From Rio to Ohio the tours go. If that sounds like a comedown, well, pretty much anything would be after the Olympics. The Games had it all, except for one thing: ranking points. They should be reinstated in Tokyo in 2020; the sport shouldn’t be in the business of punishing its players for wanting to play for their countries. For now, the rule seems to have helped the men’s draw in Cincy; it still includes three semifinalists from Rio: Andy Murray, Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal.
Here’s a look at how long they, and the rest of the field, may last in the final major tune-up for the U.S. Open. (For the full draw, click here.)
From carrying the flag to winning gold again for his country, Murray had, as he said, a “fantastic 10 days” in Rio. But after two three-setters and a four-hour final, he also had a tiring one. Will having Monday and Tuesday off be enough to rejuvenate him? Will he even want to be rejuvenated? Murray’s draw until the quarters should make him feel better. The top seed starts against either Juan Monaco or Ivo Karlovic, and he’s 11-2 combined against them for his career. The first seed Murray could face is Richard Gasquet. And the man he’s scheduled to play in the quarters, Nishikori, will be just as gassed as he is.
First-round intergenerational match to watch: 18-year-old Taylor Fritz vs. 34-year-old Mikhail Youzhny
Four prominent players in this section, Milos Raonic, Dominic Thiem, John Isner and Alexandr Zverev, were among the missing in Rio. Can they take advantage of those who were there?
Isner, who is unseeded after dropping out of the Top 20, will start against Fabio Fognini, who played in all three events in Rio. If he wins that, though, the American runs straight into Raonic in a battle of the big servers.
Thiem will start against either John Millman or Malek Jaziri, and could play Rio quarterfinalist Gael Monfils after that.
And as for Zverev, he begins against Yuichi Sugita, and would play Roberto Bautista Agut, who had a good run in Rio, in the second round.
First-round match to watch: Isner vs. Fognini