Monfils Slips Past Karlovic To Claim 2016 Citi Open Title Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
All Photos Credit: Christopher Levy @tennis_shots
Gael Monfils showed his tremendous talent, as he dug deep to defeat the big serving Ivo Karlovic 5-7 7-6 6-4 in the 2016 Citi Open final. It’s the first 500 level title for Monfils, and his first title in over two years, as he’s historically struggled in ATP finals.
The Frenchman had a great week in Washington, and his positive mood wasn’t dampened after dropping the first set against Karlovic. The 37 year old Croatian was bidding to win his second ATP title in a row, and he got off to a good start, putting pressure on Monfils serve and eventually breaking, although he had to save three break points from 0-40 down in the ensuing game, serving 6-5 for the first set. That initial tightness under pressure for Ivo would rear its ugly head in the second set.
Despite being broken to go down 7-5 5-4, Monfils was not down for the count after all. Karlovic wasn’t broken all week up to that point, but went 0-40 down serving for the match, and although he got it back to deuce, a fourth break point in the game gave Monfils the chance to attack and level up the match at 5-5. He went on to improve his serving and force a third set with a second set tiebreak victory.
In that third set, the fresher Monfils, a far superior mover, broke Karlovic early, and held serve from there to pull away for the title, leaving Karlovic pleased with his week overall, but disappointed to lose when he was so close to victory. Dr. Ivo had a match point in the second set tiebreak, but it wasn’t on his serve, and despite serving well, with 28 aces and 84% of his first serve points won, he couldn’t win enough return points to prevail in a close match.
In the doubles final, Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin beat Lukasz Kubot and Alexander Peya in a pair of tiebreaks, as the veteran Canadian doubles specialist claimed another ATP title.
It was an exciting week of tennis in Washington to kick off the summer hard court season in the USA. The Citi Open organizers, volunteers and staff deserve credit for running a fantastic event.
In Friday night action at the 2016 Citi Open, Gael Monfils and Alexander Zverev setup a big semifinal clash scheduled for Saturday night, as both fan favorite players continued their good form this week, defeating Sam Querrey, and Benoit Paire respectively.
Monfils played a quick three set contest with Querrey, winning 6-4 3-6 6-1. Querrey showed tremendous power to hit through the ball and push Monfils off the court at times, but Monfils strong serving saved the day for him. The Frenchman got one break in the first set, and didn’t face any break points on his own serve. In the second, a push by Querrey got him a needed break, and he upped his own service consistency to force a third set. Monfils had an extra gear though, with the match on the line, he went 3-0 up in the third after saving two break point chances, and ended up rolling past Querrey, who faded late. Monfils superior movement, and comparable service skill on hard courts was enough to defeat Querrey, despite his best efforts.
Benoit Paire played a miserable contest, and Zverev dropped him with ease 6-1 6-3 in less than an hour. Paire got jumped by Zverev on his serve, and found himself broken three out of four times he served in the first set. In the second set, Zverev’s lethal baseline play continued, he put tremendous pressure on Paire’s serve and got the break he needed, dominating his own service games to walk away a routine victor. The young German has demonstrated he’s going to be a dark horse threat in later tournaments this summer, and remains in the running for his first ATP title.
In men’s doubles, Kubot/Peya defeated Johnson/Sock, and Kontinen/Peers ousted a tired Querrey and Chris Guccione in a tight second set tiebreak.
Johnson vs. Karlovic, and Zverev vs. Monfils are the men’s semifinals. The first semifinal should feature tiebreaks and a lot of big serving, while Monfils and Zverev are more likely to contest their match from the baseline and rally for winners. In Men’s doubles semifinal action, it will be Mergea/Tecau against Nestor/Roger-Vasselin, and Kubot/Peya vs. Kontinen/Peers as doubles specialists are the only remaining options for men’s doubles champion at the Citi Open.
A big day of tennis on Thursday saw Ivo Karlovic and Steve Johnson continue their winning ways at the 2016 Citi Open, and they backed it up on Friday, defeating Jack Sock and John Isner respectively in quarterfinal round action.
