WASHINGTON, July 19, 2019 (by Michael Dickens)
A very competitive women’s field at the Citi Open that already includes Americans Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys just got better with news that Wimbledon breakout star Cori “Coco” Gauff will make her first post-Wimbledon appearance at the WTA International event at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Washington, D.C., beginning July 27.
Gauff will join a list of current and rising stars that includes the 2017 U.S. Open champion Stephens and 2017 U.S. Open finalist Keys, both currently ranked in the WTA Top 20, as well as Indian Wells champion Bianca Andreescu from Canada, American No. 5 Sofia Kenin, Top 20 star Belinda Bencic of Switzerland and Wimbledon semifinalist Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic.
The 15-year-old American sensation Gauff captured worldwide attention earlier this month when she became the youngest woman in the Open Era to gain a berth in the Wimbledon main draw through qualifying, then beat five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams in the first round en route to her impressive fourth-round finish. She became the youngest player since 1991 to advance to the round of 16, where she lost to the eventual champion Simona Halep from Romania.
Gauff, who has signed up for the qualifying tournament to reach the main draw of the Citi Open, awaits a potential spot with the hopes of winning two matches to advance to the main draw, which runs from July 29-August 4. Because the entry list was finalized prior to Wimbledon, she must use her pre-Wimbledon ranking (No. 313) for entry into the qualifying draw, which will be announced at 4 p.m. on July 26. Gauff is currently ranked No. 141.
Regardless of whether she makes the cutoff for the qualifying draw, Gauff will be part of the tournament’s festivities. She will practice at the tournament site, participate in a fan event July 27, host the Citi Open Kids’ Day powered by Net Generation on July 28 and take part in a practice match on the Stadium Court at Rock Creek Tennis Center the same day.
“Coco’s story is a perfect fit with the history and mission of our tournament and, as potentially the next great American star, she also embodies our future and our re-imagination of this storied tennis event,” said Mark Ein, MDE Tennis chairman, who took over management rights for the Citi Open earlier this year. “Coco’s fairytale run at Wimbledon captured the hearts of fans worldwide and Washington, D.C. cannot wait to hits her first post-Wimbledon tennis appearance back in the United States at the Citi Open. We hope she gets into the qualifying, but if not, we will provide our community and her fans a great opportunity to meet her and watch her play and practice as she prepares for the U.S. Open.”
Because of age restrictions on the WTA tour, Gauff must enter the Citi Open through the qualifying tournament. As a 15-year-old player, she’s eligible to compete in up to 14 WTA or ITF Pro Circuit tournaments. After receiving three wild card entries earlier this year, Gauff is not eligible to accept any additional wild cards into WTA or ITF Pro Circuit events until her 16th birthday next March under WTA age eligibility rules.
The young star was quoted by the Washington Post as saying “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to be in front of American fans in our nation’s capital at the Citi Open. The last few weeks have been amazing and I’m excited about coming to Washington, D.C., to connect with all the fans, especially the young kids, who have been giving me so much support this summer. Hopefully I will also have the opportunity to keep this momentum going on the court starting at the Citi Open straight through the U.S. Open.”
Citi Open notes
Main draw play for the Citi Open begins on July 29 and continues through August 4 with both the men’s and women’s championship finals. The men’s ATP 500 tournament features World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 7 Kei Nishikori of Japan, No. 8 Karen Khachanov of Russia, and No. 11 Kevin Anderson from South Africa as well as Americans John Isner and Frances Tiafoe, both ranked in the Top 50.
Tickets for the qualifying draw matches on July 27-28 start at $15. Tickets for the main draw sessions start at $25. Tickets can be purchased at www.CitiOpenTennis.com.