There may have been stars missing when the draws came out and a few names of note have already exited 'Cincinnati in New York', but it would be difficult for anyone to deny that Monday's order of play at the Western & Southern Open is stacked.
10:30 p.m. ET—Madison Keys loses her title defense opener. Ons Jabeur, one of the in-form players over the first two months of 2020, rolls to a 6-4, 6-1 win.
All seeded players are now out of the pre-tournament Kenin-Keys projected quarter. A huge opportunity for all four left, including 2013 winner Victoria Azarenka.
9:10 p.m. ET—World No. 1 Novak Djokovic remains undefeated in 2020, winning his first ATP match since triumphing in Dubai and contracting COVID-19 during July's Adria Tour. It wasn't easy for Serbian, who had to come back from a break down in each set to meet the challenge presented by Ricardas Berankis. After advancing, 7-6 (2), 6-4, Djokovic proceeded with his customary post-match celebration for his fans watching around the world on their screens.
8:17 p.m. ET—In a shocker, No. 2 seed Dominic Thiem loses his opening-round match in 1:01 to Filip Krajinovic, 6-2, 6-1. Thiem has played seemingly every week he could in various exhibitions during the tour's pause, and he looked good doing it. He's clearly comfortable at Flushing Meadows, having reached the 2018 US Open quarterfinals. None of that mattered Monday against Krajinovic, who took apart one of the presumptive tournament favorites.
It's worth noting that Krajinovic is the only player to have beaten Novak Djokovic this year, having done so in the ill-fated Adria Tour.
7:00 p.m. ET—We may not be in Mason, Ohio but the Murraycoaster is back in business, as Andy Murray grits out a 6-3, 3-6, 7-5 win against world No. 7 Alexander Zverev. From 4-1 up in the third, Murray lost four straight games, saw Zverev serve for the match, before being helped by his opponent's serving yips. Zverev, who hit three double faults to drop serve in that 10th game of the deciding set and added two more in the 12th, is now 0-6 at the Western & Southern Open. For Murray, he finished with a forehand passing winner and backhand return winner to pick up his first Top 10 win since the 2017 French Open quarterfinals (d. Kei Nishikori) and more significantly, first over a Top-10 foe post-right hip resurfacing.
Dayana Yastremka, coached by Naomi Osaka's former charge Sascha Baijin, will meet the Japanese star in the third round after battling past Bernarda Pera, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-3. Victoria Azarenka avoided going three in wrapping up a 6-2, 7-6 (8) victory over Caroline Garcia.
ATP world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and last year's women's champion Madison Keys are still to follow.
6:42 p.m. ET—Former world No. 1 Naomi Osaka completes a 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2 turnaround over Karolina Muchova to win her first match back. The final set was closer than the score might indicate: 29 points to Osaka, 24 to Muchova.
Azarenka couldn't serve out her match with Garcia and finds herself in a second tie tiebreaker with the Frenchwoman.
For more on this match, read Joel Drucker's review—and watch a post-match interview with Osaka—here.
6:03 p.m. ET—Osaka and Zverev bounce back in their second sets, and we're going the distance on Grandstand and Court 17. Osaka was nearly untouchable on serve. Yet to see much emotion out of Zverev, with Murray providing the majority of the volume on court.
Victoria Azarenka is up 6-2, 2-2 on Caroline Garcia.
5:16 p.m. ET—Two-time Cincinnati winner Andy Murray wins the first set, 6-3, over Alexander Zverev. Both players looked to target the other's forehand, with Murray executing a notch above. Each will want to raise their first-serve percentage after hitting under 55 percent, and it will be interesting to see if Zverev continues to test Murray's agility, or decides to take a more aggressive return position against the Brit's second serve.
WTA No. 4 seed Naomi Osaka is down a set on Court 17. It took just over an hour for Karolina Muchova to edge ahead, 7-6 (5).
4:44 p.m. ET—The Night Train is out of commission for the rest of the week. Jan-Lennard Struff posts his fourth successive win over Denis Shapovalov, 7-6 (4), 3-6, 6-4, to set a third-round showdown with No. 7 seed David Goffin.
Lexington runner-up Jil Teichmann fell to No. 12 seed Anett Kontaveit, 6-3, 6-4.
4:07 p.m. ET—A big exhale (shoop, shoop) for Serena Williams, who squeaks past Arantxa Rus, 7-6 (6), 3-6, 7-6 (0). Serena was two points away from getting through at 5-2 in the third, and after getting broken at love when she served for it in the following game, was once again within striking distance at deuce in the 10th game. Rus went on a four-game stretch and was two points away from pulling out an improbable comeback, 7-5, before a double fault on her third deuce proved to be the turning point—and Serena ran away with the final nine points.
"It was a real physical match out there," Serena told Andrew Krasny afterwards. "I really thought I played pretty well. I was being aggressive, hitting some good shots. She just kept fighting. I don't know, honestly."
Naomi Osaka is underway with Karolina Muchova. Andy Murray and Alexander Zverev will take Grandstand shortly.
Reilly Opelka defeats Diego Schwartzman, 6-3, 7-6 (4), while his fellow 6' '11'' countryman John Isner prevailed, 4-6, 7-6 (3), 7-6 (5), against John Millman.