Karlovic dominated Bernard Tomic in his round of 16 match, winning 7-6 6-3. A tight first set was followed up by a poor showing in the second from Tomic, who was broken and found himself behind and unable to come back against Karlovic’s ruthless serve. Karlovic, who recently became the oldest ATP title winner at 37, followed up that performance with a 7-6 7-6 victory Jack Sock. Karlovic smacked 26 aces in a match that saw no break points converted by either player. After dropping the first set tiebreak, and not earning a single break point chance, Sock had a chance early in the second, two chances at 3-3, and one more chance at 4-4, but he couldn’t convert, and ended up losing the match in another tiebreak.
Johnson defeated Ryan Harrison on Thursday 6-4 6-4. He served so well Harrison had no chances to break him, and just a single break in each set was enough to grab the victory. In the quarterfinals he dealt with 29 aces by John Isner, and fended off six break point chances for Isner to win 7-6 7-6 in just under two hours. Isner had four set point chances in the first, but was unable to convert, smashing his racquet after dropping the first set tiebreak. In the second, although frustrated, he battled on, and forced Johnson to save two more break point chances serving 3-3.
A tiebreak would follow shortly thereafter, and what a tiebreak it was. Isner was up 6-3 at one point, but Johnson saved three set point chances, to earn a match point at 7-6. Isner would get set point chances four more times, while Johnson had four more match point chances, before finally converting his sixth MP chance to take the tiebreak 17-15. When it mattered, Isner’s forehand was too erratic, and Johnson dug deep on his own serve to fight through the match. It was simply not Isner’s day.
In other Men’s round of 16 action on Thursday, Gael Monfils was dominant against a young Borna Coric. Coric was left looking for answers as he lost 6-2 6-3 to the gliding Frenchman. Monfils served with pace and angle, covered the back of the court with grace, and played attack tennis, coming forward when needed, as Coric lacked power on his shots, and at times his returns were wildly off, resulting in unforced errors. Coric got off to a miserable start, as he just didn’t look comfortable against Monfils style, and it never really got better for the young Croatian. Monfils played one of his best matches of the season, and was never pressured on his own serve.
Alexander Zverev won a battle against Malek Jaziri 6-2 5-7 6-2. Zverev was the dominant player for most of the match, but Jaziri was a pesky opponent to put away as he battled for over two hours. Zverev needed three set points to close out the first set, after he had saved some Jaziri break points early in the first. Then Jaziri fought even harder, saving break points in two of his service games in set 2, before taking his one and only break point chance of the set up to that point, and serving out the set on his third set point chance to force a decisive third set. In the third, after dropping his first service game, a long one where Zverev earned four break point chances, Jaziri faded, and Zverev was able to win with relative ease to book a spot in the quarterfinals.
Sam Querrey was the more consistent player against Alexandr Dolgopolov in one of the two late matches on Thursday, winning 7-6 6-3. Dolgopolov produced his share of shotmaking highlights, but after early breaks in the first set for both players, they calmed down on serve and the match ended up in an opening set tiebreak. In the second, Dolgopolov fought on, and he was up a break 3-1, but he wilted from there, and a confident Querrey reeled off five straight games to complete his victory.
Benoit Paire got his match against Gilles Muller moved to stadium court, and put on a stadium court showcase in the late night match. Paire won 6-2 3-6 7-6 over the big serving Muller. Muller was broken early in the first, and broken once more, to allow Paire to walk away with the set without facing any break points on his own serve. In the second, a single late break produced a set for Muller as he held for love to force a third 5-3 up. Muller had an early break point chance in Paire’s long first service game in the third, and he got three more chances with Paire serving 5-5, but he couldn’t convert, and without generating any break point chances in the third, Paire earned a narrow tiebreak victory. Both Monfils and Paire are playing well and look to be in a great mood in D.C.
Zverev faces Paire, and Monfils faces Querrey in the night time quarterfinal matches in Washington.
