The draw for next week’s Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, which begins on Monday, was made on Friday, and, in the 2nd-round, top seed Iga Swiatek could well meet Danielle Collins in a repeat of their quarter-final encounter in Montreal, while two wild-cards, Caroline Wozniacki and Elina Svitolina are slated to play in the 1st-round.
The final stop ahead of the US Open, the last WTA 1000 of the US Open Series, sees Swiatek leading a field that, with the return of Ons Jabeur following an injury break, includes all of the Top 10.
Swiatek saw off Collins in 3 sets in Montreal on Friday, but for the two to meet again, the American must get past Russia’s Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova first as the top seed, alongside the top 8 seeds, receives a bye into round 2.
The popcorn match of the 1st-round, though, is the Svitolina-Wozniacki contest between 2 mothers returning to the WTA Tour this year.
Swiatek’s top quarter includes 7-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams from the USA, who meets No 16 seed Veronika Kudermetova from Russia in the 1st-round.
Also in this section is defending champion Caroline Garcia, the No 6 seed from France, who starts her campaign against either the 2017 US Open champion, American Sloane Stephens, or Italy’s Elisabetta Cocciaretto in the 2nd-round, and she could meet 10th-seeded Marketa Vondrousova, the Wimbledon champion from the Czech Republic, in round 3.
The No 4 seed Elena Rybakina from Kazakhstan heads up the second quarter, where she will face either Latvia’s Jelena Ostapenko or Czech Karolina Pliskova in round 2, while she could potentially meet 13th-seeded Belinda Bencic from Switzerland in the Round of 16.
Also in this quarter are American No 7 seed Coco Gauff and Czech 9th seed Petra Kvitova, who would face off in the Last 16 if the seedings hold.
Last year’s runner-up Kvitova might face Montreal semi-finalist Liudmila Samsonova from Russia in the 2nd-round, if they each win their opening matches.
The third quarter is led by No 3 seed Jessica Pegula from the USA, who just made her third straight Omnium Banque Nationale semi-final on Friday, and awaits either compatriot Bernard Pera or a qualifier first.
No 8 Maria Sakkari from Greece, Brazil’s No 12 seed Beatriz Haddad Maia, and America’s No15 Madison Keys are among the potential opponents for the top-ranked American en route to another semi-final.
The fourth quarter is anchored by World No 2 Aryna Sabalenka from Belarus, who starts against either Poland’s Magda Linette or a qualifier in the 2nd-round.
No 5 seed Ons Jabeur from Tunisia, and Czech 11th seed Barbora Krejcikova are in the bottom quarter as well, along with American Jennifer Brady, who is on the come-back trail after injuries.
This bottom quarter also contains the 1st-round encounter between Wozniacki and Svitolina, as they continue their returns to the Hologic WTA Tour after maternity leave.
Ukraine’s Svitolina, who holds a 4-1 lead in their head-to-head, with all of their matches having taken place between 2016 and 2018, returned to action in April after a year away, and has already re-entered the Top 30 after winning the Strasbourg title, reaching the Roland Garros quarter-finals and making the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Former World No 1 Wozniacki from Denmark ended her three-and-a-half-year hiatus just last week, when she made her return in Montreal where she won her come-back opener against Aussie Kimberly Birrell before losing her 2nd-round match to Vondrousova.
The winner of the Wozniacki-Svitolina match will meet either No 14 seed Daria Kasatkina from Russia or American Peyton Stearns in round 2, with Sabalenka possibly looming in the Round of 16.