The second-seeded Swiss could potentially square off against eighth seed and longtime rival Nadal in the quarter-finals, with a semi-final duel with third seed Andy Murray also looming large. Federer got the better of Murray en route to last year’s title, his sixth at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Cincinnati is one of six tournaments in which he has at least six titles, also including Halle (8), Wimbledon (7), Dubai (7), the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals (6) and his home event in Basel (6).
Champion in 2005, ‘07, ‘09-10, ’12 and ‘14, Federer is seeded second this year and will face either Roberto Bautista Agut or Pablo Cuevas after receiving a first-round bye. He is 3-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Bautista Agut and holds a 2-0 record against Cuevas.
Nadal, meanwhile, opens his bid for a second Cincinnati title in three years against either recent Newport champion Rajeev Ram or Frenchman Jeremy Chardy. The Spaniard is looking to build on his record 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 titles. Ninth seed Milos Raonic also looms in their quarter.
Murray is the only other player in the draw with a title at the Western & Southern Open. The two-time champion – in 2008 and ‘11 (d. Djokovic both years) – will face either 2010 runner-up Mardy Fish or Viktor Troicki in the second round, with seventh seed Marin Cilic, 12th seed Richard Gasquet and 16th seed Grigor Dimitrov also in his quarter. The Scot won his 10th Masters 1000 crown in defeating Nadal earlier this year in Madrid.
Top seed Djokovic will bid to become the first singles player to claim the Career Golden Masters, currently holding titles at eight of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments. The Serb, who won in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo and Rome this year, leads the top half of the draw and faces a stern test with a stacked quarter in his path. Fifth seed Wawrinka is a potential quarter-final opponent, with young guns David Goffin, Dominic Thiem and Borna Coric also looming. Old rivalries are renewed in the first round as Jo-Wilfried Tsonga clashes against Fernando Verdasco and Ivo Karlovic battles 10th seed Gilles Simon.
Fourth seed Kei Nishikori and sixth seed Tomas Berdych are potential semi-final opponents for Djokovic. Berdych saw his Masters 1000 quarter-final streak end at seven straight in Montreal. The Czech could duel with 2013 runner-up John Isner, while Gael Monfils, Bernard Tomic and 18-year-old Jared Donaldson are potential third round opponents of Nishikori.
Main draw action in Cincinnati gets underway on Sunday.