Also on Thursday, Sock defeated Dan Evans 6-1 7-5, as Evans seemed a bit gassed after a good week in Washington, and Isner continued his winning streak against Marcos Baghdatis 7-6 6-2. Isner has never lost to Baghdatis, who fought hard in the first, but faded from there, as he looked entirely flummoxed about what to do with Isner’s huge serve. Mergea/Tecau defeated Marach/Martin and Nestor/Roger-Vasselin got past Lindstedt/Troicki in ATP doubles quarterfinal action.
Johnson/Sock vs. Kubot/Peya and Kontinen/Peers vs. Guccione/Querrey are the remaining ATP doubles quarterfinal matches.
A full day of play on Wednesday at the 2016 Citi Open saw most of the favorites advance into the next round. On the women’s side, Yanina Wickmayer beat Shuai Zhang 6-3 7-5, Lauren Davis won an All-American battle with Shelby Rogers 5-7 7-5 6-3, Kristina Mladenovic got past Samantha Crawford 6-2 2-6 6-3, and Yulia Putintseva defeated local favorite Usue Arconada 6-4 4-6 6-4 in a nearly two and a half hour battle. The oft injured Jessica Pegula upset Christina McHale 7-5 6-2. and top seed Sam Stosur advanced 5-7 4-3 (ret.) against fan favorite Caroline Wozniacki. Wozniacki hurt her arm late in the first set, and although she won that set, she was eventually in too much pain to carry on.
In ATP second round action, four American men advanced to the round of 16, led by top seed John Isner, who dominated proceedings against overmatched Australian James Duckworth 6-3 6-4. Jack Sock beat Lukas Lacko 7-6 6-4 in a nip and tuck battle, Steve Johnson had more depth and power on his shots compared to Adrian Mannarino and won 6-3 6-4, and Ryan Harrison upset Viktor Troicki with solid defensive minded tennis 7-6 6-4. Troicki had his chances in the match, but was left frustrated by Harrison’s ability to chase down shots from the baseline and counter Troicki’s more powerful tennis. Johnson has won 12 of his last 15 matches and is in great form himself.
Young gun American Taylor Fritz wasn’t as lucky, he fell 6-4 6-2 to Alexander Zverev. The first set was a long one, as Zverev had to save five break points serving up a break 2-1. Fritz didn’t get another shot to break in the set, and Zverev took it. After facing four break points on his own serve in the opening game of set 2, Fritz was broken serving 1-1, and at that point you saw the will to fight leave him like a deflated balloon. Fritz is talented, but Zverev won most baseline rallies, was much stronger on serve, and showed why he’s ranked 30 spots higher in the ATP rankings.
Big servers Gilles Muller, and Ivo Karlovic advanced, Muller was too imposing for the undersized Yoshihito Nishioka and won 6-4 6-1. Karlovic edged past Brian Baker 6-3 7-6, as Baker was too shaky on his own serve against a player as strong as Karlovic. Kevin Anderson continued his woeful season and was upset however. Malek Jaziri won his second third set tiebreak in as many days 5-7 6-4 7-6. Jaziri was steely in his own right, while Anderson faltered when it mattered.
Gael Monfils and Borna Coric will meet in the round of 16. Monfils showed off his movement and shotmaking against Rendy Lu. Lu didn’t have an answer as he lost 6-3 6-2. Monfils was in good mood, and won 100% of his first serve points in the first set. Coric advanced with ease 6-4 6-4 over Yuichi Sugita, as he faced practically no pressure on his own serve, but pressured Sugita in multiple return games.
In late action, Bernard Tomic defeated Donald Young 7-6 6-3, and Marcos Baghdatis dominated John Millman 6-2 6-4.
In men’s doubles, Mergea/Tecau defeated Kudla/Tiafoe, Marach/Martin beat Stepanek/Zimonjic, Kontinen/Peers defeated Huey/Mirnyi, Guccione/Querrey beat Butorac/Lipsky, Nestor/Roger-Vasselin beat Fritz/Opelka, Lindstedt/Troicki beat Cabal/Farah, and Johnson/Sock beat Melo/Soares is an upset.
