CINCINNATI, OH, USA - One of the biggest events of the US hardcourt swing begins in full force on Monday. It's the Western & Southern Open from Cincinnati and Chris Oddo previews Day 1's enticing match-ups on wtatennis.com.
Monday, First Round
American CoCo Vandeweghe will try to continue the momentum she built during the grass court season when she faces Italy's Sara Errani on Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center on Monday. It won't be easy. Vandeweghe has won 12 of her last 15 WTA-level matches, but she has only played two matches since Wimbledon, winning one and losing one at Stanford. Vandeweghe will have to hit the mark early and often to avoid getting dragged into too many protracted rallies against the super-fit World No.24 from Bologna. It was Errani who won the only career meeting between the two at Wimbledon, but that was just over four years ago and the 24-year-old Vandeweghe has evolved since then, particularly after pairing with coach Craig Kardon last season. Errani reached the round of 16 at the Olympics, but she has only managed a 7-9 record against the Top 50 this season.
Pick: Errani in three
It has been a fantastic year on a personal level for former World No.1 Ana Ivanovic, marrying German footballer Bastian Schweinsteiger this July, but in order to make it a fantastic year professionally Ivanovic requires a summer resurgence on the US hard courts. After dropping a three-setter to Carla Suárez Navarro at the Olympics the Serb has now lost three straight and is barely hovering above the .500 mark for the season at 15-14. The 2014 Western & Southern Open runner-up will open up with a winnable contest against 20-year-old Croatian Donna Vekic. Long on promise, the former World No.62 has struggled to string together victories and will make her Cincinnati debut in the midst of a nine-match WTA-level losing streak.
Pick: Ivanovic in two
A pair of highly-touted 22-year-olds will clash for the first time in a WTA main draw - they met five years ago on the ITF Circuit - on Monday in Cincinnati, as Caroline Garcia and Daria Gavrilova are set to lock horns in the second match on Grandstand. Garcia has lost four of six since winning her first career grass court title at Mallorca, but she is back at the scene of her first career Top 5 win, which came last season over Petra Kvitova during a quarterfinal run here at Cincinnati. The Frenchwoman doesn't lack for talent, but consistency has been a limiting factor ever since she cracked the WTA's Top 50 a little over two years ago. The same could be said about her opponent of late. Gavrilova's breakout season came in 2015, and she's done a solid job of maintaining a Top 50 ranking this season, but she has managed only two quarterfinals in 15 events this campaign.
Pick: Gavrilova in three
By the numbers...
400 - Andrea Petkovic and Lucie Safarova have been drawn together in the first round - both could win their 400th WTA match this week.
19 - The age of Jelena Ostapenko, the youngest player in this year's draw. The Latvian will face Anna Karolina Schmiedlova on Grandstand on Monday.
0 - Spain's Garbiñe Muguruza is appearing at Cincinnati for the third time but is still searching for her first victory. She will face the winner of Vandeweghe versus Errani after a first-round bye.