Making his first appearance since winning singles gold at the Tokyo Olympics, Alexander Zverev could face an early challenge at the Western & Southern Open following Friday’s release of the draw for the ATP Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati.

The third-seeded German, who received a bye in the first round, could meet in-form South African Lloyd Harris, who opens against a qualifier. The 24-year-old Harris upset Rafael Nadal in three pulsating sets at the Citi Open in Washington two weeks ago and is full of confidence sitting at a career-high No. 49 in the FedEx ATP Rankings.

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Zverev is 33-11 on the year, having won three titles this season, including his fourth ATP Masters 1000 crown in Madrid. And he’ll need every bit of that confidence as he returns to the Lindner Family Tennis Centre; he has never won a match in six tournament appearances, including last year, when the event was played in New York due to the pandemic. In the third round Zverev is seeded to meet 15th seed and 2019 Cincinnati finalist David Goffin and eighth seed Casper Ruud in the quarter-finals.

Top seeds Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas both may face opening-round challenges against America’s hottest young stars.

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Top-seeded Medvedev, who won the first of his three Masters 1000 titles in Cincinnati two years ago, will play the winner of 20-year-old Californian Brandon Nakashima or another American, Washington finalist Mackenzie McDonald, in his first match. Nakashima recently reached back-to-back finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta.

The Russian is seeded to meet Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round, and another Spaniard, Pablo Carreno Busta, in the quarter-finals.

At the bottom of the draw, second seed Tsitsipas, who is still alive in the Toronto semi-finals, will play the winner of 20-year-old American Sebastian Korda and Serb Laslo Djere. On the back of a breakout 22-11 season, Korda is at a career-high No. 45 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. Tsitsipas is seeded to meet Chilean 16th seed Cristian Garin in the third round and, in the quarter-finals, fifth seed Matteo Berrettini, making his return from a thigh injury that sidelined him from the Olympics.

Interesting first-round matches include Daniel Evans and 10th seed Diego Schwartzman, Grigor Dimitrov and Bautista Agut, Aslan Karatsev against 2016 Cincinnati champion Marin Cilic, John Isner against Cameron Norrie and Marton Fucsovics versus 12th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

Andy Murray, playing for the first time since Wimbledon, opens against a qualifier. Should he win, he would play the winner of ninth seed Hubert Hurkacz and Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal (foot) and Roger Federer (knee) are not playing the event. 

Main draw begins Sunday.





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