(August 1, 2013) WASHINGTON, DC – Juan Del Potro closed out two ATP tour matches in six hours on Thursday. Not too shabby for the man that everyone was worried about when he took that big spill during his match with Novak Djokovic at Wimbledon last month. His first victim was Ryan Harrison, 6-1, 7-5. Then, it was it was Bernard Tomic, 6-3, 6-3.
Kei Nishikori also had to play two matches in even less time, but he couldn’t physically recover after knocking out Jack Sock 7-5, 6-2. He was a shell of his 2 o’ clock self in the nightcap, bowing out to Marcos Baghdatis 6-1, 6-2 in 58 minutes.
I am confounded by the dilemma that tournament organizers face in such rain delays. On the one hand, they want to showcase the top seeded players in prime time, meaning that they play late.
On the other hand, they not so secretly hope that the big names go deep in the tournament. So when you make a Kei Nishikori or a Del Potro play at 9:00 p.m., the chances are greater that their match is going to be postponed by weather than a player who starts at 2:00 or 4:00 p.m.
That’s the gamble you take. And the Citi Open was 1 for 2 today.
Del Potro pulled it off, but it was almost asking the impossible and Nishikori did not possess those same superpowers tonight. Look at Andrea Petkovic. She was the only singles player at the Citi Open to get a win on Wednesday, and she played at 2:00 p.m. Imagine how much better Nishikori would have done against Baghdatis tonight if he had the amount of rest that Petkovic had last night and this afternoon.
It was no small miracle that rain did not interrupt today’s matches today, whose order of play was cobbled together to compensate for yesterday’s almost-total rainout. Grey clouds threatened almost the entire session on Thursday, and there were rumbles of distant thunder throughout and a few lonesome drops. In fact, I checked the weather radar on my I-phone at one point, and it showed light rain all over the Washington area. Somehow, the tennis gods decided to give the Citi Open a break. A washout today would have almost guaranteed another crazy day on Friday and could have forced Monday Finals. And this isn’t the US Open, folks. A Monday Final for both the ATP and WTA titles would’ve been….crickets, both in terms of attendance and television ratings.
Marinko Matosevic shocked many by sending Milos Raonic home to Canada a little earlier than he’d expected before Rogers Cup. Matosevic won 7-5, 6-2. In a one on one interview after the match, he said “I don’t know if it’s the biggest win of my career, but it is definitely a big win beating Milos in a big tournament like Washington.” Later, he added, “I think I’m going in the right direction. I want to make that next push, not just to get back to my ranking (No. 39 in February), but seeded at the Slams and try to get to top 30 this year”.
Kevin Anderson finished off James Duckworth 6-3, 3-6, 6-4 from a match that was 99% complete on Wednesday night. He later beat Mardy Finish in the 3rd round by a count of 7-6(2), 6-1.
Tommy Haas pulled a similar move, completing a nearly-over match against Tim Smyczek, 3-6, 7-5, 6-3 and later advancing to the quarterfinals over Ivan Dodig, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2.
Grigor Dimitrov also made the quarters in a surpisingly easy 6-3, 6-3 victory against Sam Querrey. Later, Dmitry Turnsonov eliminated 2011 Champion Radek Stepanek 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.
And BB&T Atlanta Open Champion John Isner advanced 7-5, 7-5 over a plucky Somdev Devvarman.
In WTA action, top seed Angelique Kerber overcame early difficulties to sweep Melanie Oudin, 7-5, 6-0.
Defending Champ Magdalena Rybarikova squeaked through to the quarters by the seat of her pants against fellow Slovakian Jana Cepolova, 7-5, 5-7, 7-5 in an affair that lasted nearly three hours. Cepelova is always a tough out. Rybarikova beat Cepelova last year in the Citi Open quarterfinals en route to the title.
Like Rybarikova, Monica Niculescu nearly snatched defeat from the jaws of victory over tenacious Madison Keys, 6-1, 2-6, 7-6(6).
In yet another exciting match, Sorana Cirstea prevailed against Alison Riske of recent grass court success and new Washington-area resident Alison Riske, 3-6, 6-2, 6-3.
Ekaterina Makarova simply destroyed Caroline Garcia of France, 6-2, 6-0 in 58 minutes and Monica Niculescu,
And Alize Cornet had a work-woman-like win over Heather Watson, 6-4, 6-4.
Friday’s quarterfinals are split into two sessions. It’s like a day-night doubleheader in baseball with a big difference. Like the US Open, they don’t clear out the venue before the evening session. And the only ticketed court at the venue is Stadium Court. And all of the matches on Stadium tomorrow are men’s quarterfinals. That means fans can catch two of the ATP quarters with a day session ticket, and stay late for two women’s quarterfinals, not to mention the doubles matches on outer courts.
The Friday Day session has Tursunov against Matosevic at 1:00 p.m. on Stadium Court, followed by Isner and Baghdatis not before 4:00 p.m. The Night session begins at 7:00 p.m. with Tommy Haas and Grigor Dimitrov and concludes with Del Potro versus Anderson not before 9:15.
The women are back to back to back to back on Grandstand 1 from 1:00 p.m., with Petkovic/Ormaechea, Cirstea/Cornet, Makarova/Niculescu and concluding with Kerber/Rybarikova.
CITI OPEN – WASHINGTON, DC, USA
USD 1,546,590.00 (ATP)
USD 235,000.00 (WTA)
JULY 27 – AUGUST 04, 2013
ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, AUGUST 02, 2013
STADIUM COURT start 1:00 pm
D Tursunov (RUS) vs M Matosevic (AUS) – ATP
Not Before 4:00 PM
 J Isner (USA) vs  M Baghdatis (CYP) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
 T Haas (GER) or  I Dodig (CRO) vs  G Dimitrov (BUL) – ATP
Not Before 9:15 PM
 [WC] J Del Potro (ARG) vs  K Anderson (RSA) – ATP
GRANDSTAND 1 start 1:00 pm
A Petkovic (GER) vs P Ormaechea (ARG) – WTA
 S Cirstea (ROU) vs  A Cornet (FRA) – WTA
 E Makarova (RUS) vs M Niculescu (ROU) – WTA
 [WC] A Kerber (GER) vs  M Rybarikova (SVK) – WTA
G Dimitrov (BUL) / M Llodra (FRA) vs [WC] S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA) or  A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) – ATP-After Suitable Rest
GRANDSTAND 2 start 1:00 pm
 S Aoyama (JPN) / V Dushevina (RUS) vs M Alvarez Teran (BOL) / K Wong (USA) – WTA
E Bouchard (CAN) / T Townsend (USA) vs  I Falconi (USA) / E Hrdinova (CZE) – WTA
J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) or [WC] J Blake (USA) / E Butorac (USA) – ATP
 A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) or A Begemann (GER) / R Bopanna (IND) vs T Huey (PHI) / D Inglot (GBR) – ATP