Strong is Beautiful: @CitiOpen Is a Knockout Among @WTA International Tournaments
Though this blog now covers many events, I am always sentimental about Citi Open. It’s like my first-born, because it was the first tournament to which I was credentialed as media. And there only a few of us who can say that they were among the credentialed media for the inaugural Citi Open at College Park, because I counted all twelve of them.
My how you’ve grown, Citi Open. In addition to Citi beginning its sponsorship of the DC ATP Tournament formerly known as Legg Mason Tennis Classic last year, the WTA field for the 2013 event is rock-solid.
Let me explain the talent arc of this event. There are 8 top seeds in a field of 32. In 2011, the average rank of a seeded WTA player at Citi Open was 50.125. The top seed was world #24 Sharar Peer.
In 2012, the average rank of a seeded WTA player at Citi Open was 56.25, with world #28 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova as top seed. Of course, last year’s field was ravaged by the Summer Olympics, so much so that the defending champion of the 2011 Citi Open, Nadia Petrova, skipped it to play in London.
If Strong is Beautiful, Then This Field Is A Knock-Out
This year’s WTA player field is so strong that it blows away the past tournaments. The average rank of a top 8 seeded player is 25.375 in 2013 at Citi Open. That’s basically twice the ranking quality of 2011 and more than twice the ranking quality of last year’s field.
As you probably know, an International-level event, though sounding prestigious, is near the bottom of the WTA totem pole. How does DC’s average seeded player ranking compare with other events at the International level? Very favorably.
Two International tournaments are going on this week. The Swedish Collector Open in Bastad has world #1 Serena Williams as the top seed, and still has an average seed ranking of 50.125, the same field quality as the inaugural Citi Open. And that’s with Serena bumping up the average ranking. Bad Gastein, this week’s other International-level event, has a 60.75 average mean seed ranking. They’ve got world #33 Mona Barthel as top seed and #72 Karin Knapp in the 8 slot.
The Citi Open field is so strong it approaches the quality of next week’s Bank of the West Classic. Even with two top 10 players in the world, their top 8 seeds average out to a 22.875. That’s right. Stanford, a Premier-level tournament with three times the prize money of Citi Open, gets a player field that’s remarkably similar to DC’s field.
2011 Citi Open Seeds (Wikipedia)
2012 Citi Open Seeds (Wikipedia)
2013 Citi Open Seeds (Projected)
1. Angelique Kerber (9)
2. Sloane Stephens (16)
3. Simone Halep (23)
4. Kaia Kanepi (25)
5. Ekaterina Makarova (26)
6. Alize Cornet (30)
7. Sorana Cirstea (33)
8. Magdalena Rybarikova (41)
We asked Citi Open Tournament Director Jeff Newman if he agreed that this is a great line-up and to help us find possible reasons why this field is so powerful for a WTA International level event.
We’re certainly excited about this strong WTA player field. DC is a great destination for players, and the proximity on the calendar helps us leading into Cincinnati, Canada and the US Open. We were very pleased to have a last direct acceptance of #80. —Jeff Newman
That’s a last direct acceptance into the entire field of 32.
Newman will let the WTA decide whether Citi Open could or should be bumped up to a WTA Premier Tournament in the future.
More WTA Matches On Stadium
One big change this year in DC is that the first matches will generally begin at 2:00 p.m. and not the long-standing 4:00 p.m. start time.
Speaking of statistics and averages, last year, I grumbled that the women only made it on Stadium Court 6% of the time. Well, leave it to Citi Open to take care of that. This year, the matches will start at 2:00 p.m. to allow for more WTA matches on Stadium. In fact, the WTA will have Stadium Court for the first matches of the day from Monday through Wednesday this year, according to Newman.
“We wanted to make sure DC tennis fans get an even bigger bang for their buck than ever before”, Newman posited.
After crunching the numbers, I’m confident that DC fans are in for a very big bang for their buck.
If Strong is Beautiful, then this field is a knockout.
—-Steve Fogleman, TennisEastCoast.com
The qualifying action begins at Citi Open in Washington, DC in just 10 days. The joint ATP/WTA event runs through August 4. Tickets available at citiopentennis.com or 202-721-9500.