With five past champions in action on Wednesday, it was a topsy-turvy day as three advanced and six seeds were ousted.
Novak Djokovic played his first singles match in four years in Cincinnati, but his opponent retired with a back injury after Djokovic took the first set 6-4. He may get more of a workout on Thursday when he faces Gael Monfils, who beat Alex de Minaur in three sets.
Last week, Danielle Collins took world No. 1 Iga Swiatek to three sets but Wednesday Swiatek sent a message to Collins and the rest of the women’s field with a commanding 6-1, 6-0 performance. On Thursday she’ll face up-and-coming Chinese player Qinwen Zheng, who rebounded after losing the first set to end Venus Williams’ 10th appearance in the tournament.
Americans who won advanced to the third round on Wednesday were Coco Gauff, Jessica Pegula, Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul and Mackenzie McDonald. In doubles, the all-American doubles team of Alycia Parks and Taylor Townsend advanced to face the defending champions Jelena Ostapenko and Lyudmyla Kichenok.
Qualifier Max Purcell is proving that sometimes adversity can make one stronger. He was literally stranded at the Canadian border on his way to Cincinnati from Toronto, arrived just in time for his first qualifying match on Saturday with little sleep and no practice, won in three sets, then won again in three on Sunday to make the main draw. He won his first-round main draw match, then pulled off the biggest win of his career over world No. 7 Casper Ruud to reach the third round. To top off the day, he and Andrey Rublev won their doubles match.
Defending champions did not fare well. No. 15 seed Borna Coric fell to Hubert Hurkacz, and the No. 3 seeded doubles team of Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury lost their title defense to Argentines Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni. Donna Vekic overcame former champion Victoria Azarenka.
Other seeds who were upset on Wednesday were No. 8 Jannik Sinner, who fell to qualifier Dusan Lajovic, and 2022 finalist No. 9 Petra Kvitova. She fell to 18-year-old Czech countrywoman Linda Noskova. Wild card Stan Wawrinka continued his run with a 6-4, 6-3 win over No. 10 seed Frances Tiafoe, and No. 6 seed Holger Rune retired his match to McDonald with a back injury.
Stefanos Tsitsipas, last year’s finalist and this year’s No. 4 seed, held on for a 7-6(3), 7-6(2) win over American Ben Shelton, while No. 2 Aryna Sabalenka had to fight off American qualifier Ann Li in three sets to advance to the third round.