Kevin Goheen reports:
Wimbledon singles champions Roger Federer and Serena Williams lead the field for this year’s Western & Southern Open announced Tuesday.
The tournament, which runs Aug. 11-19 at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, will feature the top 40 ranked men and 37 of the top 39 women in the world, according to tournament officials.
Federer ascended to the top of the men’s rankings with his victory against Andy Murray in the Wimbledon final this past Sunday, while Williams climbed from No. 6 to No. 3 in the women’s rankings by beating Agnieszka Radwanska in three sets on Saturday. It was Federer’s seventh Wimbledon singles title, equaling Pete Sampras’ record, while Williams won for her fifth title to equal the total of her sister, Venus.
Venus Williams, who has been battling the autoimmune disease Sjogren’s syndrome for the past year and is currently ranked No. 68, has received a wild card entry to the tournament.
The tournament will begin the week after the gold medal matches at the London Olympic Games are played. It is the final major tournament before the last Grand Slam event of the year, the U.S. Open.
“It’s hard not to have an exciting Wimbledon but to have the emotional finish with the finals that we had and then to have the Olympics coming up, which will have a wealth of storylines, it’s good for the sport to have the spotlight on all of the namesake players that will be here in Cincinnati,” said Western & Southern Open tournament director and chief operating officer Vince Cicero. “It’s good for the tournament and enhances all of the storylines before they arrive here.”
This will be the second year the Western & Southern Open has held both the men’s and women’s tour events in the same week. It is one of just five tournaments in the world outside of the four Grand Slams to have both tours playing at the same time.
The Lindner Family Tennis Center is also in the final phase of a three-year, $22 million renovation project to help facilitate the growth of the event.
Murray and Maria Sharapova are the tournament’s defending champions.
Novak Djokovic, who lost to Federer in the Wimbledon semifinals, is ranked No. 2 in the world, while Rafael Nadal is No. 3 and Murray is No. 4. Federer, Djokovic and Nadal have won 29 of the past 30 grand slam titles; Djokovic won this year’s Australian Open while Nadal won the French Open.
There are three American men in the field announced Tuesday: John Isner is No. 11, Mardy Fish is 13th and Andy Roddick is No. 27. Fish and Roddick were two of four Americans who reached the fourth round at Wimbledon.
“It’s going to take some great tennis to crack those top three,” said Roddick during a conference call Tuesday. “They’re three of the best we’ve ever seen, and they’re certainly playing to it right now.”
Wimbledon semifinalist Victoria Azarenka took over the women’s top ranking but has not yet entered the tournament. She is the only player ranked in the top 25 who has not committed to playing in Mason.
Radwanska is ranked No. 2 after her Wimbledon runner-up finish, while Sharapova is No. 3. Samantha Stosur, last year’s U.S. Open champion, is No. 5.
Christina McHale, at No. 28, is the only other American woman ranked in the top 40.
While American players aren’t as prevalent at the top of the rankings of both tours as they were 10-15 years ago, that hasn’t hurt the draw of fans to tournaments within the United States.
“The international flavor is a unique selling point of tennis,” said Pete Holtermann of HolterMedia, a public relations firm specializing in tennis. “It’s not like they’re unknown quantities. I think it’s cool for a city like Cincinnati to have all of these international players coming here and putting Cincinnati on the tennis calendar and tennis map.”
The tournament’s main draw, with seedings, will be determined Aug. 10.
Commitment list for singles draw (rankings as of June 25):
Agnieszka R Radwanska
Anabel Medina Garrigues
Christina M McHale
Sabine K Lisicki
Tamira S Paszek
Tsvetana K Pironkova