Finalists Reaching for Greatness at Sunday Citi Open Finale
Steve Fogleman in Washington
Three finals are on tap at Citi Open in Washington today after somewhat surprising Saturday action brought us to this conclusion. Wild card Nick Kyrgios advanced to today’s final with a 7-6(4), 6-3 takedown of Mikael Ymer of Sweden.
He’s had a good run in Washington but didn’t want to get ahead of himself contemplating a title or two as he and partner Jack Sock advanced to the doubles final.
“Regardless of how tomorrow goes in both finals, I think it’s a hell of an achievement,” he said. “In one week I think to make both finals is pretty special. You know, I’m super excited. It’s been a minute since I have played in a final, Wimbledon final, so, you know, I’m gonna just try and turn it around and get a win tomorrow. I’m just super proud of the work I have put in.”
The Curious Case of Yoshihito Nishioka continues in Washington with consistent deft play. On Saturday night, he came out fast while Rublev was rusty in the first set. The second set saw Rublev give up four breaks of serve to Nishioka and #96 moved on over world #8 Rublev, 6-3, 6-4.
Kaia Kanepi raced out to a 3-0 lead within eight minutes of “Ready, Play!” and she dominated Daria Saville in the first women’s semifinal yesterday, 6-3, 6-1 in 1:13. Saville needed a medical timeout late in the first set and never had a chance to establish any rhythm in the match as Kanepi overpowered her and dominated the pace,
I would expect Kanepi to attempt a similar start today against Liudmila Samsonova. Both of the women’s semifinals were disappointingly uncompetitive yesterday. Samsonova’s semifinal victory was a 6-1, 6-1 exhibition against an out-of-sorts lucky loser Xiyu Wang in 1:07. Wang was the only women’s semifinalist who had not yet played a match on Stadium court and it showed. Still, it was a very good week for Wang, and for Daria Saville as well.
Here’s to today’s Citi Open champions and I’ll see you in Cincinnati.
Stormy Thursday Stops Citi Open Play; Double Dip of Pro Tennis Today, Weather Permitting
Steve Fogleman in Washington
Mother Nature took the win at Rock Creek Park in Washington on Thursday, with some afternoon matches and all evening contests postponed as raging winds, hail and rain buffeted the hard courts of the Citi Open. Earlier in the day in the oppressive heat, even the wins were sloppy.
Mikael Ymer was clearly exhausted after advancing to the quarterfinals in his victory over Emil Ruusuvuori, 6-3, 6-7(3), 6-4 in 2:18. After the match, Ymer rested in his player chair on court for several minutes with an ice pack and bugged-out eyes. Security hauled him to the locker room as quickly as they could. The slopfest found both men being broken on serve 14 times. Don’t talk to me about the WTA.
“On court I felt okay today, but conditions are very tough,” Ymer said. “I think we are playing one of the toughest sports on this planet, because besides dealing with the heat, you also have to constantly like make so many decisions.”
Emma Raducanu advanced to the quarterfinals is less-than-convincing fashion, struggling mightily against Camilia Osorio, 7-6(5), 7-6(4) in 2:50, with the #2 seed racking up 9 double faults in the process. But she was fighting against not just Osorio, but the looming storm.
“Yeah, I think first we were pretty lucky to get it done before it started chucking it down,” she said. “You always have that in your mind on the court, as well. You’re thinking of the rain, that’s going to come, because you see the clouds and it’s important not to let that affect you. You might want to rush things a bit.”
On a positive note, Liudmila Samsonova racked up 13 aces in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 comeback win from favorite Alja Tomljanovic on Stadium Court. Xiyu Wang is sitting pretty after securing a 4-6, 7-5, 6-1 victory over Donna Vekic shortly before the thunder rolled in. She’ll sit back and wait for Tereza Martincova and Vika Azarenka to wear themselves before taking on the winner in the quarterfinals set for this evening.
And yes, your Yoshihito Nishioka photo of the day is posted below. He keeps on rolling through his DC opponents, this time a nail-biting 7-6(2), 7-6(1) triumph over 7 seed Karen Khachanov. Yesterday’s winners are the luckiest of the draw, since they’ll need to play only one match today. And that’s a tall order since the weather forecast predicts rain to begin mid-afternoon at the venue.