In women’s doubles, Aoyama/Ozaki, Dabrowski/Yang, Melichar/Xu, and Aoyama/Ozaki are all marching on.
Dimitrov and Bouchard Fall on Tuesday at Citi Open Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Fan favorites Grigor Dimitrov and Eugenie Bouchard crashed out of the Citi Open on Tuesday at the hands of Dan Evans and Camila Giorgi respectively. Dimitrov played with malaise in the afternoon heat, creating an opportunity for Evans that he seized upon. The Brit dictated with his one handed backhand and came away with a 6-4 6-4 victory in less than an hour and a half of play. Dimitrov was broken in the opening game of the match, then broken once more after breaking back. He had a chance at the end of the first set to get the match to 5-5, but failed to do so.
In the second set, it was more of the same, with Evans steady on his serve, snuffing out chances for Dimitrov. Evans attacked Dimitrov’s serve and ended up 5-2 up, and serving for the match. He had three match points serving 5-2, but Dimitrov clawed back, and made a late rally, holding at love to force Evans to serve for the match once again at 5-4. Despite the final game going to deuce, a fifth match point was finally the clincher for Evans, as Dimitrov’s baseline game simply broke down when it mattered. A woeful season continues for Dimitrov, while Evans is perhaps making his move into a regular ATP tour quality player.
Bouchard, another would be star who has had woeful results this season, fell to Giorgi 7-5 6-4. She was behind the entire first set, at one point 4-1 down, only to break back, before eventually being broken on her own serve when serving to force a first set tiebreak. In the second set, the story repeated itself, with Giorgi going 4-2 up, Bouchard breaking back, but losing her own serve at 4-5 with the match on the line. Giorgi only had one match point, but it’s all she needed to score a big win.
In other WTA results, Naomi Broady defeated Irina Falconi 6-3 6-4, Sabine Lisicki was all smiles against Kristina Kucova 6-3 7-5, Christina McHale got past the unorthodox Monica Niculescu 6-3 6-4, Tamira Paszek defeated qualifier Lauren Albanese 6-3 6-4, Monica Puig won the lone battle on the day against Oceane Dodin 6-2 4-6 6-3 in two hours, and Risa Ozaki stunned Sloane Stephens 6-2 6-1 in less than an hour. Stephens played one of her worst matches of the season, while Puig looked dominant until she didn’t against Dodin, and had to fight her way back.
In the lone ATP doubles match on the day, Lukasz Kubot and Alexander Peya won a tight battle against Brian Baker and Austin Krajicek 4-6 6-2 10-8.
As for ATP singles, there were a lot of close tiebreak matches on the day. Brian Baker needed two tiebreaks to defeat the big serving Sam Groth. Groth was poor on return, as is usual, but just a few points difference separated the two men, as a frustrated Groth easily could have been the winner instead. Fellow American Ryan Harrison didn’t play incredibly great, but he still defeated a likely jet-lagged Stephane Robert 7-6 6-3. Ivan Dodig retired down 6-2 4-2 against Yoshihito Nishioka, as he was also feeling the effects of fatigue.
Austin Krajicek lost twice on the day, as he also fell in singles at the hands of Rendy Lu, 6-1 7-6. Donald Young found himself in a tight contest with lower ranked qualifier Ernesto Escobedo, he eventually prevailed 6-4 3-6 6-3, as Escobedo had few chances in the third set to get back into the match. Tall American Reilly Opelka battled hard for what would have been a big win against Malek Jaziri, but Jaziri was steady on his own serve, despite his struggles against the American’s height. The match finished 6-7 7-6 7-6, as late in the third set, Opelka was experiencing shoulder pain and had to call the trainer. With as well as he played against an ATP tour regular, Opelka showed more than a glimpse of his potential.
