World number one Novak Djokovic and reigning Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka will beging their Cincinnati Masters journey in the second round today in Mason.
Both Djokovic and Wawrinka suffered early exits from the Toronto Masters and this is their last chance of getting some court time on the hard courts ahead of the US Open. Djokovic will face Frenchman Gilles Simon, while Wawrinka will lock horns with Benjamin Becker of Germany.
For Djokovic, in particular, it is a very important tournament as he is bidding to complete his Career Golden Masters and Cincinnati is the only ATP 1000 title missing from his kitty. The Serbian is a four-time finalist here, but never managed to get past the final hurdle.
"That always adds more importance to this tournament for me," Djokovic said. "I do care to win this title a lot. Four times I have lost in the finals and I haven't been really close in those finals. Playing four times in the finals is a great result. Hopefully I can go a step farther this time."
The Belgrade-native leads Simon 7-1 in head-to-head encounters and is on a seven-match winning streak against the Frenchman. Simon's only victory came way back in 2008 in Marseille.
Meanwhile, Wawrinka has endured a pretty inconsistent season so far as he failed to maintain his Australian Open form in following Grand Slam events. He crashed out in the opening round at Roland Garros and made a quarterfinal exit at Wimbledon.
The Swiss didn't start the hard court season seamlessly as he was defeated by South Africa's Kevin Anderson in the third round of the Rogers Cup. Wawrinka will be hoping to get back to winning ways in the final tune-up event before the final Grand Slam of the year.
The head-to-head series between Wawrinka and Becker is tied at one-match apiece, but the Swiss won their most recent clash in Chennai earlier this season.
However, Wawrinka's form has dipped quite a lot of late and the German has a good chance of pulling off an upset. It will be an interesting contest between them, as both their previous clashes happened on hard courts.
Fresh from his Toronto Masters victory, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will also open his Cincinnati campaign today. In his first match, Tsonga will face Russian Mikhail Youzhny, whom he defeated in China two years back, although their head-to-head series is locked at three games apiece.
It is crucial for the French player to keep the winning momentum going in the last tournament before the US Open. Tsonga, however, admitted it will not be easy.
"I know what I need to do to get myself in the right shape, and hopefully I'll do it," Tsonga said. "It's easier said than done."
Schedule of Play
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Mikhail Youzhny starts 10:30 pm IST
Stanislas Wawrinka vs Benjamin Becker starts 12:30 am IST
Novak Djokovic vs Gilles Simon starts 4:30 am IST
Where to Watch Live
The day's action is scheduled for an 8:00 pm IST (10:30 am ET, 3:30 pm BST and 2:30 pm GMT) start with live coverage on Ten Sports in India. Cincinnati Masters will also be streamed live HERE and HERE or catch the live updates HERE. ESPN 2 will telecast the matches live in the United States with an online streaming option HERE. In South Africa and sub-Sahara region the tournament will be available live on Super Sport with live online viewing option HERE.