It’s Back to Business as a Normal ATP 500 for @CitiOpen
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Well, the Rafael Nadal hangover is still around, if only for a day. After Nadal’s exit from the Citi Open in Washington last night, there’s a collective sense of loss and exhaustion from the electricity he brought to this ATP 500 event. However, there are eight excellent quarterfinal matches on tap today and storylines still abound.
Let’s stat with Denis Kudla. On Monday, he said that he’d underachieved in his career. Three wins later and Kudla is looking to make his first hometown tournament semifinal today. He went through a tortuous period from 2008-2017, where the DC local went 0-8 in qualifying and first round losses. To make his first ATP Tour final in DC would be a real silver lining for him and the Citi Open. After beating Brandon Nakashima, who’d been playing near perfect tennis, I predict that he will be the semifinalist from this All-American match.
Steve Johnson has been beating the odds all week, first by taking out tournament #3 seed Alex DeMinaur and following it up with a lights-out win over Ricardas Berankis yesterday. Today, he’ll face longer odds as he tries to unseat the highest remaining seeded player, #5 Jannik Sinner, to book his third Citi Open semifinal. That may be a tall order for Johnson, as Sinner looks unbeatable.
Jenson Brooksby continues to dazzle. Jenson’s July was only a pretext of what was to come here in Washington. He has knocked off #16 seed Tiafoe and #2 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and today he faces #11 seed John Millman. Brooksby hasn’t dropped a set all week, but today I am predicting that Millman will end Brooksby’s impressive Citi Open run.
Finally, Kei Nishikori and Lloyd Harris square off for the last semifinal berth. This one is a big question mark as both players may begin to feel some exhaustion set in after last night’s three set wins. Harris looked great out there, but will there be a letdown coming off of his greatest win yet? Kei Nishikori, who has been the rockstar of Citi Opens past, is a bit of an under-the-radar player this week. That said, I’m going to tip his way to reach the semis.
Like all the pics. Especially happy for Kudla. Have only watched Brooksby a couple of times over the last few days. His game is an unusual and impressive combination of great shot tolerance, off-the-charts guile, great hands, deceptive shot-making, and the ability to hit shots consistently in places where opponents don’t like them even if the opponent is unaware that they don’t like the shot there. And that backhand down the line from any position is money. Not quite sure yet what his potential is. Not sure yet I understand how good an athlete he is. Not quite sure yet if he can get a little stronger and add a little more pop to his serve. He’s suddenly my favorite player to watch.