ATP/WTA Quarterfinals Preview @CitiOpen
Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast
As the Citi Open begins its big finish, one wild card remains—rain. After great weather throughout the tournament’s first six days, there’s a significant chance of showers and thunderstorms throughout the afternoon and evening right up through Sunday.
Looking ahead to today’s WTA quarterfinals, the top half of the draw is wide open, with all 4 seeded players having exited the tournament. Despite none of the players possessing a winning singles record in 2014, one of Kiki Mladenovic, Kurumi Nara, Marina Erakovic or Bojana Jovanovski will play in Sunday’s final. None of them, however, will step foot on Stadium Court tonight, as that has been exclusively reserved for the boys.
Mladenovic and Nara met once before, a three setter won by Mladenovic on carpet in Taipei in 2012. Erakovic and Jovanovski also have one head to head meeting, a straight-sets victory by Erakovic earlier this year in Acapulco. Jovanovski is the highest-ranked player remaining in the top half of the draw, and fresh off the Baku final, she may have an edge in the 1 p.m. quarterfinal.
The bottom half features the three remaining seeds, Ekaterina Makarova (2), Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (5), Svetlana Kuznetsova (6) and American Vania King.
Though Pavs and Makarova have a pro history dating back to 2006—and a 4-2 Pavlyuchenkova edge—it is Makarova who has taken two of their last 3 meetings over the last two years. The last WTA match of the day will also be the only one with two seeded players vying for the semis.
Kuznetsova has beaten King in both of their prior meetings, most recently at last year’s Rogers Cup in straights. King is the last WTA player at Citi Open who hails from the States.
The men’s side is predictably more predictable. Six of sixteen seeds remain and all four in the top half are seeded. Vasek Pospisil, who upset top dog Tomas Berdych last night, meets Santiago Giraldo for a spot in the semis in the nightcap. They’ve never met in any kind of ATP, Davis Cup or Grand Slam play before. With their nearly identical rankings, this one is a true toss-up, but I’d give a slight edge to Pospisil after taking out Berdych.
At 7 p.m., Kei Nishikori squares off against Richard Gasquet. Gasquet has a 4-0 advantage over Nishikori since 2008, with three of those matches won in straights. I wouldn’t give Gasquet the advantage in this match, though. Nishikori’s 34-8 record this year is enough to tip the balance to Kei for me.
The bottom half features Milos Raonic, the remaining top seed, doing battle with the surprising Steve Johnson, who has defeated John Isner and Ivo Karlovic in consecutive matches. If he can beat Raonic in the 4 p.m. match, it would not be unfair to call him the “Giant Slayer”. No head to head on these guys, and I can’t see Raonic falling victim to Johnson unless Raonic’s serve dries up.
Speaking of big guys, Kevin Anderson is one match away from breaking into the Citi Open semis for the first time, and he’ll go up against the now-surging Donald Young. Young has played fabulously in Washington this week, showing good form and a high level of composure. His run is also exciting because he is the last US ATP competitor still in the hunt for the title. This is Anderson’s third straight quarterfinal appearance in Washington, and he’s got a 4-0 ATP Tour head to head edge. You have to go all the way back to the 2009 Charlottesville Challenger to find a Donald Young win over Big Kev. Donald’s wild ride through Washington will likely end this afternoon.