By JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI - Basking in the morning sunshine, many ATP World Tour and WTA players took full advantage of the nice weather to hone their tennis games during practice Saturday at Cincinnati's Western and Southern Open tennis tournament.
Fans flocked to side-by-side courts 15 and 16 – boasting some of the best access to get up-close to the players – to watch Jelena Janković with Caroline Wozniacki and Fabio Fognini with Andy Roddick.
Former No. 1 JJ smacked her returns deep into the corners as current No. 1 Caro served.
The crowd regularly applauded shots by American star A-Rod, while his Italian partner berated himself in his native language.
Not posted on the official practice schedule, lucky fans found Juan Mónaco and Rafael Nadal on court 14, perhaps the least accommodating court for fan access since it shares a side with another court and has a chain-link fence on the other.
But it was impossible to ignore Rafa’s presence. The Spaniard’s deep grunts could be heard throughout the area and drew glances from Melanie Oudin on adjoining court 13.
Rafa was visibly annoyed by his ball striking. Fans, however, were elated with every spinning shot from the 10-time Slam winner and Pico’s own skill was showcased during a very competitive practice set between the pair.
But there is much more, of course, than just practicing taking place during the first official day of the nine-day tournament.
Other courts were filled with players competing in the first round of the qualifying draw. Among the early results:
Édouard Roger-Vasselin d Pablo Andújar: 6-3, 5-7, 6-0;
Steve Johnson d Jérémy Chardy: 7-6 (9), 6-4;
Thomas Schoorel d Jarkko Nieminen: 6-4, 4-6, 7-5;
Marsel İlhan d Somdev Devvarman: 6-4, 7-6 (3);
Adrian Mannarino d Rogério Dutra da Silva: 6-4, 4-6, 6-4;
Alex Bogomolov Jr. d Donald Young: 6-0, 6-4;
Flavio Cipolla d Ryan Sweeting: 0-6, 6-2, 6-2;
María José Martínez Sánchez d Laura Robson: 6-2, 6-4;
Petra Martić d Carla Suárez Navarro: 6-2, 6-1;
Jill Craybas d Tamarine Tanasugarn: 6-3, 1-6, 6-4;
Bojana Jovanovski d Anna Tatishvili: 6-3, 3-6, 6-2;
Alexa Glatch d Mathilde Johansson: 7-5, 6-1; and
Sania Mirza d Vania King: 7-6 (4), 6-2, 7-6 (5).
Additional photos from practice sessions are below. You can see all of our photos from the tournament on our Facebook page.
James Henry is a contributing writer for OnTheGoTennis and is currently in Cincinnati covering the tournament. To follow him on Twitter click here.