2:49 p.m. ET—From an immediate break down, left-hander Arantxa Rus rebounded, 6-3, to force a third set against Serena Williams. The American will now look to avoid joining an ongoing trend, with five of the WTA's Top 10 seeds already out of the tournament, and three yet to take the court.
Karen Khachanov, one of three Russians ranked inside the Top 20 on the ATP tour, eased past Pablo Carreno Busta, 7-6 (8), 6-1, in his second-round match. For Khachanov, the change of pace at the Western & Southern Open is more than a different venue. Last year, he was on the other side of the net when Nick Kyrgios went off against chair umpire Fergus Murphy and later smashed two racquets inside the player tunnel during a bathroom break, resulting in a record $113,000 fine. Khachanov won in three sets before falling to Lucas Pouille.
2:09 p.m. ET—Wild card Tennys Sandgren outlasts No. 15 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5), in two hours and 50 minutes. Auger-Aliassime served for match at 5-4 in the decider, but finished with 15 double faults—his last coming with a 5-4 mini break in the decisive tiebreaker.
Meanwhile, Vera Zvonareva, who won Cincinnati in 2006 when it was a Tier III event under the WTA's old classification system, has posted three 6-1 sets in a row. Currently at No. 270, the now 35-year-old, former world No. 2 dispatches Laura Siegemund to move into the third round.
Serena squeaked out her first set breaker, needing to save a set point at 5-6 before taking it, 7-6 (6). Conditions continue to appear brutal.
1:44 p.m. ET—Marie Bouzkova hit consecutive double faults on her first two match points, and after erasing three break points, comes up with two big serves to win an all-Czech clash, 2-6, 7-5, 6-2, over No. 6 seed seed Petra Kvitova. When we caught up with Bouzkova during Lexington, she shared that her only real time away from the court during the shutdown was for the completion of her wisdom teeth surgery.
Serena has come out swinging, firing seven aces through five service games. The No. 3 seed is on serve in her first set, leading Rus, 5-4.
1:04 p.m. ET—Milos Raonic will take on the winner of Alexander Zverev and Andy Murray in the round of 16. The unseeded Canadian defeats Dan Evans, 6-3, 7-5, in the pair's first encounter. Qualifier Aljaz Bedene outserved Taylor Fritz to move forward, 7-6 (5), 7-5, and now gets Medvedev.
Marie Bouzkova and Tennys Sandgren have forced third sets against their respective foes, Petra Kvitova and Felix-Auger Aliassime.
12:42 p.m. ET—Daniil Medvedev finishes off Marcos Giron, 6-4, 6-4. The Russian, who topped David Goffin in last year's final, took 34 of 37 points on his first serve to enjoy a successful return to action. Qualifier Giron will make his debut inside the Top 100 next week as a result of his showing.
Serena Williams will take the court next for her "Cincy" opener against Arantxa Rus.
12:33 p.m. ET—Jessica Pegula backs up her win over Lexington champ Jennifer Brady with another great day at the office. The 26-year-old qualifier takes out Amanda Anisimova, 7-5, 6-2, and could get a quick shot at revenge against CiCi Bellis should her countrywoman get past No. 5 seed Aryna Sabalenka.
After seeing a 6-2 lead evaporate in her second set tiebreaker with Ekaterina Alexandrova, Christina McHale, who also came through qualifying, saves two set points to hang on, 6-1, 7-6 (8), to beat one of the WTA's fastest-rising players.
For more on Pegula, the Buffalo native whose rise up the rankings may have been overlooked, read Ed McGrogan's profile here.
12:14 p.m. ET—The first match in the books is a win for McCoco. After both lost their singles openers, Coco Gauff and Caty McNally dismissed Magda Linette and Heather Watson, 6-1, 6-3.
Johanna Konta then closed out a comprehensive 6-2, 6-0 victory over Kirsten Flipkens, winning 82 percent of her points on serve. We'd say today's effort merits a cinnamon donut, or two, Jo!
11:55 a.m. ET—Defending men's champ Medvedev takes his opening set, 6-4. After about 20 minutes, the world No. 5 gave us our first glimpse of the part of his game we've sorely missed.
His opponent, Marcos Giron, had opportunities to hold for 3-2, but Medvedev's world-class defense—and ability to cause opponents to second-guess their shot selection—enabled him to win a key 22-shot rally and break soon after. It's all the Russian would require in his first set since being bageled in his quarterfinal loss to Gilles Simon in Marseille on February 21.
Elsewhere, Petra Kvitova, Johanna Konta and Christina McHale all cruised to one-set leads, while Milos Raonic opened a 6-3 advantage on Dan Evans.
11:10 a.m. ET—Novak Djokovic's first appearance since the Adria Tour; Madison Keys and Daniil Medvedev beginning their title defenses; Serena Williams looking to avoid the women's upset bug that dominated Sunday's finish at Flushing Meadows; Alexander Zverev battling Andy Murray to begin his tournament; and Naomi Osaka's first tour-level event since the Australian Open.
There's a little something for everyone to enjoy from afar on Monday, as all the aforementioned storylines and more are in play at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.