CITI OPEN What the Title Would Mean for the Top Six Seeds
A title win at the ATP 500 Citi Open is a big opportunity for one of the contenders to get some valuable confidence going into the bigger ATP 1000 events and then the US Open. The Tennis Review looks at what the trophy would mean to the top six seeds.
Dominic Thiem (1)
Thiem has already won two ATP 500 titles, one on hard courts in Acapulco in 2016, and one in Rio, on clay, this season.
The Austrian has not won a title since Rio but had a great European clay court showing, reaching the Barcelona and Madrid finals and the Roland Garros semis.
The world No. 7 was not the favorite to win those big clay titles, losing to Rafa Nadal and Novak Djokovic, but, this week, he is the top seed and if he can win in Washington, it would mean he can handle the pressure of being the leading player at an ATP 500 event with ten of the world’s top 20 in the draw.
Handling the pressure of life at the top of tennis is something Thiem needs to work on, as we have seen from the letdowns he suffers when he faces two elite players in a row (versus Djokovic in Rome, Nadal in Paris), so a Washington win might help him believe he really does deserve to be up there with the best of them, a feeling that will come in handy with the US Open just three weeks away.
Draw: (Last 16 onward) Kevin Anderson, Gael Monfils, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori.
Chances: Hard courts are not Thiem’s best surface and while he may be the top seed, this draw is full of players with better hard court games and more experience at winning in 500 fields. If Thiem did manage to win the Citi Open beating some of the big names here, it would be very impressive indeed.
Gael Monfils (6)
Monfils won his, so far, one and only 500 event at the Citi Open last year, beating Ivo Karlovic in the final, and went on to reach the US Open semis.
This season, injuries have meant Monfils has not been able to build on that progress, but the Frenchman announced after Wimbledon he was feeling positive when it came to his health.
If Monfils did repeat his Citi Open 2016 success this year, it would be the first time he defended a title.
Draw: Mischa Zverev, Dominic Thiem, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori
Chances: Quite a good draw for Monfils. If he makes the final, Sascha Zverev or Kei Nishikori might be a tough ask, but he would have a good chance against most of the other potential opponents to cut down his 6-20 finals deficit.
Alexander Zverev (5)
Zverev hit a career high ranking of 8 this week and is the only player in the draw with an ATP 1000 trophy (he’s not the most decorated player in the draw, though- that status belongs to slam champion Juan Martin del Potro).
The 20 year old is now the leading player of the #NextGenATP and if he wins the title, he would pull even further away from the chasing pack of Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric, Hyeon Chung and company.
An ATP 500 title added to his collection (three titles) would mean the only classification missing would be a slam, and if he can keep having confidence boosting runs through big tournament draws, that slam breakthrough could really gather some momentum.
Draw: Nick Kyrgios, Grigor Dimitrov, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem
Chances: Zverev’s draw looks tough on paper, but Kyrgios has been injured, Dimitrov is so inconsistent, Nishikori has been injured and hard is not Thiem’s best surface so Zverev has a nice chance here to cement his top ten status.
Kei Nishikori (2)
Hello Washington! Last landed. Excited to be back at the @CitiOpen!
— Kei Nishikori (@keinishikori) July 30, 2017
Wild card Nishikori is working his way back from injury and his results have been mixed the last few months- a quarter final run at Roland Garros and a retirement in the Halle last 16 and a Wimbledon last 32 defeat to Roberto Bautista Agut.
Hard courts are a better surface for Nishikori than Grass, however, and the Japanese has plenty of good memories of American Summer hard courts with a Citi Open title in 2015, a run to the 2014 US Open finals and a run to the semis in NYC last season.
If Nishikori can reach the Citi Open’s later stages, that would be very encouraging. If he won the title, it would mean Nishikori had some form and much needed confidence going, but the Japanese is so injury prone a Citi Open win would mean little for his long term chances at the US Open.
Draw: Juan Martin del Potro, Lucas Pouille, Grigor Dimitrov, Dominic Thiem
Chances: This is a tough draw for Nishikori, but he is one of the most skilled hard court players in this draw and if he can produce his best form he can beat whoever is on the other side of the net.
Milos Raonic (3)
Milos Raonic has taken a wild card into the event he won in 2014. The Canadian has been setback by injuries since reaching last year’s Wimbledon final and has dropped from a career high ranking of 3 reached at the end of 2016 to his current ranking of 10.
Raonic has not competed in Washington since he won the ’14 title so with no points to defend, if he won the title, he could start climbing back up the rankings again. A win would also give the Canadian some much needed confidence to help him have another go in New York at winning that all important first slam trophy.
Draw: Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem
Chances: Raonic is one of the best hard court players in the draw- if he is healthy, he can take a second Citi Open title.
Grigor Dimitrov (4)
In the last year, Dimitrov has shown us what he can do on hard courts, reaching the last four of Cincy (lost to Cilic), winning Brisbane (beating Thiem, Raonic and Nishikori on the way), and reaching the Australian Open Semis (lost to Nadal).
Dimitrov struggled on the slower hard courts in the US Spring swing and on the European clay courts (though he did contest one of the best clay court matches of the season in the faster Madrid conditions versus Thiem) before showing some better form at Queens and Wimbledon, reaching the semis and the last sixteen, losing to eventual champions Feliciano Lopez and Roger Federer.
A Washington title would be the second ATP 500 title of Dimitrov’s career (won Acapulco ’14) and with the US Open three weeks away, Dimitrov would have plenty of time to keep building on his confidence going into the season’s last slam where he has twice been to the last sixteen (2014, 2016).
Draw: Steve Johnson, Sascha Zverev, Kei Nishikori, Dominic Thiem
Chances: Dimitrov beat Johnson, Thiem and Nishikori on his way to the Brisbane title, so it all depends on which Dimitrov shows up- the one who won Brisbane or the one who lost to Dan Evans in his Citi Open 2016 opening match.
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