Preview: Western & Southern Open

March 3, 2014 03:27 PM
Rafael Nadal captured his first Cincinnati title last year with a win over John Isner.
Victoria Azarenka poses with her trophy after defeating Serena Williams in the 2013 women's final.

Where: Cincinnati, OH
When: Aug. 10-17 (qualifying starts Aug. 9)
Defending Champions: Rafael Nadal and Victoria Azarenka (singles); Bob Bryan - Mike Bryan and Shuai Peng - Su-Wei Hsieh (doubles)
Tournament Website: www.cincytennis.com

History: The Western & Southern Open is the nation's oldest professional tennis tournament played in its original city. First held in 1899 on the site of current-day Xavier University, the tournament and now takes place at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, approximately 20 miles north of Cincinnati in Mason, Ohio. It was an ATP event for most of its history, added a WTA stop in 2004 and became a joint event in 2011.

Cincinnati’s champions’ list reads like a “Who's Who” of tennis greats, with more than 100 International Tennis Hall of Famers having played at the tournament over the years. Among the past winners are Victoria Azarenka, Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport, Maria Sharapova, Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras and Mats Wilander.

2013 Recap: Rafael Nadal captured his first Western & Southern Open title by triumphing over John Isner, 7-6, 7-6, in a final that featured no breaks of serve. The victory extended Nadal’s career-best hard-court winning streak to 15-0 and gave the Spaniard his 26th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and 59th championship overall. Bob and Mike Bryan took home their fourth Cincinnati men's doubles crown, defeating the Spanish duo of Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez, 6-4, 4-6, [10-4], in the final.

On the women's side, Victoria Azarenka claimed her first Cincinnati title by winning a 2-hour, 29-minute battle over top seed Serena Williams, 2-6, 6-2, 7-6. The victory gave the Belarussian her third career win – and second of 2013 – over the 17-time Grand Slam champion and her third tournament title of the year. In the women’s doubles final, the third-seeded duo of Shuai Peng and Su-Wei Hsieh of China rallied from a set down to defeat Anna-Lena Groenefeld of Germany and Kveta Peschke of the Czech Republic, 2-6, 6-3, [12-10].

2014 Preview: Year in and year out, the Western & Southern Open features the world’s top men’s and women’s players, who are looking to fine-tune their games in preparation for the US Open, which takes place just two weeks later in New York. Scheduled for Week 4 of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, fans should expect to see the world’s finest tennis players on court again in 2014. Last year’s participants included Novak Djokovic, Federer, David Ferrer, Murray, Nadal, Azarenka, Li Na, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sharapova, Serena Williams and many more stars from the ATP and WTA tours.

Fun Fact: Over the last 114 years, the Western & Southern Open has featured 13 different trophies, ranging from silver to crystal to pottery. The current Champions Cup is made of pottery and has been given to winners at the tournament since 2010.

– Sally Milano