Nadal’s Road To US Open Will Start At Citi Open

Rafael Nadal (photo: @CitiOpen/Twitter)

WASHINGTON, July 9, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

Rafael Nadal will make his Washington, D.C. debut this summer at the 2021 Citi Open, tournament officials announced Thursday.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion from Spain, currently ranked World No. 3, will be playing in his first tournament since losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinals at Roland-Garros last month.

“I am very excited to come to Washington for the first time,” Nadal said in a press release. “I have never been there and it’s one more place I wanted to come and play. I am looking forward to playing again and Washington shall be the best start for the US Summer Swing for me. Looking forward to seeing again my US fans that I haven’t seen since I won the 2019 US Open.”

Mark Ein, chairman of the Citi Open and chief executive of MDE Tennis, which took over control of the tournament in 2019, said in a statement: “We are thrilled to welcome Rafael Nadal, who is not just one of the greatest tennis players of all-time, but also a global sporting icon and inspiring role model to our Washington community this summer. I can’t imagine a better way to celebrate the joyous return of the things we cherish like live sports, coming together as a community and our historic event than having Rafa and the rest of our very deep and exciting player field competing for the Citi Open title.”

The Citi Open, Washington’s summer tradition, returns for its 52nd year with qualifying beginning on July 31 and the main draw running from Aug. 2-8. In Nadal’s Citi Open debut, he will contend with what is shaping up to be a very deep field for this ATP 500-series hard court event at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in northwest Washington, which takes place four weeks before the start of the US Open in New York.

In recent days, the tournament has received commitments from Wimbledon semifinalists Denis Shapovalov and Hubert Hurkacz as well as Wimbledon quarterfinalists Felix Auger-Aliassime and Karen Khachanov. Also, the field currently includes: Americans Sebastian Korda, John Isner, Taylor Fritz, Reilly Opelka, Sam Querrey and Frances Tiafoe. Among the international players entered are: defending 2019 champion Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov, Cameron Norrie, Alex de Minaur, Aslan Karatsev and Jannik Sinner, and former Citi Open champions Milos Raonic (2014) and Kei Nishikori (2015).

Additionally, according to Ein, the Citi Open still has five wild cards remaining to be announced before and during the Tokyo Summer Olympics.

The Citi Open will also include an inaugural Citi Open Women’s Invitational, which will showcase Americans Coco Gauff, Jennifer Brady and Jessica Pegula, all who are scheduled to represent the United States in the Summer Olympics, plus a fourth player to be named. They will compete in a series of singles and doubles matches Aug. 5-7.

According to the tournament, under pandemic guidelines set by the U.S. Park Service, which owns the property that Rock Creek Park Tennis Center sits on, it will be allowed to have spectators at 50 percent of capacity. Last year’s Citi Open was canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.