2016 ATP Washington Preview and Predictions
Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Tennis Atlantic will have live coverage all week from the 2016 Citi Open in Washington D.C., a 500 level hard court tournament that kicks off the North American hard court summer swing.
ATP World Tour 500*
July 18-24, 2016
Washington, D.C., USA
Prize Money: $1,629,475\
*denotes joint ATP/WTA event
Top 4 seeds (top 16 seeds receive first round byes) (ATP ranking in parentheses)
1: John Isner (16)
2: Gael Monfils (17)
3: Bernard Tomic (19)
4: Benoit Paire (24)
For a 500 level tournament D.C. is up for grabs without any top 10 players in the field.
First round matchups to watch:
Adrian Mannarino vs. (WC)Frances Tiafoe
Newport quarterfinalist Mannarino will face the young Tiafoe, who recently made a hard court challenger final in the states. Tiafoe has the game to upset Mannarino, but the Frenchman is a steady performer on faster surfaces.
Lukas Lacko vs. (WC)Denis Shapovalov
The 17 year old Canadian Shapovalov won the 2015 US Open junior final, and reached the junior final of Wimbledon this year as well. This young gun is perhaps the next big thing in Canadian tennis, and is making his ATP debut in D.C.. With a one handed backhand as a lefty, and a confident game, he’s unlikely to be intimidated. Lacko played well at Wimbledon, but is known to be inconsistent.
Yoshihito Nishioka vs. Ivan Dodig
Nishioka qualified at Wimbledon, won a challenger, and most recently reached a challenger semifinal heading into D.C.. Dodig hasn’t had much success in singles this year, but he helped Croatia win their Davis Cup tie over the weekend, and that should help his confidence. Nishioka may be fatigued, but the speedy Japanese young gun is a potential dark horse this tournament given his great form.
John Isner has reached three D.C. finals, including one last year, and after the disappointment of Davis Cup over the weekend, he’ll face either James Duckworth or Tim Smyczek in his first match. Smyczek has never lost to Duckworth, but either should fall to Isner. In round 3, Marcos Baghdatis should await. Baghdatis has to defeat either Denis Kudla or John Millman, probably Millman given Kudla’s poor form, to reach round 3. The Newport semifinalist doesn’t have a great record against Isner, but I have a sense that fatigue will factor into Isner’s play and I’m going with Baghdatis in an upset. Isner is a poor 17-12 on the year, after posting 45 wins last year, and 37 wins in 2014.
Steve Johnson looks set to perform well and reach the quarterfinals. Johnson will face the Mannarino/Tiafoe winner with either Viktor Troicki, or Ryan Harrison/Stephane Robert to follow. Robert was a surprising semifinalist in Hamburg, and he’s into the top 60 now, but at his age, fatigue is likely to play a factor, while Harrison is playing on North American hard courts. Troicki should win that match, but I favor Johnson in the third round given the venue and recent form.
Bernard Tomic was seen working hard on the practice courts over the weekend, and his first match will be against Donald Young or qualifier Ernesto Escobedo. Tomic played well on grass, as he normally does, and now the key will be to continue his good form on hard courts over the summer. Young was a semifinalist in Newport, but Tomic is the better player and should reach round 3. Newport champion Ivo Karlovic played much better last week than he has most of the season, and the big serving veteran will face either Sam Groth or Brian Baker in round 2. If he faces Groth, expect two or three tiebreaks, but regardless, a healthy Karlovic should reach round 3. Tomic vs. Karlovic is a tough match to predict, but a fresher Tomic is my pick for the quarters.
Grigor Dimitrov badly needs a confidence boosting result in D.C. after a tough season. Dimitrov will face either Dan Evans or veteran Benjamin Becker in round 2, with most likely Jack Sock to follow in round 3. Sock comes off a tough loss in Davis Cup and faces the Lacko/Shapovalov winner in round 2. Sock is 2-1 in the h2h against Dimitrov, and he’s playing at home, but I see Dimitrov prevailing due to a Davis Cup hangover for Sock.
Gael Monfils will face Rendy Lu or Austin Krajicek in round 2, with most likely Davis Cup weekend warrior Borna Coric to follow in round 3. Coric will face Vasek Pospisil or Yuichi Sugita in round 2. Monfils has been in poor form in recent weeks, but he’s played a light schedule and could catch fire with his incredible talent. Monfils over Lu, and Coric over Pospisil are my picks for round 2, given Pospisil’s poor season. Monfils beat Coric this season on indoor hard, but that match went three sets, and with the way Coric played over the weekend, I tip him to upset Monfils.
Sam Querrey will be eager to continue his great form at Wimbledon at a stateside hard court tournament. Querrey will face a fellow American in round 2, either qualifier Alex Kuznetsov or Bjorn Fratangelo, before a likely third round match with the unpredictable shotmaker Alex Dolgopolov. Querrey should be strong enough to defeat Kuznetsov/Fratangelo, and Dolgopolov, as long as he continues to play well. Dolgopolov will play the winner of Jordan Thompson/Victor Estrella, and I’m unsure how well he will play in American heat.
Benoit Paire is the #4 seed, but Gilles Muller, a finalist in Newport, is the favorite to reach the quarters, with wins over Dodig/Nishioka, and either Paire or Jared Donaldson/Vincent Millot. Paire is just 4-5 on a hard court this year, and is below .500 in ATP play (17-20). Muller should serve his way through his opponents, and Donaldson has a shot at a third round breakthrough if he can defeat Millot and upset Paire.
Young gun Alexander Zverev has a difficult early draw to navigate, but he’s a player to watch this tournament, after making a hasty exit in Hamburg on clay. Zverev appeared calm and confident in press today, and the Olympian is set to face fellow young Taylor Fritz in a great second round battle, as long as Fritz gets the job done against veteran Dudi Sela. Sela is in decent form, while Fritz has been struggling as of late. Zverev should defeat either, although he’s had more success outside of hard courts this season. Kevin Anderson, desperate for some hard court success to help his ranking and form, awaits in round 3, presuming Anderson is healthy and can defeat Malek Jaziri or wild card Reilly Opelka. Anderson is an awful 7-10 this season, and he has struggled to stay healthy after winning 46 matches last year. Given the circumstances, Zverev into the quarters is my pick.
Dark Horse: Borna Coric
Coric is the final seeded player, but if he plays like he did in Portland over the weekend, he should be able to go far. Monfils and Querrey are tough opponents, but Coric is a more steady and consistent baseliner than they are, and if he wins those matches he should be opposite Zverev or Muller in the semifinals.
Johnson d. Baghdatis
Dimitrov d. Tomic
Zverev d. Muller
Querrey d. Coric
Johnson has a h2h win over Baghdatis, Dimitrov is 2-0 against Tomic, Zverev should be able to return well enough to defeat Muller, and Querrey has been in good enough form I have him defeating Coric.
Dimitrov d. Johnson
Zverev d. Querrey
Both these European players could use a good run on hard courts, and with 500 ranking points up for grabs, look for them to perform well.
Zverev d. Dimitrov
Zverev has two wins this year against Dimitrov, and after two ATP finals on two different surfaces this season, he’s eager to capture his first ATP title. Weather conditions are one factor to consider however.