Scouting Report: Nadal & Felix Lead The Way In Washington
Some of tennis’ biggest talents are set to compete In Washington, D.C. this week at the Citi Open. Leading the way is Spanish star Rafael Nadal, who is making his debut at the ATP 500 hard-court event.
Before play begins, ATPTour.com looks at 10 things to watch in Washington.
1) Nadal Debut: Nadal is making his debut in Washington and will headline the field as the top seed. The 35-year-old wild card will be aiming to capture an 89th tour-level title in the United States’ capital. The legendary lefty has already lifted trophies this season in Barcelona and Rome. It will be Nadal’s first tournament since he reached the Roland Garros semi-finals in June, and he will play American Jack Sock or Japanese lefty Yoshihito Nishioka in his opener.
2) Felix In Form: #NextGenATP star Auger-Aliassime arrives in Washington on the back of a strong grass-court season. The 20-year-old reached his eighth ATP Tour final at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart and advanced to his first Grand Slam quarter-final at Wimbledon. The Canadian suffered a surprise loss to Australian Max Purcell in the first round at the Tokyo Olympics, but will hope to return to winning ways as he makes his second appearance at this ATP 500 event. In 2019, Auger-Aliassime made the Round of 16 in Washington.
3) Former Champs Kyrgios & Nishikori Return: Defending champion Nick Kyrgios and 2015 titlist Kei Nishikori will compete here again. Kyrgios went on a memorable run to the Citi Open trophy two years ago, when he saved a match point against Stefanos Tsitsipas in the semi-finals and beat Daniil Medvedev in the final. The Australian will open against home favourite Mackenzie McDonald.
Nishikori is fresh off a quarter-final showing at the Tokyo Olympics, where he defeated World No. 7 Andrey Rublev in the first round. The Japanese star, who has made at least the quarter-finals in his past four Washington appearances, will begin his campaign against American Sam Querrey in the first round.
4) American Contingent: With qualifying still to be completed, there are already 13 Americans in the Washington main draw, with eighth seed Reilly Opelka leading the way. Three other seeded players are competing at home in the United States capital: 10th seed Taylor Fritz, 12th seed Korda, and 16th seed Frances Tiafoe.
Three of the tournament’s wild cards went to Americans: #NextGenATP stars Brandon Nakashima and Jenson Brooksby as well as Sock. Nakashima has made back-to-back finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta, while Brooksby advanced to his maiden tour-level championship match in Newport.
5) Korda Flying: Korda, who trained with his idol Nadal on Saturday evening, is making his debut at the ATP 500 tournament. The 21-year-old has broken new ground this year, winning a maiden ATP Tour title in Parma in May and advancing to the fourth round at Wimbledon. Currently No. 47 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, one spot below his career-high of No. 46, Korda could face Sinner in the third round. He has enjoyed success in the United States, having made his first tour-level final this year in Delray Beach and battling to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final in Miami.
Photo Credit: Peter Staples/Citi Open
6) Will Sinner Return To Winning Ways? #NextGenATP Italian Sinner is the fifth seed in Washington on his debut at the ATP 500 event. The 19-year-old in March became just the fourth teenager to reach the Miami Open presented by Itau final, but he arrives in Washington aiming to snap a four-match losing streak. The fifth seed, who was victorious at the Great Ocean Road Open in Melbourne earlier this year, will play Emil Ruusuvuori or a qualifier in the second round.
7) Former Finalist De Minaur: Australia’s De Minaur will return to Washington with fond memories after enjoying a run to the 2018 final, in which he fell to German Alexander Zverev. That was De Minaur’s second ATP Tour final, and his second defeat in a championship match. Since, he has claimed five tour-level titles.
The third seed will be competing in his first event on hard courts since the Miami Open presented by Itau in March. De Minaur is in the same section of the draw as Auger-Aliassime.
8) Dimitrov Is Back: Fourth seed Dimitrov is playing in Washington for the sixth time, but this is his first appearance since 2017. The Bulgarian will be looking to capture his first ATP Tour title since triumphing at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals. The 30-year-old will face either Egor Gerasimov or Ilya Ivashka in his opening match at this tournament, where he made the quarter-finals in 2013.
9) Can Norrie Keep Winning? Briton Cameron Norrie arrives in Washington having captured his first ATP Tour trophy one week ago at the Mifel Open in Los Cabos. The lefty has claimed 36 tour-level wins this season, rising to a career-high No. 29 in the FedEx ATP Rankings. The 25-year-old will begin against Marcos Giron or a qualifier and could meet Nadal in the quarter-finals.
10) Peers/Polasek Lead Doubles Field: Australian-Slovakian tandem John Peers and Filip Polasek are the top seeds in the doubles field. This will be their team debut. Peers, who won an bronze medal in the mixed doubles (w/Barty) at the Tokyo Olympics, and Polasek will face Australians De Minaur and John Millman in the first round.
Briton Neal Skupski and New Zealand’s Michael Venus are the second seeds, Indian Rohan Bopanna and Croatian Ivan Dodig are seeded third and South African Raven Klaasen and Japan’s Ben McLachlan are the fourth seeds. Sinner and Korda will compete together, as will Kyrgios and Tiafoe.