2015 Tournament Preview: Western & Southern Open

February 23, 2015 01:50 PM

Where: Cincinnati, OH
When: Aug. 16-23 (qualifying starts Aug. 15)
Defending Champions: Roger Federer and Serena Williams (singles); Bob Bryan – Mike Bryan and Raquel Kops-Jones – Abigail Spears (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 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.

The Cincinnati champion's 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, Serena Williams, Andre Agassi, Stefan Edberg, Roger Federer, Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras and Mats Wilander.

2014 Recap: Roger Federer won a record sixth Western & Southern Open title last year, with a 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 victory over David Ferrer, in the first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final to feature two players over the age of 30. The win gave Federer his 22nd ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and his 80th tour-level title overall. In the men’s doubles final, Bob and Mike Bryan got revenge against Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock, who beat the twins a month earlier in the Wimbledon final. The Bryans defeated Pospisil-Sock, 6-3, 6-2, for their fifth Cincy title together and 99th ATP title overall. (They would collect No. 100 at the 2014 US Open.)

On the women's side, Serena Williams captured her first title in Cincinnati in her sixth appearance at the event, defeating Ana Ivanovic, 6-4, 6-1, in the final. Williams played a dominant second set, blasting 12 aces and winning 100 percent of points on her first serve. The win gave the world No. 1 her fifth title of the season and extended her 2014 record in finals to 5-0. In doubles, Americans Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears took home the crown after No. 6 seeds Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic retired in the second set, with the U.S. duo leading, 6-1, 2-0.

2015 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 2015. Last year’s participants included Tomas Berdych, Grigor Dimitrov, Novak Djokovic, Federer, Ferrer, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Stan Wawrinka, Eugenie Bouchard, Simona Halep, Angelique Kerber, Petra Kvitova, Agnieszka Radwanska, Maria Sharapova, Serena Williams, Venus Williams and many more stars from the ATP and WTA tours.

Fun Fact: In addition to showcasing some of the greatest tennis in the world, the Western & Southern Open's primary mission has been to use the tournament for good, and it has donated more than $9 million to various charities over the years in the Cincinnati community. Among the current beneficiaries are the Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, the Barrett Cancer Center and the Inner City Tennis Project. Click here for more information.

– Sally Milano