Western and Southern Open returns to Cincinnati with fans

Despite losing some big-name stars, the main draw got underway, with the tournament returning to the Lindner Family Tennis Center after a one-year absence, and at full capacity.

Benoit Paire was one of the players on court on the first day and he won his contest against Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.   -  AFP

Despite losing some big-name stars, the main draw of the Western and Southern Open got underway, with the tournament returning to the Lindner Family Tennis Center after a one-year absence, and at full capacity.

“We are thrilled this world class tennis event is back in Cincinnati,” tournament chief operating officer Katie Haas said.

“We value the opportunity to be the first combined event to welcome back fans at full capacity." The U.S. Open tune-up event was played in New York last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are a few noteworthy absences this year. Serena Williams and Sofia Kenin withdrew due to injury. Venus Williams also will not participate.

One the men's side, seven-time champion Roger Federer, last year's champion Novak Djokovic and runner-up Milos Raonic, and Rafael Nadal are out with injuries.

“It's a big opportunity for a lot of players to win this event when those guys aren't playing, especially for guys just behind them in the world rankings.” said Andy Murray, who entered the tournament as a wild card. The 34-year-old Murray won the event in 2008.

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In first-round action Sunday night on center court, Argentinia's Guido Pella upset 15th-ranked Belgian David Goffin, a 2019 Western and Southern Open finalist and 2018 semifinalist, 6-3, 6-3. Also, Frenchman Benoit Paire beat Serbian Miomir Kecmanovic, 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

Cincinnati native Cat McNally will make her third appearance in the event. The 19-year-old wild card reached the third round of the US Open last year.

“The Western and Southern has been here for a long time, and I've been coming every single year,” McNally said.

“I started playing tennis when I was 3, so I pretty much grew up coming here.” McNally also is playing doubles with 17-year-old American Coco Gauff.

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