Keeler: Plenty of talent in Citi Open

It’s a bit of a dead period in sports right now. Soon football will take center stage and baseball will get to what really matters — the playoffs. However, if you need your fix of some great professional athletes playing in the D.C. area, next week’s Citi Open combined men’s and women’s professional tennis tournament could be the place for you.

It is the third year the tournament will have a men’s and women’s event and it continues to grow with each year.

Three of the top 10 men’s players in the world will be playing in D.C. this year. Tomas Berdych, currently ranked fifth in the ATP rankings, leads the way. Canada’s Milos Raonic (No. 6 in the world) and Bulgaria’s Grigor Dimitrov (No. 9) will also be in the field.
Raonic and Dimitrov are considered the top rising stars in the game, and should win grand slam titles in the future. They both made the Wimbledon semifinals this year and have bright, bright futures.

Raonic has one of the biggest serves in the game, while Dimitrov has just about every shot imaginable. Once nicknamed “Baby Fed” because people compared him to 17-time slam champion Roger Federer, Dimitrov has emerged this year as a true talent and has already won three titles this season. He’s showing that he’s more than just flash, and more than just Maria Sharapova’s boyfriend.

There are also many players ranked just outside of the Top 10 who will be in the tournament. Kei Nishikori (No. 11), another future star, American John Isner (No. 12) and Frenchman Richard Gasquet (No. 14) will also be in the field. Big-serving Kevin Anderson (No. 17), the always-flashy Gale Monfils (No. 23) and Feliciano Lopez (No. 25) are also contenders for the title.

The Citi Open is part of the U.S. Open Series, which is a five-week tennis season linking eight North American tournaments to the U.S. Open. Points are collected throughout the tournaments and the top three in the U.S. Open Series earn extra money, and could win an extra $1 million if they win the U.S. Open.

The women’s event is not a U.S. Open Series tournament, but there are plenty of stars in the tournament as well. 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard (No. 7 in the world) leads the way. The 20-year-old Canadian has made at least the semifinals of every major this season, and there’s no question she’ll win quite a few before she’s done.

American Sloane Stephens, a former Australian open semifinalist, 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Lucie Safarova and American Madison Keys will also be in the field. The 19-year-old Keys won her first career title in June, and is the third ranked American on the WTA Tour. She also has a bright future ahead of her.

Another promising American to watch out for will be in the qualifying. Taylor Townsend, only 18, upset Alize Cornet at the French Open this year and may be the best talent of the current up-and-coming crop of American players.

Cornet, who upset Serena Williams at Wimbledon this year, will also be in the Citi Open. Two-time grand slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova and fellow Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova will also be in the mix.

Qualifying for the tournament starts Saturday with main draw play beginning on Monday. The semifinals will be held on Saturday, Aug. 2 with the finals being held on Sunday, Aug. 3. The women’s final will be at noon, while the men’s final is scheduled for 3 p.m.

All in all, it’s a fun week of top-level tennis. If tennis is a sport you love, then the Citi Open is definitely the place to be.

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd

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