ATP Western & Southern Open, Cincinnati (Monday 13th August – Sunday 19th August 2012)

An opportunity spurned. A view Tomas Berdych must have following last week’s event in Toronto. Fresh off the back of the best part of a fortnight off following an early exit in the Olympics tournament in London, Berdych showed every bit of his rustiness with a hard-fought victory over Julien Benneteau before a timid straight sets defeat to eventual finalist Richard Gasquet, further highlighting the opportunity Berdych had in front of him. He was unable to capitalise on a weak-looking draw and consequently paid the price with a premature exit. Top seed Novak Djokovic clearly relished his return to the US hard courts by reaching the final in relatively straightforward fashion, answering every question regarding fatigue and his general condition rather emphatically.

Without respite, the tour moves back to the States from Canada to Cincinnati, Ohio where Djokovic takes his place in the draw, as well as the returning pair of Roger Federer and Andy Murray. Admittedly Murray gave it a go in Toronto but ultimately had to concede defeat before taking to the court against home favourite Milos Raonic, citing a knee problem as the reason behind his withdrawal. I found it a little peculiar that Murray took his place in the draw originally, although one suspects this may have had something to do with tour, sponsorship, or endorsement obligations. Either way, the Scot made the right decision in my mind by pulling out as a precautionary measure. If all is well however, Murray has every chance of exploiting what looks a kind enough draw section.

Having won here twice before, defending champion Murray evidently has happy memories of the event. Boasting a winning tournament record of 19-5, the third seed has to fancy his chances if reproducing the same level of form he has shown twice over the last five weeks at Wimbledon. Two wins over Novak Djokovic at this very event (in addition to his semi final win at London 2012), coupled with his crushing victory over Roger Federer on the Centre Court at SW19 earlier this month bodes well for Murray and reaching the last eight stage each and every year since 2008 demonstrates Murray’s consistency at this event if nothing else. So what are the likely hurdles for Andy to overcome? The seeded players in Murray’s quarter of the draw are Andy Roddick and Juan Martin Del Potro who he possesses notable head to head statistics against (8-3 and 5-1 respectively) which is encouraging. Needless to say, no ATP 1000 event is a mere formality and there are dangerous enough opponents lurking in the early stages of the event, namely Julien Benneteau, Los Angeles champion Sam Querrey, Halle champion and Washington finalist Tommy Haas, and Queen’s Club rebel David Nalbandian. Undoubtedly, Murray has a cracking chance this week. That said, Cincinnati is likely to prove anything but a certainty for Dunblane’s finest.

Selection: Andy Murray

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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