Doing double duty today are the winners of Kyrgios and Opelka, Tiafoe and Van de Zandschulp, Dimitrov and Korda, Rublev and Kressy, Rune and Wolf and Martincova and Azarenka.
This could be a very long night of tennis, or we could see another double header tomorrow to try to fit the schedule in for finals on Sunday. There are also storms forecast for Saturday, so buckle up.
Wild Wednesday in Washington Whittles the Citi Open Field
Steve Fogleman in Washington
If you like upsets, you’d have loved Wednesday in Washington. The Citi Open has been full of surprises and the midweek edition of the tournament found many players on the outside looking in at what could have been.
First up was Emil Ruusuvuori, the scourge of English spell-checkers everywhere. #46 in the world as the tournament began, he shocked #2 seed Hubert Hurkacz 6-4, 7-6(3).
“The first set, I wasn’t returning that well, but at the end of the first set, I was making first serves and that helped me,” he said after the win. The win set him up with a match against Mikael Ymer for a spot in the quarterfinals.
Ymer crashed the party of 15 seed Aslan Karatsev with a turnaround three set victory, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 win on Grandstand court and earned a date with the cutest little kid dressed as Andre Agassi for Halloween. I mean Emil Ruusuvuori.
Yoshihoto Nishikori looked out of gas after his two set victory in the first round but the plucky Japanese player stuck around long enough to empty the tank of 11 seed Alex De Minaur 3-6, 7-6(6), 6-2. He’ll face 7 seed Karen Khachanov at noon and I wouldn’t look past Yoshi if I were De Minaur.
Simona Halep was forced to retire with heat related illness, and Daria Saville upset #1 seed Jessica Pegula, 7-5, 6-4. “You know, I felt like it was really, really important to win the first set,” Saville said. “I thought that, like, for me it would have been really hard to be composed in the second set if I lost the first set. I would have been like, Oh, my God, this is a struggle here.”
Her struggle and Halep’s departure opens a massive hole in the top half of the women’s draw. One of Either Saville, Anna Kalinskaya, Kaia Kanepi or qualifier Rebecca Marino will find themselves in the final this Sunday.
As we head to Quarterfinals Friday, there are four scheduled women’s singles matches to determine the four remaining quarters berths today, and eight matches to whittle the men’s field down to size.
Citi Open announces full preliminary player fields for its combined ATP/WTA event in Washington, D.C., July 30 – August 7, featuring Andy Murray, Simona Halep, Emma Raducanu, Taylor Fritz and more top talent
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Citi Open®, Washington, D.C.’s combined ATP/WTA professional tennis tournament, has released its preliminary player fields for this year’s event. The stacked competition includes three former World No. 1 players, six Grand Slam champions, four former Citi Open titlists, three Olympic gold medalists and 10 top 20 players. The 2022 Citi Open will be held July 30 – August 7 in Rock Creek Park.
Highlights from the main draws include:
Three Former World No. 1s: Andy Murray, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka
Six Grand Slam Champions: Andy Murray, Emma Raducanu, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka, Sloane Stephens, Sofia Kenin (WC)
Three Olympic Gold Medalists: Andy Murray (London & Rio de Janeiro, Singles), Andrey Rublev (Tokyo, Mixed Doubles), Victoria Azarenka (London, Mixed Doubles)
Four Former Citi Open Champions: Nick Kyrgios, Kei Nishikori (WC), Jessica Pegula, Sloane Stephens
Ten Top 20 Players: Andrey Rublev, Hubert Hurkacz, Taylor Fritz, Denis Shapovalov, Reilly Opelka, Jessica Pegula, Emma Raducanu, Leylah Fernandez, Simona Halep, Victoria Azarenka
Eight of the Top Nine American Men: Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Frances Tiafoe, Tommy Paul, Jenson Brooksby, Maxime Cressy, Sebastian Korda, Mackenzie McDonald
Six 2022 Wimbledon Quarterfinalists: David Goffin, Taylor Fritz, Nick Kyrgios, Simona Halep (semifinalist), Marie Bouzkova, Ajla Tomljanovic
“We are thrilled to share the terrific field of top men’s and women’s players we have lined up for the 2022 Citi Open. The draws will be filled by Grand Slam champions, former World No. 1s, past Citi Open winners, top 20 players and a few new and exciting faces making their tournament debuts,” said Mark Ein, Citi Open Chairman. “In less than a month, our fans will get the opportunity to watch these incredible, world-class athletes, who they follow around the globe, compete right here in the nation’s capital. It’s going to be another memorable week of tennis in Washington.”
