Second seed Felix Auger-Aliassime rallied past Andreas Seppi 2-6, 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. The win was a bit of Revenge for the Canadian who lost to the Italian in the first round of the French Open.
“I think first I allowed myself to play a bad first set, even though it’s never great to start a match like this, to start a tournament like this,” noted the 20-year-old Canadian. “But in my mind I wanted to find a way to come back.
“I think to get that early break and to kind of get the lead in the second set helped me a lot. I think I served a little bit better. I think I put more volume on my shot, more height. I think I was more patient also. A little bit maybe in the first set missing too quickly in the rallies.
“I think just the combination of all of that, also just digging deep physically and mentally, allowed me to come back nicely in the match, to finish strong in the third set.
“I’m happy with the way things turned around for me today.”
“I think I’m still a little bit jetlagged from Tokyo. Just this whole combination hasn’t made it easy for me the last couple weeks after Wimbledon.
“But to dig deep and to find a way to I guess win ugly in a way, coming back from really a poor set of tennis in the first, to come back and win it, yeah, it’s good that I can also win matches that way, not only playing my best tennis and winning in straight sets.”
Nick Kyrgios, the 2019 champion, fell in straight sets to American Mackenzie McDonald in 77 minutes, 6-4, 6-4 to lead off the evening session.
“I didn’t play great,” the Australian admitted. “I thought obviously I had a couple breakpoints here or there. I didn’t take those. You guys know how it goes: you don’t take opportunities… You have a guy hungry, who’s obviously been playing pretty well, coming back.
“Ultimately, like, I know I can’t be too hard on myself. I haven’t played a lot of matches or any of that type of stuff. I’m not going to talk bullsh*t. I played pretty average. My body feels pretty average.
“But he played well. He made enough returns. He played the big points well. He should be proud. He’s a good player. He’s a great guy, as well. I’m not taking anything away from him.
“But as I said, like, I don’t know, I just didn’t play great.”
McDonald is a 26-year-old Californian who played college tennis at UCLA.
Local favorite Frances Tiafoe, ranked 53 in the world was stunned by fellow American 20-year-old Jenson Brooksby, raked 130th, 7-6(4), 7-5 in the second evening match.
“Super unorthodox,” Tiafoe said of his opponent’s game. “Obviously everything he does is pretty strange. Puts you in awkward positions, makes you play an extra ball, has great anticipation of the ball. Is really solid, makes you play a lot.
“Yeah, I mean, he made me play a lot. He played super well tonight, I thought. I didn’t think I played badly, but… Yeah, I mean, definitely wasn’t the result I was expecting tonight.”
Brooksby, competing in Washington for the first time, reached his first ATP final just last month in Newport.
“It was a good match, for sure,” Brooksby said. “A tight one. He’s a real athletic guy. I can’t really give away my strategy much. I knew it definitely would be a good match going into it. But I believed I could win, no doubt. I’m glad to get through today.”
Tiafoe is scheduled to play doubles with Nick Kyrgios on Wednesday night.
The 12th seed Sebastian Korda advanced to the third round by beating Vasek Pospisil of Canada 7-5, 6-4. The young American, son of former pro Petr Korda and brother of top women’s golf pro Nelly Korda had bee practicing with Rafael Nadal before the tournament.
On practicing with Nadal: “It was awesome. I looked up to him ever since I started playing tennis.
“The first real memory I have, I would always camp out in front of the locker room, just wait for Radek (Stepanek). I think when I was eight years old, we were in Miami, and he came up to me as he was leaving the locker room and just said hi. I shook my head a little bit.
“Yeah, ever since I started playing tennis, I kind of really looked up to him. Now to be able to practice and play against him is a dream come true. Hopefully we can have many more battles against each other.”
“I think my agent always says the practice with Rafa is a whole different level. The intensity that he brings right from the beginning is something that no other player can really do. He’s really special in that.
“He always has a purpose with whatever he’s doing. He’s always talking to his coach, trying to figure out things, what works on the court, what doesn’t work on the court.
“Yeah, I took a lot from that.”
“I’ve had a really good year so far. Sometimes you don’t realize how great of a year you’ve had. A year ago I was ranked 220 in the world, now I’m in the top 50 competing for tournaments. The process has been sped up super fast. Kind of sometimes you don’t realize how well you’re doing.
