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Aug 13, 2019, 6:23:00 AM

Key Cincinnati Open questions this week

The US Open starts in less than two weeks, with the sports betting favourites looking to get some final match practice in on the hard courts. However, there are still plenty of outstanding questions, and hopefully we can get some answers during the Cincinnati Open, with many big names featuring.

The women’s side of the game carries the most interest – simply because the men’s debate is about which of the top three will win it, as it has been for most of the last decade.

What should Serena Williams do?

After pulling out of the Rogers Cup final four games in last Sunday, Serena faces a tough decision. She was criticised in some parts for not playing in enough warm-up tournaments before Wimbledon, when her impressive run to the final was stopped by Simona Halep in emphatic fashion.

With injuries yet again taking their toll, it is hard to see how she can get around her problem. The question is, does she play here, and how well can she do? She is due back on court on Tuesday, but she faces a race against time to get fit for the US Open.

She is tenth seed, which means that she will face Naomi Osaka again, and then Simona Halep, if she is to make it that far. How this week goes is a good indication of Serena’s level for the Grand Slam.

Can Novak Djokovic be stopped?

Who can really stop Djokovic when he plays like this? The world number one has been carrying on like someone who knows that he can overtake all of Roger Federer’s records, and he seems determined to go out as the greatest.

He came into Wimbledon 2018 in relatively poor form, and now has a 64-9 record since. He won the Cincinnati Open for the first time last year too, having lost three times to Federer and twice to Andy Murray in the past.

With the likes of Sam Querrey and John Isner in his draw early on, Djokovic could look like champion-elect if he comes through this unscathed.

What about the Next Gens?

These last few weeks have seen Daniil Medvedev and Karen Khachanov announce themselves at number eight and nine in the work rankings respectively, meaning that we have two new players alongside Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas in the top ten. Who will come top out of these, and can any of them challenge the established order? How they fare this week will give us a clue.

Words: Josh Dixon

Images: PA