The Cincinnati Open have handed a wild-card to each of Andy Murray and Victoria Azarenka, both former world number ones on their respective tennis circuit.
With injuries having played their part in pushing the duo’s rankings to beyond a direct qualification, the wild-card will come handy as they look to prepare for the US Open.
Azarenka is currently 110th in the world while Murray has fallen to an unprecedented 838th on the men’s tour. He also missed this season’s Wimbledon after having played in a warm-up event before the competition, because of his right hip issue.
Murray had undergone a surgery for that injury.
The Belarusian player was a Cincinnati Open winner in 2013, and she last played at this tournament in 2016 before having taken a break from the tennis as she battles to win custody of her son Leo.
The tournament Director Andre Silva said: “The resumes for Vika and Andy really speak for themselves. I think many tennis fans are eager to see each of them back on the court, and we are pleased to offer them both wild cards to play the Western & Southern Open.”
A total of nine players will be given the wild-card including Murray and Azarenka, five in the men’s section of the draw and four in the women’s draw. The Cincinnati Open kick-starts on August 11 and some of the top players in the world including the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will be in action.
Grigor Dimitrov kick-starts the Western & Southern Open tournament as the defending champion along with Garbine Muguruza. Dimitrov defeated Nick Krygios in the men’s singles final in straight sets while Muguruza crushed Simona Halep 6-1, 6-0 to lift the title.
Murray has won the title here twice, in 2008 and 2011, and was the finalist in 2016, while Azarenka won the title here in 2013, having never otherwise reached the final.