Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, tennis fans of all ages, The Outer Courts is back for another fun-filled week of ATP and WTA tennis action. I, Drew Franklin, and my cohort, Matt Jones, have returned to Tennis Channel to give you a unique and comical perspective, unlike anything you'll find anywhere else on the worldwide web.
This week we'll be wandering aimlessly at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, looking for the next Ivo Karlovic, clapping for every challenge, and buying every t-shirt the gift shop has to offer. It will be a fun and entertaining week, we're very excited to be back, and we hope you'll follow along.
To kick off our first trip to the Western & Southern Open and our second stop with Tennis Channel, here are several frequently asked questions surrounding the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 and WTA Premier 5 event...
How did it begin?
Back in 1899, way before graphite rackets, hard courts, and Red Foo's "Party Rock Anthem," the Avondale Athletic Club hosted the Cincinnati Open for the area's top tennis players. The matches were played on clay courts on the grounds that is now known as Xavier University.
The tournament moved to the Cincinnati Tennis Club four years later, its primary location up until 1972.
From 1978 to 1989, now at a permanent stadium in Mason, Ohio, the Cincinnati Master was a major tournament in the men's Grand Prix Tennis Tour and part of the Grand Prix Championship Series.
The Western & Southern Financial Group became the primary sponsor in 2002 and, in 2008, The United States Tennis Association, owners of the U.S. Open, purchased a majority stake in the tournament.
In August 2013, the Western & Southern Open opened its arms to TheOuterCourts.com.
Where is it played?
The tournament is held at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio. The venue features 16 courts, including four tennis stadiums, making it the only non-Grand Slam venue with more than two stadium courts. Its center court can hold up to 11,400 spectators and Maria Sharapova admirers.
When do the sessions begin?
Action gets underway everyday at 11:00 a.m. and lasts until around 11:00 p.m., dependent on the length of the evening matches.
Each day is split into an afternoon and evening session so you'll need two tickets if you plan on sticking around for an entire day.
Is that Kings Island?!!!
Yes, that's King Island, the largest amusement and water park in the midwest. You can go another time. Stay focused, please.
Who is competing?
All of the sport's biggest stars are in this year's tournament field. You name them, they're here.
Who won last year?
Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic 6-0, 7-6 for his fifth Western & Southern Open title in eight years.
Li Na won the women's crown over Angelique Kerber in three sets. The win moved her up one spot in the world rankings to No. 8.
Are there any big storylines this year?
Why yes, actually, there is an exciting potential quarter-final showdown between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. The two were set up to meet in this year's Wimbledon quarter-final but both were upset in earlier rounds. They've met twice in 2013 with Rafa winning both contests.
There is also the resurgence of the bitter feud between Matt and Jack Sock. Sock will be tested early against the red hot Milos Raonic and Matt will almost certainly be Raonic's biggest supporter in the stands.
Spaghetti noodles? With my chili?
It's a Cincinnati thing. You'll probably taste a little cinnamon and chocolate in the chili, too. Cincinnatians consume more than two-million pounds of it each year.
Is it too late to buy tickets?
Most of the prime tickets have been gobbled up but you can still grab a single session seat through Ticketmaster.com. Fans can also purchase a "grounds pass" for sold out sessions for general seating anywhere outside Center Court.
Where can I park?
Parking is free and provided at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
I live in Nebraska and gas prices are outrageous, can I watch it on TV?
Absolutely. The tournament will be broadcast for a record 64.5 hours, beginning Monday morning at 11:00 a.m. on Tennis Channel. The pregame show starts at 10:30 a.m.
Can we please go ride The Beast?
No. We cannot.