It’s Hardware Sunday at Citi Open
Steve Fogleman in Washington
Sunday caps off one of the most exciting years yet for the 52-year-old Citi Open in Washington, as a week of frenetic play under pristine August weather comes to a close with hardware handed out for singles and doubles champions and finalists. In a perfect world, Rafael Nadal would appear at tonight’s singles final and bite the winner’s trophy to guarantee its authenticity, but it is not to be.
Jannik Sinner and Mackenzie McDonald have both played a high level of tennis all week long and deserve to be on the stage today. Sinner’s the prohibitive -380 favorite in Vegas, but McDonald is far and away the sentimental favorite.
McDonald’s press conference gave us a peek into the troughs of pro tennis. After 2019 injuries and COVID-19 sidelined and then isolated him, he could put no positive spin on it. “No. Honestly, it was a really painful time, really super tough,” he said forlornly. “It was really rough. I had no idea what to expect. I didn’t know. I was away from family, too. I was lucky. My girlfriend’s father was able to spend time with me, he’s retired, and helped me. I couldn’t walk and drive myself and do anything”, he continued. “I had an apartment on the third floor and no elevator. It was pretty shitty. So, yeah, I didn’t know where I was going to be two years later. Like I said, I have always worked hard, always put in the work. A little bit older, too, and it’s helping.”
You just don’t hear real-life stories like that every day. He’s playing for his first ATP tour level title with his heart on his sleeve. Meanwhile, Sinner vies for his biggest trophy to date, having notched 250 titles in Sofia and Melbourne Park. Given the emotion that McDonald’s playing with like house money and the stingy odds on Sinner, the only punt to make today is for the American.