Another young gun, Denis Shapovalov, put up quite the contest against an ATP regular. Lukas Lacko needed three sets against the young Canadian, winning 7-6 4-6 6-4. The first set of the match featured four breaks of serve, while the second had just one, which went against Lacko. Shapovalov tightened up his game as the match went on, while Lacko forced him to hit a lot of his one handed backhands, a lethal, but at times erratic shot for him. In the third, Shapovalov was serving to make it 5-5, but found himself broken on match point, sending Lacko into the next round by the skin of his teeth. Despite the loss, it’s clear Shapovalov has the game to compete well on the ATP tour as a young gun.
Alexandr Dolgopolov found himself in a two hour war against Jordan Thompson. Dolgo was cruising up 6-4 in the first set, and connecting on his blistering shots from both wings. He played a miserable second set however, losing it 6-1, and in the third set, he was a comfortable 5-2 up, before getting broken and eventually forced into a third set tiebreak, a tiebreak that he got ahead in, and didn’t look back, taking the match 6-4 1-6 7-6. Though he surely wished the match had been easier, Dolgopolov packed the stands with his exciting play.
In late action, Benoit Paire dominated Jared Donaldson 6-0 7-5, and Sam Querrey came back from a shock first set dropped against Bjorn Fratangelo to win 6-7 6-4 6-4. Querrey wasn’t broken in the match until late in the third set, and at that point he was still 5-3 up, and served the match out in his next service game to earn an important victory. Thunderstorms moved in late on Tuesday, interrupting Steve Johnson vs. Adrian Mannarino (4-2 for Johnson), Kristina Mladenovic vs. Samantha Crawford (6-2 1-3), and Lauren Davis vs. Shelby Rogers (4-4). Those matches will be completed today.
The tournament marches on today with big matches on both the ATP and WTA side as the top seeds take to the court.
Fritz, Donaldson Lead Citi Open Monday ATP Winners Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
After rain delayed the start of first round ATP action at the 2016 Citi Open on Monday, the matches took to the court, and all of them were able to be completed with a late night finish in Washington.
Young Americans Taylor Fritz and Jared Donaldson were big winners on the day. Fritz rolled past Israeli veteran Dudi Sela 6-4 6-3 in just under an hour and a half. It was domination for Fritz, as he wasn’t broken in the match. This result should boost his confidence heading into a second round contest with fellow young gun Alexander Zverev, in which he’ll be an underdog.
Donaldson took two hours to defeat fellow qualifier Vincent Millot 5-7 6-2 6-4. It was huge of him to take control of the match from a set down and reverse course to grab a victory. A long first set saw three breaks of serve, with the key one going to Millot. In the third set Donaldson was 5-1 up, but nearly let Millot claw back, eventually closing the match out on his first and only match point opportunity at 5-4 serving.
Bjorn Fratangelo defeated fellow American Alex Kuznetsov 4-6 6-2 6-4, completing a comeback like Donaldson did in two hours of play. Players with D.C. ties were not as lucky however. Denis Kudla continued his struggles, losing to John Millman 7-5 6-0, and Frances Tiafoe battled hard in a red eye match against Adrian Mannarino, but the veteran Frenchman prevailed 7-6(4) 7-5. In both sets, Tiafoe served up a break, and in fact he was 3-0 up in the second set, but the pressure got to him, and Mannarino was able to come back and capture both sets, breaking Tiafoe when the young American was serving for a second set tiebreak, that could have led to a third set.
In other action, Dan Evans dominated Benjamin Becker and came up with some stunning shots, the Brit won 6-2 6-1. James Duckworth rolled past Tim Smyczek 7-5 6-1, and fellow Aussie Jordan Thompson joined him in the winners circle, 6-3 6-2 against the struggling Victor Estrella.
In the lone upset on the day, Yuichi Sugita knocked off Vasek Pospisil after getting breadsticked in the first set. That match finished 1-6 6-2 7-6(4) with a thrilling closing act. The final set featured no breaks of serve, as the big serving Pospisil was steady, but faltered in the tiebreak. It’s been a rough season for the Canadian, and he looks almost certain to fall out of the top 100 now, after just five main draw wins this season.
