By JAMES HENRY
CINCINNATI – Everywhere fans look, tennis is being played or practiced across 16 courts at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
A whopping 38 first-round qualifying matches were contested – 14 for the ATP World Tour and 24 for the WTA. Of those 76 competitors, half will vie today for spots in the main draws.
That main draw action actually begins today with marquee matches between Juan Martín del Potro and Andreas Seppi, scheduled not before 2 p.m., and Marcos Baghdatis and James Blake, scheduled not before 7 p.m.
In qualifying, 2009 U.S. Open phenomenon Melanie Oudin continued to struggle. Highly touted Bernard Tomic also did not advance. But both still are young and will have more opportunities. She is just 19, and he is only 18.
Somdev Devvarman’s loss was perhaps foretold the previous night, when he tweeted: “I play first match on tomorrow at 10am and the draw and schedule get released around 10pm... anyone else think that's ridiculous?”
A record 13,204 people packed the Lindner Family Tennis Center to watch the qualifiers prove their quality. The previous record of 11,915 patrons was set during the Tuesday afternoon session of the men’s competition in 2006.
Afternoon and evening qualifying results yesterday included:
• Radek Štěpánek d Rhyne Williams: 7-6 (3), 6-1;
• Rik de Voest d Andreas Haider-Maurer: 6-3, 6-2;
• Kei Nishikori d João Souza: 6-1, 6-4;
• Mikhail Kukushkin d Tim Smyczek: 6-4, 6-2;
• Julien Benneteau d Bernard Tomic: 7-6 (4), 6-7 (3), 6-1;
• Ernests Gulbis d Alejandro Falla: 3-6, 6-1, 6-2;
• Igor Andreev d Olivier Rochus: 6-4, 6-4;
• Petra Cetkovská d Madison Brengle: 0-6, 6-3, 6-3;
• Kateryna Bondarenko d Melanie Oudin: 6-1, 6-4;
• Sorana Cîrstea d Ksenia Pervak: 6-4, 3-6, 6-3;
• Kimiko Date-Krumm d Patricia Mayr-Achleitner: 7-5, 6-2;
• Kristina Barrois d Irina Falconi: 6-1, 7-6 (6);
• Akgul Amanmuradova d Misaki Doi: 6-2, 7-6 (5);
• Anne Keothavong d Alberta Brianti: 6-2, 7-5;
• Eleni Daniilidou d Virginie Razzano: 6-2, 6-2;
• Sofia Arvidsson d Alizé Cornet: 6-1, 6-3;
• Chanelle Scheepers d Alla Kudryavtseva: 6-1, 6-0;
• Pauline Parmentier d Julia Cohen: 4-6, 6-4, 6-1;
• Anastasia Rodionova d Barbora Záhlavová Strýcová: 5-7, 6-4, 7-5;
• Monica Niculescu d Mirjana Lučić: 7-5, 6-0;
• Anastasija Sevastova d Allie Will: 6-3, 6-4;
• Olga Govortsova d Elena Baltacha: 6-4, 6-1;
• Shuai Zhang d Gréta Arn: 6-3, 6-4;
• Johanna Larsson d Varvara Lepchenko: 6-1, 6-7 (5), 6-4; and
• Jie Zheng d Coco Vandeweghe: 3-6, 6-2, 7-5.
Out on the practice courts, Caroline Wozniacki trained again – this time with Svetlana Kuznetsova. She worked out with 2009 champion Jelena Janković in the morning. Sveta asked Caro, in particular, to hit from side to side and force her to run. They also spent time practicing serves, volleys and overhead smashes.
Four-time champion Roger Federer sweated in the afternoon heat – albeit not as much as his training partner Philipp Kohlschreiber.
The man who stunned Rafael Nadal in his opening-round match at the Rogers Cup last week in Montréal garnered attention as he practiced with Viktor Troicki. “Oh, that's Ivan Dodig in the red shirt,” a young spectator told his friends. “He beat Rafa.”
Not a bad way to be recognized.
James Henry is a contributing writer for OnTheGoTennis and is currently in Cincinnati covering the tournament. To follow him on Twitter click here.