Is a #CincyTennis three-peat in Serena's future? Only one way to find out.— W&S Open (@CincyTennis) August 13, 2016
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Two-time defending champion Serena Williams has accepted a wild card into the main draw of the Western & Southern Open, and will face either Christina McHale or--of all people--Elina Svitolina in the second round. Williams is also the top seed. The top qualifying seed is Misaki Doi, replacing Laura Siegemund.
Jelena Jankovic had to withdraw from Cincinnati because of a shoulder injury.
The other wild cards are McHale and Louisa Chirico. Cirico's first round opponent is Monica Puig, who will play in the Olympic gold medal match tomorrow against Angelique Kerber.
If Williams, who has been dealing with a shoulder injury, reaches the quarterfinals in Cincinnati, she will keep her number 1 ranking. If she loses before the quarterfinals and Kerber wins the tournament, Kerber will be the new world number 1.
Should McHale lose her opening match, that would leave Svitolina--the player who took Williams out of the Olympics--to face the world number 1 again, which would be an interesting twist. Should Williams win her second round match, she could then play Karolina Pliskova. Or Jelena Ostapenko. Or maybe even Anna Karolina Schmiedlova, who came back to life at the Olympic Games. Coming up next would be Timea Bacsinszky, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Lesia Tsurenko, or a qualifier.
"A qualifier" really means something here, too. The qualifying draw contains the likes of Eugenie Bouchard, the increasingly dangerous Timea Babos, Daria Gavrilova, Alize Cornet, Kirsten Flipkens, Monica Niculescu, and Camila Giorgi. That's quite a tournament in itself.