August 12, 2022

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Washington never puts its best foot forward in August, but it’s the eternal spot on the ATP calendar for the Citi Open. And that ensures that players have to fight not only the opponent through the net, but also sweltering heat, sweltering humidity and stoppages due to late summer thunderstorms.

A second straight afternoon of rain on Friday further compressed the already overdue tournament schedule and inconvenienced ticket holders, shutting down the grassy stretch just north of the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center which also serves as a parking lot as it was too waterlogged for cars.

Until thunder and lightning stopped play at 4:32 p.m., just over four hours of matches had been played. Around this time, the men’s and women’s quarter-finals were determined as more seeds dropped, including American Reilly Opelka and Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov, and a few upstarts were surprised.

The unwelcome stoppage of play, which lasted nearly three hours, delayed proceedings and led tournament officials to explore options to crown a men’s and women’s winner on Sunday as planned.

At the Citi Open, it’s grind and survive in the heat of a DC summer

This may mean staging the quarter-finals and semi-finals on Saturday and, if necessary, starting Saturday’s matches before noon as announced.

Had Friday’s weather cooperated, half a dozen players would have had to compete twice anyway – first to finish third-round matches in the rain from Thursday and again to play quarter-final matches. final.

Nick Kyrgios, the 2019 tournament champion, was scheduled to play three times on Friday. First, he needed to complete his third-round match against fourth-seeded Opelka. Assuming he won that game, as he did, Kyrgios was set to play his quarter-final against Hyattsville native Frances Tiafoe, who also mopped up a rain-interrupted game from Wednesday, ousting the eighth. seeded Botic van de Zandschulp. Finally, Kyrgios was due to return for a nightcap on Friday with his doubles partner Jack Sock against the French tandem of Nicolas Mahut and Édouard Roger-Vasselin.

For some players, the heat and hassle of Washington proved too much.

In a late night Posting on TwitterAmerican Taylor Fritz explained why he pulled out of his third-round match at the height of Wednesday’s heat when he trailed Briton Dan Evans 1-4 in the third set, referring to an undisclosed foot injury which he said had limited his training since Wimbledon.

“Generally I’m proud of my fitness and my ability to compete in very hot/humid and brutal conditions like today,” Fritz wrote. “…Today I constantly felt like I was going to pass out, my vision was getting blurry, and the only thing that can really prepare me to play in these conditions…is to play in these conditions, something I just couldn’t do while nursing my foot.

Other players say going through the Citi Open in Washington makes them stronger, even if they lose. That was the view of Opelka, 24, after their loss to Kyrgios.

The 6-foot-11 Opelka, who boasts the biggest serve in men’s tennis, faced the unenviable task Friday of recovering from a 6-7 (7-1), 1-2 deficit against Kyrgios, whose own service is a blast to be feared.

After a night sleeping over their unfinished business, Opelka and Kyrgios made their way to Stadium Court around 2.30pm. The first point was not in the direction of Opelka, and suddenly he lost Love-40 on his serve. Kyrgios burst out and didn’t look back, needing just 14 minutes to close out the turbulent proceedings 7-6(1), 6-2, finishing with 12 aces to Opelka’s 13.

Nonetheless, Opelka called their two matches at this year’s Citi Open valuable experience.

“I hadn’t played much [hard-court] games,” Opelka said, “so that’s a starting point for the hard-court season for me. This is a critical step. The humidity, the weather, the heat – it’s great preparation for the US Open because that’s what happens in New York.

Defending US Open champion Emma Raducanu, 19, is still alive in her Citi Open debut and was set to face Liudmila Samsonova on Friday night in the quarter-finals. Raducanu said she continues to believe in his tenacity and determination after withstanding a nearly three-hour match against Camila Osorio on Thursday.

Calling his effort “quite monumental” to fight back for the 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-4) victory over Osorio, Raducanu said: “It just gives you a lot of confidence in a game like this. Physically, I’m pretty happy with how I held up in this game.

Among the top 10 men’s seeds, only two qualified for the quarter-finals: top seed Andrey Rublev, who ousted American Maxime Cressy, 6-4, 7-6 (10-8), and the 10th seed Tiafoe.

Among the top seeds who joined Opelka in the loss on Friday were Dimitrov, who was beaten by American Sebastian Korda, 4-6, 6-1, 6-2; Van de Zandschulp, seeded eighth, fell to Tiafoe, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3; and Denmark’s ninth-seeded Holger Rune, introduced by wildcard JJ Wolf, a former Big Ten player of the year who went 35-2 as a junior at Ohio State in the greater surprise of the day. Wolf advanced, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3.

Tiafoe and Van de Zandschulp twice tried to complete their third-round match on Thursday before rain suspended play for the night at one set apiece.

“Yesterday was more difficult than today,” Van de Zandschulp said after his defeat on Friday. “You go on and off the pitch; you are not sure after the second [delay] if you are going to finish the game. You need to watch what you eat between delays to maintain enough energy and be ready to hit the court at all times. It’s pretty hard, matches like that.