Looking ahead to Tuesday in Washington, along with the completion of first round ATP action, Grigor Dimitrov will face Evans, Alex Dolgopolov will face Thompson, Donaldson will be opposite Benoit Paire, Fratangelo faces Sam Querrey, and Mannarino will look to oust another American, Steve Johnson. Brian Baker will pull double duty as he plays both singles and doubles on Tuesday.
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.
Quarters 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.
Semis 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.
Final 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.
Qualifiers Set on Steamy Sunday at Citi Open Steve Fogleman and Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
Varvara Flink With Big comeback Win
WASHINGTON (July 17)–Don’t get sick of hearing about the hot weather at Citi Open in Washington this week, because you’ll be hearing about it all week. Seriously, who thought back in February that it would be a good idea to deck the ball kids out in black this year? These kids are warriors, but damn.
Back in February, someone thought Ballkids in Black Was a Great Idea!
When I first saw Varvara Flink’s name, I immediately thought of Tracy Flick from the movie Election. Well, tenacity might be something Flick and Flink have in common, because Flink came back from being BAGELED in the first set to snatching a three-set victory from Japan’s Hiroko Kuwata, 0-6, 6-2, 6-4. She moves on to the main draw, but so will Kuwata as a lucky loser. Both players will need to summon the power of Tracy Flick tomorrow, as Flink takes on Putintseva and Kuwata is rewarded with Caroline Wozniacki.
Lauren Albanese in Straights
American Lauren Albanese was a 7-5, 6-1 victor over Japan’s Shuko Aoyoma. Alla Kudryavtseva made short work of China’s Shilin Xu, 6-4, 6-4, but China’s Lin Zhu got the better of American Sanaz Marand, 6-2, 6-3 to become the final WTA qualifier of the tournament. For Kudryavtseva, she earns a date with Sam Stosur on Stadium Court tomorrow at 4:00 p.m and Lin Zhu will face Shuai Zhang at the same time on Court 1.
Selfies With Ballgirls for Ryan Harrison After Win
Jared Donaldson Into Main Draw of an ATP 500
On the ATP side, Alex Kuznetsov, James Duckworth, Vincent Millot, Ernesto Escobedo, Jared Donaldson, and Ryan Harrison joined the main draw as qualifiers. Duckworth and Millot were the only players to need a third set, although a poor Alejandro Falla retired against Millot in the third set heat. Donaldson was evenly matched against Marinko Matosevic, who was getting good depth on his shots and hitting the ball hard, but Matosevic hit unforced errors when it mattered, and as a result lost the match in a close pair of sets. In doubles qualifying, Brian Baker and Austin Krajicek defeated Harrison and Dennis Novikov in an All-American clash.
