2016 Citi Open Qualifying Preview
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
2016 Citi Open ATP and WTA qualifying starts Saturday, as does Tennis Atlantic’s comprehensive weeklong coverage of the tournament. Here is a look at standouts set to feature in the qualifying draws.
ATP Washington Qualifying
Four ATP events this week, and the end of Davis Cup play, and three ATP tournaments last week means that the player field for Citi Open ATP qualifying was stretched thin. There are six qualifying spots, and four of them are being contested by three players each.
Wimbledon qualifier Dennis Novikov, a former top junior player, has just one ATP win this year, but he’s been solid in challengers and ATP qualifying, and he’s the top seed for qualifying at the Citi Open (#128). 20 year old American Ernesto Escobedo stands in his way. Escobedo is a rising young player who made his ATP debut in Nottingham after qualifying this year. Escobedo will open with local Citi Open practice court partner Leon Vessels in his first match, before facing Novikov.
French veteran Vincent Millot has a recent challenger final on his resume, and gets a bye, before facing either young American Mackenzie McDonald or Colombian veteran Alejandro Falla. McDonald, a recent NCAA champion at UCLA, hasn’t won a pro match this season, while Falla has been in poor form himself, making that match an intriguing one as both players look for form before facing Millot.
19 year old American Jared Donaldson is 0-4 at the ATP level this year, and he’ll be eager to find some form in Washington. He’s still the favorite to qualify against either doubles specialist Scott Lipsky, or former top 40 Australian Marinko Matosevic. Matosevic hasn’t reached an ATP main draw this year, and desperately wants to return to top tier tennis.
Despite some solid weeks earlier in the season, the now 24 year old Ryan Harrison has been struggling for weeks and has to be happy to return to his favored hard courts. Virginia’s Ryan Shane faces Israeli journeyman favorite Amir Weintraub in round 1 qualifying before facing Harrison, who is the favorite in his section.
Australia’s Matthew Barton will face local high schooler Nikita-Girey Demir of Bethesda, Maryland. Barton has been solid on the challenger tour level this year, and is 3-3 in ATP main draw play this season. Barton should face veteran American journeyman Alex Kuznetsov in round 2 qualifying, presuming veteran doubles specialist Eric Butorac doesn’t provide much resistance for Kuznetsov. Kuznetsov qualified in Newport and has been in good form in recent weeks.
Former UGA Bulldog Nate Pasha faces Alexander Sarkissian, who hasn’t had near as good of a season this year, compared to 2015. The winner of that match should face a struggling James Duckworth, who hasn’t won a match in two months, Duckworth opens with standout high schooler Ulises Blanch.
Play over the weekend will determine the six qualifiers who will enter the main draw.
WTA Washington Qualifying
WTA qualifying has four main draw spots on offer, and a full qualifying draw as a result. The top seed is Lin Zhu of China, who is still looking for her WTA breakthrough. Zhu faces an in-form Jennifer Elie in round 1, with the in-form Ksenia Lykina or Sanaz Marand to follow.
Struggling Hiroko Kuwata will face Jarmila Wolfe, who has played sparingly this season. Young Varvara Flink will face a struggling Zhaoxuan Yang, and the winners of both of those matches will compete for a qualifying spot.
Former WTA main draw regular Alla Kudryavtseva is perhaps the best known player in WTA qualifying this year. The 28 year old faces Danielle Lao. She’s the favorite but she needs to find form before facing Shilin Xu, a recent Bucharest qualifier, or Victoria Kan.
The ITF level Shuko Aoyama will face Raveena Kingsley, a young blue chip high schooler, and Maryland resident, looking to make her mark at her home tournament. The winner will face American Lauren Albanese, or a struggling Miyu Kato for the final qualifying spot.
Enjoy our coverage of the 2016 Citi Open this week!