2017 Citi Open Women’s Preview, Predictions
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Citi Open 2017 (brought to you by the kid who dressed up as Kiki for Halloween)
It that’s time of year again when an unpredictable women’s field comes to town for an International level WTA event at the Citi Open in Washington. With past champions like Magdalena Rybarikova and Yanina Wickmayer, well, almost anyone in the field stands a chance to make the semis or better. Except this year. The imposition of world #2 Simona Halep, a big name for an event of this grade, sharply increases the competition and diminishes the volatility of this field.
July 31-August 6, 2017
Washington D.C., USA
Prize Money: $250,000
Top 8 Seeds
1: Simona Halep (2)
2: Kristina Mladenovic (13)
Lauren Davis (34) eliminated
4: Julia Goerges (40)
5: Oceane Dodin (55)
6: Monica Niculescu (59)
7: Ekaterina Makarova (58)
8: Christina McHale (61)
With the exception of Halep, this is a typical International level field.
The world #2’s had an interesting and disappointing summer. Simona Halep had a chance to become the world #1 on her racquet but passed on the opportunity. However, opportunity knocks very loudly this summer as eight or more players have a chance to become #1 with massive points on the line in coming weeks in New Haven, Cincinnati and New York. Halep’s first round match will find her facing the not-yet-ready-for-primetime Sloane Stephens as she re-enters the workforce. The second round will find Halep beating the winner of Shelby Rogers or Mariana Duque-Marino. After that, Halep can expect Kate Makarova in the quarters. Makarova will have arrived there after a probable victory over qualifier, Louisa Chirico, who will defeat Monica Puig in the opening round. With the head to head 3-1 in favor of Halep, I would expect her into the semis in a close victory over Makarova. It’s a brutal draw for Makarova, who could have easily found her way to the late rounds in this field. Of course, no draw was more brutal than Stephens meeting up with Halep in round one.
2016 Citi Open Finalist Lauren Davis was eliminated in the first round before I was able to conclude my analysis. For now, the Davis quarter is the Dodin quarter. The Frenchwoman opens against Jelena Jankovic. I expect Dodin to defeat the veteran Serb and to beat Sara Errani in the second round. The loss of Davis could benefit Sabine Lisicki, who hasn’t played a lot of tennis this year. I expect Lisicki to defeat Davis’ vanquisher, Aryna Sabalenka, but Lisicki’s Washington tour could likely come to an end in the quarterfinals against Dodin, who has simply played more matches this year.
2015 Citi Open Doubles Champs Belinda Bencic & Kiki Mladenovic (Photo: Chris Levy @Tennis_Shots)
Kristina Mladenovic was toyed with like a mouse. The expectation was that she would be the tournament’s number one seed until a very fluid race opened up for world #1 and points became a scarce resource among the top echelon in the women’s game heading into the summer hard court series. Enter Halep. Even so, Mladenovic has had an excellent 2017 and looks to continue her ascent into the top ten. Kiki should dispatch Tatjana Maria in the first round, and I predict that she’ll face Kurumi Nara in the quarters. Nara will have to beat Andrea Petkovic, who is showing signs of slowing down her game and then a slight upset of Genie Bouchard in round two.
In the Goerges quarter, Julia Goerges is ever so slowly put patiently on the cusp of returning to a top 30 player after a high ranking of 15 in 2012. She won’t have a problem with young Canadian Francoise Abanda in round one and will attract the tricky Jana Cepelova in round two. Cepelova has played well in Washington and is always good for an upset–or two. Cepelova could give Goerges a little trouble, but I am going with the German to make it to the quarterfinals and beat Monica Niculescu to advance to the semis.
Niculescu, who hasn’t played Goerges in five years, split four matches in their prior meetings. Niculescu should dispatch Nao Hibino in the first round and Patricia Maria Tig in round two.
First round upsets yet to come:
Bouchard d. McHale
Chirico d. Puig
Halep will roll Dodin while Mladenovic will ease past Goerges.
Halep has been through far bigger mental and physical challenges than the Citi Open field this year. While she hasn’t exactly been at the top of her game, she should be able to hold off Mladenovic in an exciting three set affair to take the title in the town where the swamp never drains.
So there you have it. A very stable isotope of an event with semifinals of 1 vs. 5 and 2 vs. 4 and a 1 vs. 2 final. Don’t get used to it on the WTA tour.