“I really noticed that after Wimbledon. I kind of sat down and just thought about the year, how it’s gone. Yeah, just super happy with how everything’s going. I’m putting in the work. Every day I’m just super grateful to be out here.”
Wild card entry Brandon Nakashima, the runner-up in his past two ATP tournaments, gave himself a 20th birthday present when defeated Alexei Popyrin of Australia 6-3, 6-3 in a first-round match.
The American reached the finals of his last two tournaments – Los Cabos and Atlanta. Before this he had not won a tour-level match. He’s now up into the Top 100 for the first time.
“It’s always tough, especially when you’re playing the final of one tournament and then having to bounce back the next day or a couple days later and play another new tournament against another top player,” Nakashima said. “I just try to tell myself to just stay calm out there, just focus on what I do best. All these hard-court matches have helped me with my confidence in my game, knowing that I can compete with all these top guys if I bring my best game out there.”
2021 CITI OPEN RESULTS – TUESDAY, AUGUST 3, 2021
T. Sandgren (USA) d. J. Duckworth (AUS), 6-3, 2-6, 6-2
M. McDonald (USA) d. N. Kyrgios (AUS), 6-4, 6-4
D. Kudla (USA) d. [WC] F. Lopez (ESP), 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-3
[WC] B. Nakashima (USA) d. A. Popyrin (AUS), 6-3, 6-3
E. Ruusuvuori (FIN) d. [Q] P. Gunneswaran (IND), 2-6, 6-1, 6-1
S. Johnson (USA) d. [Q] R. Ramanathan (IND), 6-3, 7-6 (0)
[Q] E. Ymer (SWE) d. J. Thompson (AUS), 3-6, 7-5, 6-3
 F. Auger-Aliassime (CAN) d. A. Seppi (ITA), 2-6, 6-2, 6-2
 C. Norrie (GBR) d. M. Giron (USA), 6-4, 6-3
 S. Korda (USA) d. V. Pospisil (CAN), 7-5, 6-4
R. Berankis (LTU) d.  M. Kecmanovic (SRB), 6-3, 6-2
[WC] J. Brooksby (USA) d.  F. Tiafoe (USA), 7-6 (4), 7-5
 R. Klaasen (RSA) / B. McLachlan (JPN) d. A. Bublik (KAZ) / A. Golubev (KAZ), 7-5, 6-2
G. Dimitrov (BUL) / T. Paul (USA) d. [WC] S. Querrey (USA) / J. Sock (USA), 7-6 (8), 6-2
S. Korda (USA) / J. Sinner (ITA) d. [Q] B. Paire (FRA) / J. Withrow (USA), 1-6, 6-4, 13-11
ORDER OF PLAY – WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 4, 2021
STADIUM COURT start 2:00 pm
 T. Fritz (USA) vs. D. Kudla (USA)
Not Before 5:00 pm
 G. Dimitrov (BUL) vs. I. Ivashka (BLR)
Not Before 7:00 pm
 [WC] R. Nadal (ESP) vs. [WC] J. Sock (USA)
[WC] N. Kyrgios (AUS) / F. Tiafoe (USA) vs.  R. Bopanna (IND) / I. Dodig (CRO)
JOHN HARRIS COURT start 2:00 pm
S. Johnson (USA) vs.  A. de Minaur (AUS)
Not Before 3:30 pm
 J. Sinner (ITA) vs. E. Ruusuvuori (FIN)
M. McDonald (USA) vs.  B. Paire (FRA)
F. Martin (FRA) / M. Purcell (AUS) vs.  N. Skupski (GBR) / M. Venus (NZL)
GRANDSTAND COURT start 2:00 pm
[WC] B. Nakashima (USA) vs.  D. Evans (GBR)
 R. Opelka (USA) vs. D. Galan (COL)
 A. Bublik (KAZ) vs. K. Nishikori (JPN)
M. Arevalo (ESA) / M. Middelkoop (NED) vs. M. Daniell (NZL) / M. Melo (BRA)
COURT 4 start 2:00 pm
[Q] E. Ymer (SWE) vs.  J. Millman (AUS)
T. Sandgren (USA) vs.  L. Harris (RSA)
 J. Peers (AUS) / F. Polasek (SVK) vs. A. de Minaur (AUS) / J. Millman (AUS)