The Citi Open is one of only five combined tennis tournaments in the country, featuring professional competition from both men and women. Citi Open’s ATP 500 event will showcase 48 singles players and 16 doubles teams. The revived WTA 250 tournament will feature 32 singles competitors and 16 doubles teams. Additional players will join the main draws via wild card entry, to be announced in the coming weeks.
Among the new players announced today are:
Andy Murray, Three-time Grand Slam Champion & Former World No. 1: Andy Murray holds 46 career titles, including the 2012 US Open title and 2013 and 2016 Wimbledon titles. He was the first player to win two Olympic gold medals and was the first British World No. 1 player. This season he reached the finals in Stuttgart and Sydney. Murray will compete in the Citi Open for the fourth time in 2022, where he was a finalist in 2006 and a quarterfinalist in 2018.
Hubert Hurkacz, World No. 10: Hubert Hurkacz recently captured his fifth ATP title in Halle. This season he reached the semifinals in Miami and Dubai and the quarterfinals in Madrid and Monte Carlo. In 2021, the 25-year-old won the title in Metz, Miami and Delray Beach and was also a semifinalist at Wimbledon.
Denis Shapovalov, World No. 16: Canadian Denis Shapovalov is currently ranked World No. 16. The 23-year-old has reached three quarterfinals this season, at the Australian Open and in Doha and Rome, and the semifinals in Dubai. He is a 2021 Wimbledon semifinalist and 2020 US Open quarterfinalist.
Karen Khachanov, World No. 22: KarenKhachanov is a four-time ATP champion and is currently ranked World No. 22. The 26-year-old reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2021 and Roland-Garros in 2019. This season, he was a finalist in Adelaide (International 1) and a semifinalist in Doha and Belgrade.
Holger Rune, World No. 29: Holger Rune will make his Citi Open debut in 2022. The 19-year-old
captured his maiden ATP title this season in Munich. He also found success at Roland-Garros, where he became the first Danish man to reach the tournament’s quarterfinal. He is the 2019 Roland-Garros boys’ singles champion.
Jenson Brooksby, World No. 33: American Jenson Brooksby will compete in the Citi Open for the second time in 2022, where he was a semifinalist last year. In 2021, he reached the fourth round of the US Open as a 20-year-old wild card, becoming the first American in the US Open’s fourth round since Andy Roddick in 2002. Brooskby was a finalist in Dallas this season.
Sebastian Korda, World No. 46: Sebastian Korda, the 22-year-old American, will compete in the Citi Open for the second time in 2022. This year marks 30 years since his father, Petr Korda, captured the Citi Open title in 1992. His 2022 season included a quarterfinal appearance in Delray Beach and a semifinal berth in Estoril.
Mackenzie McDonald, World No. 55: Mackenzie McDonald reached his first ATP final at the 2021 Citi Open, where he defeated former champions and 2022 contenders Nick Kyrgios and Kei Nishikori on the way to the final. This year will be his fourth time competing in D.C. The 27-year-old American was a quarterfinalist this season in Dubai.
Ajla Tomljanovic, World No. 44: AustralianAjla Tomljanovic will make her debut appearance at the Citi Open this summer. This season, the 29-year-old reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon and in Istanbul, Morocco and Nottingham. She was also a Wimbledon quarterfinalist in 2021.
