Normally, in the days leading up to the US Open, it's pretty clear how the season of almost every player in the field is looking, with three Grand Slams and seven months of competition in the books.

Now, as we head into what maybe the most unusual and unpredictable US Open ever, the Western & Southern Open—normally played in Cincinnati, but this week in New York—provides not only the long-awaited return to big-tournament tennis, but also a glimpse into whose game is championship-ready after the several-month layover.

Here are a few players to keep tabs on during this week's Masters 1000/Premier 5 event:


Sofia Kenin

Kenin went from promising tournament winner to Slam champion at this year's Australian Open, but she wasn't done there. Shortly before the shutdown, she scored another title this season, winning the International-level event in Lyon, France. Consider her three additional WTA singles crowns in 2019 (plus one final and two doubles titles), and it's clear that Kenin is beyond ready to carry the mantle of being a leading American star.

The obvious next major test, though, is her home Slam, where she's made the third round three years in a row, but never further. This coming tournament presents a chance for Kenin to build on her Cincinnati semifinal result from last year, as well as get some wins in in preparation for what will be a highly anticipated US Open campaign.



Felix Auger-Aliassime

With five runner-up finishes, Auger-Aliassime is still searching for his ATP-tournament victory. But as the youngest player in the ATP Top 20, he hasn't raised any doubts about his potential.

Back-to-back hard-court finals this February, in Rotterdam and Marseille, have helped him become the youngest member of the Race to London Top 10. In the absence of Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and the on-fire Gael Monfils, Auger-Aliassime can easily be considered one of the preeminent challengers for this Masters title, even if he hasn't been in the winner's circle before.


Elena Rybakina

The 21-year-old from Kazakhstan has shown almost unparalleled consistency this season, making the final of four of the six tournament's she's played, and winning it all at the Hobart International. If she's able to maintain that kind of momentum during the restart, tennis could have yet another new star on its hands.


The Western & Southern Open gets started on Saturday, at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.