The 2018 Western & Southern Open is in the books, and once again, Cincinnati’s storied tournament delivered world-class tennis and a fan experience second to none.
Western & Southern chairman, president and chief executive officer John F. Barrett pronounced this year’s edition of the Western & Southern Open “the best yet,” and the vast crowds, upgraded grounds, and premier talent on display support his claim.
Of the 16 sessions spanning nine days of play, 14 were sold out. Even on the tournament’s first Sunday, when the top players are typically scarce, traffic throughout the facility was heavier than usual. First-round action featuring a number of popular veteran players, including two-time Western & Southern Open champion Serena Williams and five-time W&S Open finalist and reigning Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic, helped fuel ticket sales for the early matches.
Not even heavy rain on Thursday – the wettest August day ever recorded in Cincinnati – dampened the enthusiasm of fans eager for a looming Sunday finals showdown between two living legends: Roger Federer, winner of 20 Grand Slams and seven W&S Open titles, and Djokovic, seeking the one Masters 1000 title that has eluded him.
After the rain postponed play Thursday evening, Federer and Djokovic each played twice on Friday. Federer defeated Leonardo Mayer, then outlasted his Swiss countryman Stan Wawrinka in a three-set thriller. For his part, Djokovic needed three sets to get by both defending W&S Open champion Grigor Dimitrov and Milos Raonic for a chance to face Federer for the fourth time in a W&S Open final.
Among the women, the star power may have dimmed as the week wore on, but there, too, redemption proved an intriguing storyline. With Williams, in the midst of a challenging comeback following the birth of her daughter last year, and defending W&S Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza both falling in the second round, and this year’s Wimbledon champion, Angelique Kerber, losing to Madison Keys in the third, the path was cleared for top-ranked Simona Halep to return to the W&S Open finals for the third time in four years.
By Saturday, the storms of the previous three days had given way to sunshine, and the tournament schedule was back on track. Djokovic defeated 2016 W&S Open champion Marin Cilic in the first men’s semifinal, then watched Federer emerge victorious after David Goffin retired with a shoulder injury early in the second set of the other semifinal match. On the women’s side, Kiki Bertens upended eighth-ranked Petra Kvitova, while Halep breezed by Aryna Sabalenka.
On a gorgeous Sunday afternoon, a boisterous Center Court crowd first watched Bertens stun Halep to become the first unseeded player to win the Western & Southern Open. Then, in the matchup most had been waiting for, Djokovic handed Federer his first loss in a Cincinnati final. In doing so, the Serbian superstar became the first player to win all nine of the Masters 1000 tournaments.
In all, nearly 13,000 patrons attended the final session, setting a Western & Southern Open Sunday record.
For Greater Cincinnati, a metropolis on the move, the tournament’s dynamic growth in recent years has brought a global audience and a local windfall. In 2017, the tournament was televised in more than 170 countries, while visitors from all 50 states and 35 countries helped generate nearly $50 million in economic impact. Adding to the tally this past year was the construction of the $25 million South Building, which began immediately following the conclusion of last year’s tournament. Despite a rough winter, the spectacular new facility made its debut on time.
The relentless focus on improving the experience for players and fans alike is the product of a vision long shared by tournament officials and John Barrett, who stepped in 17 years ago to prevent the tournament from leaving Cincinnati – its home since 1899 – for Chicago. Today, Western & Southern’s financial support constitutes the longest-running title sponsorship of all the Masters 1000 tournaments.
With this year’s tournament over, fans feeling the withdrawal and looking ahead can mark their calendars. The 2019 Western & Southern Open dates are set for Aug. 10-18.
About Western & Southern Financial Group
Founded in Cincinnati in 1888 as The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, and celebrating 130 years this year, Western & Southern Financial Group, Inc. (Western & Southern), a Fortune 500 company, is now the parent company of a group of diversified financial services businesses. Its assets owned ($48.3 billion) and managed ($26.2 billion) total $74.5 billion as of June 30, 2018. Western & Southern is one of the strongest life insurance groups in the world. Its six life insurance subsidiaries (The Western and Southern Life Insurance Company, Western-Southern Life Assurance Company, Columbus Life Insurance Company, Integrity Life Insurance Company, The Lafayette Life Insurance Company and National Integrity Life Insurance Company) maintain very strong financial ratings. Other member companies include Eagle Realty Group, LLC; Fort Washington Investment Advisors, Inc.;1 IFS Financial Services, Inc.; Peppertree Partners LLC;1 Touchstone Advisors, Inc.;1 Touchstone Securities, Inc.;2 W&S Brokerage Services, Inc.;2 and W&S Financial Group Distributors, Inc. Find more information on the Western & Southern family of companies. Western & Southern is the title sponsor of six major community events every year, including the Western & Southern Open, a premier event in the U.S. Open Series played each August by the world’s top-ranked professional male and female tennis players.
1A registered investment advisor.