Other notable player additions in the field include Maxime Cressy, David Goffin, Tommy Paul, Elise Mertens and Marie Bouzkova. Several players in the 2022 field have also found success in Washington in years past. In addition to the four former singles champions, the field includes 2018 finalist Alex de Minaur, 2018 semifinalist Andrey Rublev, 2019 semifinalist Anna Kalinskaya, 2018 finalist Donna Vekic and 2013 finalist and 2017 and ‘18 semifinalist Andrea Petkovic.
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.
And Then There Were Four: Citi Open Semifinals Feature Young Talent and One Kei Nishikori
Steve Fogleman in Washington
It’s been a week of upsets at the Citi Open in Washington all the way to the semifinals with only one seeded player remaining. I’m feeling that the upsets end today with two favorites advancing to tomorrow’s ATP 500 final.
Jenson Brooksby continued his march through Washington on Friday night by doing to John Millman what he’s been doing all week: baffle top talent. Asked if he is surprising other players, he said, “I don’t know exactly what goes through their minds. I’m not surprising myself, but I think — I mean, I think they, by now, people know what to expect in general, but, I mean, I think I still am surprising them.”
Should we add Jannik Sinner to the list of those who aren’t ready to beat Brooksby? Sinner’s aware of the threat. “I think he’s a very tricky player,” he said yesterday. “He is maybe in the best moment of his young, young career, you know, playing the best tennis. He is, yeah, in confidence.”
Sinner hits the practice courts after matches and skipped the Olympics in order to improve his game in time for the big US Open Series tournaments in August. I predict Brooksby’s amazing run through the top brass ends today on the racquet of the Italian.
Kei Nishikori flew in from Tokyo and did a lot of damage to his opponents all week. In prior editions of the Citi Open, Kei has been the superstar of this event and is a 2017 champion here. That’s why it seemed so strange this week as he practiced, played and won in an under-the-radar fashion thanks to the Rafa Effect. That jet lag is long gone which means Nishikori’s game is getting better every day.
“I was a little bit tired after coming from Japan,” he said in post-match press last night, “but I had a couple days’ rest. It wasn’t easy, obviously. I had only maybe three days or four days to play first match, but I able to manage, you know, fight through first couple rounds. Now I’m feeling good again.”
I’m picking Nishikori to advance to tomorrow’s final. We’ll see you then.
It’s Back to Business as a Normal ATP500 for @CitiOpen
Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
Well, the Rafael Nadal hangover is still around, if only for a day. After Nadal’s exit from the Citi Open in Washington last night, there’s a collective sense of loss and exhaustion from the electricity he brought to this ATP 500 event. However, there are eight excellent quarterfinal matches on tap today and storylines still abound.
Let’s stat with Denis Kudla. On Monday, he said that he’d underachieved in his career. Three wins later and Kudla is looking to make his first hometown tournament semifinal today. He went through a tortuous period from 2008-2017, where the DC local went 0-8 in qualifying and first round losses. To make his first ATP Tour final in DC would be a real silver lining for him and the Citi Open. After beating Brandon Nakashima, who’d been playing near perfect tennis, I predict that he will be the semifinalist from this All-American match.
Steve Johnson has been beating the odds all week, first by taking out tournament #3 seed Alex DeMinaur and following it up with a lights-out win over Ricardas Berankis yesterday. Today, he’ll face longer odds as he tries to unseat the highest remaining seeded player, #5 Jannik Sinner, to book his third Citi Open semifinal. That may be a tall order for Johnson, as Sinner looks unbeatable.
Jenson Brooksby continues to dazzle. Jenson’s July was only a pretext of what was to come here in Washington. He has knocked off #16 seed Tiafoe and #2 seed Felix Auger-Aliassime and today he faces #11 seed John Millman. Brooksby hasn’t dropped a set all week, but today I am predicting that Millman will end Brooksby’s impressive Citi Open run.
Finally, Kei Nishikori and Lloyd Harris square off for the last semifinal berth. This one is a big question mark as both players may begin to feel some exhaustion set in after last night’s three set wins. Harris looked great out there, but will there be a letdown coming off of his greatest win yet? Kei Nishikori, who has been the rockstar of Citi Opens past, is a bit of an under-the-radar player this week. That said, I’m going to tip his way to reach the semis.
