Missing top-10 tennis players set for return at Cincinnati

Cincinnati (AFP) –


Top-10 regulars will be back on court at the ATP and WTA Cincinnati Masters this week in the final big event prior to the US Open.

The men's draw will still be without the injured pair of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal and top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who continues his post-Olympic decompression before trying to complete a calendar year Grand Slam.

But others will make returns, led by Olympic champion Alexander Zverev, who missed the ATP Canada event while recovering from his gold-medal performance.

The German takes the third seeding at Cincinnati behind Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Zverev, at age 24, already owns three Masters 1000 titles along with the year-end championships in London in 2018.

But after his Olympic achievement, he is focusing on a breakthrough Grand Slam trophy, with Cincinnati the top tuneup ahead of the New York fortnight, which begins on August 30.

"I've never won a Grand Slam," Zverev said. "But I was two points from one last year in New York," when he lost to Austrian Dominic Thiem.

Italy's Matteo Berrettini last played the Wimbledon final against Djokovic well over a month ago but skipped North American preliminary events to heal an injury.

He is seeded fifth behind Russian Andrey Rublev.

Still out of competition is Thiem, who has been healing a wrist injury for nearly two months.

Medvedev is shaping up as the man to beat at the event, which plans to allow a full complement of fans in the stands at the Midwest venue.

Last year's Cincinnati event was moved to New York due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The top eight seeds receive first-round byes, with Medvedev due to face the winner from a pair of wild card entries, Americans Brandon Nakashima and Mackenzie McDonald.

The women's draw will welcome back to world's current best pair: Australian Ashleigh Barty and Naomi Osaka, taking the top two seedings respectively.

Osaka is back on court for the first time since losing in the third round of the Tokyo Olympics on July 27.

The Japanese-Haitian player, who grew up in New York, has promised to dedicate her Cincinnati tournament winnings to the Haitian earthquake relief effort in aid of the natural disaster that struck at the weekend.

"I'm about to play a tournament this week and I'll give all the prize money to relief efforts for Haiti," she said. "I know our ancestors' blood is strong we'll keep rising."

Barty took a pause after her first-round Olympic loss and comes to Cincinnati two years after losing here in the semi-finals to Svetlana Kuznetwova.

Montreal semi-finalist Aryna Sabalenka takes the third seeding ahead of Elina Svitolina.

Last year's Roland Garros winner, Iga Swiatek of Poland, is also back in the mix after reaching the Tokyo second round.

Men's seeds:

Daniil Medvedev (RUS x1)

Stefanos Tsitsipas (GRE x2)

Alexander Zverev (GER x3)

Alexander Rublev (RUS x4)

Matteo Berrettini (ITA x5)

Denis Shapovalov (CAN x6)

Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP x7)

Casper Ruud (NOR x8)

Hubert Hurkacz (POL x9)

Diego Schwartzman (ARG x10)

Jannik Sinner (ITA x11)

Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN x12)

Roberto Bautista Agut (ESP x13)

Alex de Minaur (AUS x14)

David Goffin (BEL x15)

Cristian Garin (CHI x16)

Women's seeds:

Ashleigh Barty (AUS x1)

Naomi Osaka (JPN x2)

Aryna Sabalenka (BLR x3)

Elina Svitolina (UKR x4)

Karolina Pliskova (CZE x5)

Iga Swiatek (POL x6)

Bianca Andreescu (CAN x7)

Garbine Muguruza (ESP x8)

Barbora Krejcikova (CZE x9)

Belinda Bencic (SWI x10)

Petra Kvitova (CZE x11)

Simona Halep (ROM x12)

Jennifer Brady (USA x13)

Victoria Azarenka (BLR x14)

Elise Mertens (BEL x15)

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS x16)