Citi Open Shaping Up To Be Stronger Than Usual

WASHINGTON, July 20, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Defending champion Nick Kyrgios of Australia is missing from the provisional draw that was recently revealed for the ATP 500 Citi Open, which re-starts the ATP Tour next month after being sidelined by the novel coronavirus pandemic since March. However, last year’s finalistDaniil Medvedev from Russia, is confirmed and is the provisional top seed. Half of the Top 20 and 18 from the Top 30 are listed as entered in what is shaping up to be a stronger than usual field.

Assuming most if not all are able to safely arrive in the nation’s capital in time to play, this year’s Citi Open at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in northwest Washington, D.C., should provide for some healthy competition – even if this year’s tournament in all likelihood will be played behind closed doors. However, the lack of international participation may be attributed to the overall failure of the United States to effectively contain the coronavirus compared to other countries throughout the world. On Monday, rumors began circulating that the Citi Open might have to cancel because of difficulty with players traveling to and from the United States due to current European Union travel restrictions.

Besides the World No. 5 Medvedev, the provisional list includes World No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, who reached last year’s semifinals before bowing to Kyrgios. Also, there’s No. 10 David Goffin of Belgium, No. 12 Roberto Bautista Agut of Spain, No. 13 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 15 Karen Khachanov of Russia, No. 16 Denis Shapovalov of Canada, No. 18 Cristian Garin of Chile and No. 20 Felix Auger-Aliassime from Canada.

In a recent interview with Tennis Majors’ Simon Cambers, Mark Ein, chairman of the Citi Open, called this year’s sign-ups “amazing.” He said: “Right now everyone can get here, it’s just quarantine issues and getting back. One of the real virtues of where we are is there are three international airports in Washington, and then you can just drive to New York, or take a train – it’s just a three-and-a-half-hour drive. For players coming from the States or overseas, coming to Washington is kind of as easy as getting to New York and then getting to New York is easy. I think what people are thinking is that if you’re going to play the two New York events (Western & Southern Open and US Open), it seems hard to imagine that it wouldn’t make sense after six months off to come here and do this.”

Ferro wins 10 of 10 at FFT Challenge Elite

French No. 3 Fiona Ferro (ranked No. 53) has strung together 10 consecutive wins in the FFT Challenge Elite exhibition tournament. This week in Cannes, Ferro once again defeated French No. 1 Kristina Mladenovic (ranked No. 42) to come out the overall winner.

Clijsters taking WTT by surprise

Hall of Famer Kim Clijsters, who earlier this year came out of retirement for the second time, has been taking World TeamTennis by surprise. Playing for the New York Empire, Clijsters has gone undefeated playing both women’s singles and mixed doubles with Neal Skupski. After the first week of the compressed three-week season, Clijsters has identical 5-0 win-loss records in women’s singles and mixed doubles. She’s also been an inspiration to her teammates.

According to Jack Sock, Clijsters’ teammate, “Her wisdom, her knowledge out there is amazing. Having her back there in the back of the court with you, pumping you up, is definitely extra special. She’s a legend in the game, but we don’t want to say that yet because she’s still playing, still balling out.”

Dark horse to win the US Open? How about Berrettini?

Racquet’s Giri Nathan explains World No. 8 Matteo Berrettini’s breakout season and why the Italian is the dark horse to win the US Open next month in an essay published over the weekend:

Behind the scenes with Tennis United …

Bethanie Mattek-Sands has become the face of tennis during the sport’s coronavirus pandemic lockdown. Tennis.com goes behind the scenes with the Tennis United co-host.

… Russian week on Tennis United

What they’re writing

Scot Spits, Sydney Morning Herald, sports writer, from “Australian tennis stars weigh up trick New York decision”:

Australia’s second-highest-ranked male player, Nick Kyrgios, has been a fervent critic of the USTA’s plans to forge ahead with the New York major amid the global coronavirus pandemic, also lambasting some of the world’s best players for not taking the health crisis seriously and for various COVID-19 protocol breaches.

While Australia’s world No.1 Ashleigh Barty is yet to commit to travelling to the United States – the French Open champion has stressed that her own health and that of her team will take priority – 2011 women’s champion Sam Stosur and 2018 quarter-finalist John Millman are among the Australian players weighing up the pros and cons of joining the international playing contingent at Flushing Meadows. Rising Australian Alexei Popyrin, who is based in Europe, won’t be travelling to the United States.

What they’re podcasting

On the latest Match Point Canada podcast, host Mike McIntyre interviews former player turned broadcaster Daniela Hantuchova, who shares “great tips for new reporters to get the most out of their interviews.”

What they’re sharing on social media

Elise Mertens / Sunday morning with Loeka. 

Sloane Stephens / Wear a mask.

Elina Svitolina / When the weekend didn’t go as you imagined it.