Rafael Nadal’s comeback tour hit a speed bump tonight with a 4-6, 6-1, 4-6 nail biter with Lloyd Harris at the Citi Open ATP 500 in Washington. Harris was 1-5 against top 10 opponents with his best result against #4 Sascha Zverev, so it’s the biggest result of his singles career. After the match, Nadal said that his nagging foot pain felt better today and lamented that “the most painful thing is to not be able to be on court in front of this amazing crowd no?.”
We asked whether he was exhausted from last night’s incredible win over a motivated Jack Sock in three sets.
No way, he replied. “No, I was ready. The most positive thing is my foot was better today than yesterday, so that’s the best news possible. I played against a player that played well.”
“So that’s the sport. You can’t have mistakes in the key moments, and in the key moments I think in the last game, yeah, I was a little bit more nervous. My serve was not working the proper way. And that’s it. Yes, well done for him. Is a great victory for him. I wish him all the very best.”
2021 Citi Open Women’s Invitational Starts Tonight
WASHINGTON-AUGUST 5—Starting tonight, Coco Gauff, Victoria Azarenka and Jessica Pegula will compete in the Citi Open Women’s Invitational, a special, round-robin singles event as part of Citi Open week. Pegula and Gauff were crowned singles and doubles champions, respectively, in the WTA Tour’s 2019 Citi Open.
The inaugural champion will receive $25,000 in prize money. The Women’s Sports Foundation will be the beneficiary of the tournament and will receive a $50,000 donation from the Citi Open, Citi and the Mark and Sally Ein Foundation.
WTA No. 25; 2019 Citi Open women’s doubles champion; 5 WTA titles (2 singles, 3 doubles); 2021 French Open quarterfinalist
Current WTA No. 15; Former World No. 1; 30 WTA titles (21 singles, 9 doubles); 2012 and 2013 Australian Open winner; 2012, 2013 and 2020 U.S. Open finalist
2019 Citi Open women’s singles champion; Current WTA No. 28; 2021 Australian Open quarterfinalist
Thursday, August 5 (Following tonight’s. match on Stadium Court)
Coco Gauff vs. Victoria Azarenka
Friday, August 6 (Final day session match on Stadium Court)
Victoria Azarenka vs. Jessica Pegula
Saturday August 7 (Following 7 p.m. match on Stadium Court)
Coco Gauff vs. Jessica Pegula
The format is best of 3 sets, regular scoring, with a 10-point super-tiebreak to decide the third. The player with the best record will be crowned the champion. In the event of a tie, the champion will be decided by most sets, or if necessary, most games won.
It’s hard to bust through Nadal’s wild opening win in Washington last night, but many other players advanced to the Round of 16 yesterday at the Citi Open and they’re ready for battle today in what is traditionally the best day of this tournament. Eight singles matches will determine the warriors of the weekend with the right to claim an ATP 500 title.
American players are common at American events, and that should surprise no one. In recent years, though, most of them are knocked out in early rounds by higher-ranked international players. This year is different Of the 15 Americans in the draw, seven advanced to the third round – the most at the Citi Open since eight in 1993. You can’t ask for more than that as a local fan. and you still have a chance to see six Americans in the quarterfinals and guaranteed to have one American in there as countrymen Denis Kudla and Brandon Nakashima do battle today for one of those spots. Nakashima is 10-2 since July 19.
Other opening matches today include Steve Johnson against Ricardas Berankis and Next Gen stars Jannik Sinner taking on Sebastian Korda, who are collectively aged 40 years.
Late afternoon matches feature Kei Nishikori against Cameron Norrie, Reilly Opelka facing off against John Millman, and another Next Gen showdown with a pair of 20-year-olds: #2 seed Felix Auger Aliassime and Jenson Brooksby. Ilya Ivashka and Mackenzie McDonald will fight for a quarterfinal berth in the early evening match before all eyes turn to Stadium Court for Rafael Nadal and Lloyd Harris, the #14 seed.