Cincinnati tennis preview, predictions and best bets: Nadal, Medvedev in battle for No. 1 ranking

Rafael Nadal and Daniil Medvedev
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Ricky Dimon

Tennis · 1 month ago

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Since graduating from Davidson (The College That Stephen Curry Built), I have been writing about sports--just about any and all you can think of!--and coaching tennis in Atlanta, Ga. Beyond the four major sports, I am an avid tennis fan and cover the ATP Tour on a daily basis. If I'm not busy writing, you can generally find me on a tennis court or traveling the world wherever a sporting event takes me.

The U.S. Open is only two weeks away. But it’s not quite time to look all the way ahead to the season’s fourth and final Grand Slam because most of the top players in the world are taking the court this coming week in Cincinnati. The Western & Southern Open is the last chance for tour members to improve their seeding in advance of the U.S. Open, which reveals its draw shortly following the conclusion of the Cincinnati festivities. So this is a huge tournament beyond just the 1,000 points it is worth (1,000 ranking points go to the winner). Novak Djokovic still can’t enter the United States as an unvaccinated foreigner, but there is a ton of intrigue because Rafael Nadal is playing for the first time since Wimbledon and this is one of the final events of Serena Williams’ career.

Let’s take look at the odds to win the Western & Southern Open title on both the men’s and women’s sides and discuss the best bets to be made.

Cincinnati odds to win

Here are the odds for the Western & Southern Open men’s and women’s singles tournaments, courtesy of DraftKings Sportsbook.


Daniil Medvedev +400
Rafael Nadal +450
Carlos Alcaraz +500
Nick Kyrgios +650
Jannik Sinner +1400
Stefanos Tsitsipas +1800
Matteo Berrettini +1800
Hubert Hurkacz +2500
Felix Auger-Aliassime +2500
Taylor Fritz +2500
Andrey Rublev +2800
Cameron Norrie +3000
Casper Ruud +3300
Alex de Minaur +4000
Pablo Carreno Busta +4500


Iga Swiatek +330
Simona Halep +700
Coco Gauff +1200
Naomi Osaka +1400
Ons Jabeur +1600
Elena Rybakina +1600
Aryna Sabalenka +1600
Karolina Pliskova +1800
Paula Badosa +2000
Amanda Anisimova +2000
Jessica Pegula +2200
Belinda Bencic +2200
Marka Sakkari +2500

3-star value play: Rafael Nadal (+450)

Nadal suffered an abdominal injury at Wimbledon (withdrew from his semifinal match against Nick Kyrgios) and then pulled out of last week’s Masters 1000 event. Of course, there is absolutely no reason to be concerned that the 36-year-old did not play in Montreal. He was never going to play back-to-back tournaments with the U.S. Open on the immediate horizon, and naturally he chose Cincinnati over Montreal since that gave him an extra week to recover and prepare. Nadal should be 100 percent and with Djokovic unable to enter, the door is open for the Spaniard to secure a second Cincinnati title (previously triumphed in 2013). He is in an easier bottom half of the draw away from Kyrgios and Daniil Medvedev. It should also be noted that Nadal could be extra motivated because he will return the No. 1 ranking if he lifts the trophy and Medvedev loses prior to the quarterfinals.

2-star value play: Daniil Medvedev (+400)

Gone are the days when Nadal, Djokovic and Roger Federer were pretty much always locks to share all of the biggest titles. Nonetheless, we are still in an era in which the top players in the world are favorites for a reason. You have to like the chances of both Medvedev and Nadal – the top two seeds – in Cincinnati. In the Russian’s case, although he isn’t completely on fire he is well rested. Medvedev missed Wimbledon for obvious reasons and then lost right away in Montreal. He didn’t play a bad match but simply ran into the Kyrgios buzzsaw. The world No. 1’s three most recent Cincinnati results are title, quarterfinals and semis. This setting could be just what the doctor ordered for Medvedev to cement himself as the U.S. Open favorite (where he is the defending champion).

1-star value play: Taylor Fritz (+2500)

Fritz has already won one Masters 1000 tournament in the United States this season (Indian Wells in March); he is certainly capable of winning another. The 13th-ranked American made a run to the Wimbledon quarterfinals (lost to Nadal in five sets) and he has advanced at least two rounds at each of his last four events. Fritz is in a difficult section of the Cincinnati bracket, but at +2500 odds he is definitely worth at least a small bet given how well he is and his home-court advantage.

3-star value play: Aryna Sabalenka (+1600)

It is true that Sabalenka’s serve can go off the rails at times and did just that during a loss to Coco Gauff at the recent Toronto tournament, but if she can just limit the double-faults by even a small percentage there is nothing she can’t achieve. The world No. 6 is in decent enough form and is always dangerous on relatively fast hard courts that enhance her powerful game. Sabalenka was a semifinalist in Cincinnati four years ago, losing to Simona Halep. In a weaker bottom half of the draw away from Halep, Gauff and Iga Swiatek, the Belarusian should be in good shape this week.

2-star value play: Jessica Pegula (+2200)

Pegula also finds herself in the bottom half of the bracket, which is good news. That’s not to say her draw is easy; the seventh-ranked American could face Bianca Andreescu in round two and the Emma Raducanu-Serena Williams winner in the round of 16. But there are no easy draws at a tournament like this, so that is of no concern. Pegula is playing great tennis these days and she has always been at her best on hard courts. The daughter of Buffalo Bills owner has a good chance to make her favorite football team proud this week.

1-star value play: Belinda Bencic (+2200)

Bencic has reached at least the quarterfinals at four of her last five events, including this past week in Toronto. Don’t forget that the Swiss won gold in women’s singles at the Tokyo Olympics last summer, so she knows how to thrive this time of year – specifically on hard courts. Bencic is in the top half of the Cincinnati draw, but she would not have to meet Halep until the quarters and either Swiatek or Gauff until the semis. Another significant title could be in the 25-year-old’s future.

The Pickswise tennis handicappers are on hand throughout the entire tennis season, bringing you the best free expert Tennis predictions and picks from top events including the U.S. Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the Australian Open.

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