CITI OPEN – WASHINGTON, USA
JULY 18-24 , 2016
RESULTS – JULY 17, 2016
Qualifying Singles – Second Round
Qualifying –  E. Escobedo (USA) d  D. Novikov (USA) 76(3) 64
Qualifying –  V. Millot (FRA) d  A. Falla (COL) 67(3) 75 41 Retired
Qualifying –  J. Donaldson (USA) d  M. Matosevic (AUS) 76(9) 64
Qualifying –  R. Harrison (USA) d  A. Weintraub (ISR) 64 63
Qualifying –  A. Kuznetsov (USA) d  M. Barton (AUS) 64 63
Qualifying –  J. Duckworth (AUS) d  A. Sarkissian (USA) 46 76(5) 62
Qualifying Doubles – Second Round
Qualifying –  [PR] B. Baker (USA) / A. Krajicek (USA) d R. Harrison (USA) / D. Novikov (USA) 46 64 10-8
Qualifying Singles – Second Round
Qualifying –  L. Zhu (CHN) d S. Marand (USA) 62 63
Qualifying – [WC] V. Flink (RUS) d  H. Kuwata (JPN) 06 62 64
Qualifying –  A. Kudryavtseva (RUS) d  S. Xu (CHN) 63 64
Qualifying – L. Albanese (USA) d  S. Aoyama (JPN) 75 61
ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, JULY 18, 2016
CENTER COURT start 1:50 pm
WTA –  S. Stosur (AUS) vs [Q] A. Kudryavtseva (RUS)
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – D. Evans (GBR) vs B. Becker (GER)
Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – D. Kudla (USA) vs J. Millman (AUS)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – D. Sela (ISR) vs T. Fritz (USA)
ATP – A. Mannarino (FRA) vs [WC] F. Tiafoe (USA)
GRANDSTAND 1 start 2:00 pm
WTA –  Y. Wickmayer (BEL) vs M. Brengle (USA)
Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – [Q] J. Duckworth (AUS) vs T. Smyczek (USA)
Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – Y. Sugita (JPN) vs V. Pospisil (CAN)
Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [LL] H. Kuwata (JPN) vs C. Wozniacki (DEN)
WTA – [WC] F. Abanda (CAN) vs [WC] U. Arconada (USA)
GRANDSTAND 2 start 4:00 pm
ATP – [Q] A. Kuznetsov (USA) vs B. Fratangelo (USA)
ATP – [Q] V. Millot (FRA) vs [Q] J. Donaldson (USA)
WTA –  Y. Putintseva (KAZ) vs [Q] V. Flink (RUS)
WTA – A. Wozniak (CAN) vs [WC] J. Pegula (USA)
COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
WTA – [Q] L. Zhu (CHN) vs S. Zhang (CHN)
WTA – After Suitable Rest – M. Brengle (USA) / S. Crawford (USA) vs I. Falconi (USA) / D. Lao (USA)
ATP – J. Thompson (AUS) vs V. Estrella Burgos (DOM
Day 1 Qualifying Recap at 2016 Citi Open: Falla Wins Battle Steen Kirby, Tennis Atlantic
A steamy day 1 at the 2016 Citi Open Qualifying held true to form, as most of the favored players advanced with ease into the second round of qualifying matches. On the ATP side, Matthew Barton, Alex Kuznetsov, Alexander Sarkissian, Marinko Matosevic, James Duckworth, Ernesto Escobedo and Amir Weintraub all turned away their opponents without dropping a set, or facing the threat of doing so.
The lone competitive qualifying match on the men’s side today was Alejandro Falla’s 6-3 3-6 7-6(4) victory over Mackenzie McDonald. The veteran took to stadium court, and was more consistent than his younger opponent. McDonald was relatively strong on serve, but spewed too many groundstroke errors when it counted, and although Falla squandered break point chances in the third set, including a match point up 5-4 on his opponent’s serve, he went on to win the final set tiebreak. Prior to that tiebreak, both games featured breaks of serve, and McDonald was broken serving for the match. With more ATP experience, McDonald will be able to convert tiring battles from losses, into wins, but as it stands he appeared to slow down his game in the heat.
The WTA matches were generally closer. Jennifer Elie, playing in her fifth qualifying in Washington, lost in three to Lin Zhu. Jarmila Wolfe (formerly Gajdosova and Groth) played her first match since undergoing shoulder surgery and made it three sets against Hiroko Kuwata of Japan before Kuwata pulled away decisively in the third set, 6-4, 7-5, 6-0. 17-year-old Raveena Kingsley, who resides just 40 miles away in Baltimore, also went three, with another Japanese player, Shuko Aoyoma, also serving up a bagel in the final stanza and winning 6-3, 2-6, 6-0. Alla Kudryavtseva, known locally for playing WTT tennis for the Washington Kastles in 2013, was a three set winner against Danielle Lao, 7-5, 3-6, 6-3. Varvara Flink, Sanaz Marand, Shilin Xu and Lauren Albanese were also winners.
Raveena Kingsley (Photo: @tennis_shots Christopher Levy)
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!