The US Open Series rolls on to Washington D.C with the Citi Open next in the schedule. The tournament hosts both tours this week with the WTA International event alongside an ATP 500. Alexandr Dolgopolov looks to defend his title in the 45th edition of the tournament but has his work cut out in a field that includes former champion Juan Martin Del Potro and Milos Raonic.
Del Potro comes into the tournament as top seed and is the favourite to take the title. In his first match since Wimbledon, he will play either Lleyton Hewitt or Ryan Harrison. Harrison finally reversed an alarming run of form with a semi final run in Atlanta while Hewitt was also a losing semi finalist in the same tournament. Del Potro actually defeated Hewitt on his way to the 2009 title but the Australian won their most recent encounter on the grass of Queens. After struggling throughout the year, David Goffin returned to the Challenger Tour in Turkey to gain some much needed confidence. He comes into the tournament with a victory in Eskisehir. Goffin will play Yen-Hsun Lu in his opener with the winner playing Bernard Tomic. Tomic has met Goffin once and lost in four sets at Wimbledon although the Belgian was in much better form in the middle of 2012.
Mardy Fish continues his comeback after health issues but will have been disappointed by his loss to Michael Russell given he held a break lead in the final set. He plays fellow veteran Michael Llodra who has not played since suffering a hamstring injury at Wimbledon. Fish trails the head to head 4-3 but has won the last three, although it has been 3 years since the last meeting. If Llodra wins, it will be an all French second round with Julien Benneteau awaiting in the next round. James Duckworth gets a wildcard into the tournament and is in good form, having made the final of Lexington Challenger this week. He is lucky enough to draw a qualifier, the likes of which include Somdev Devvarman, Matthew Ebden, Tim Smyzcek and Rhyne Williams. The winner faces a tough test against Atlanta finalist Kevin Anderson.
A losing finalist last year, Tommy Haas hopes to go one better and starts with either Grega Zemlja or a qualifier. The Slovenian actually pulled off a shock victory over Haas on his way to the Vienna final last year in three sets. If both seeds advance to the third round, Haas will be feeling very confident of his chances. He already has three victories over Ivan Dodig on the year with the sole hard court meeting coming in Delray Beach. However, Dodig must first defeat the winner of Ricardas Berankis and Tobias Kamke – both of which have been struggling for a consistent run of form. They have met once before in a Challenger in 2008 with Berankis coming out on top.
The biggest American hope in the top half of the draw comes in the form of Sam Querrey. Querrey has had home hard court success in the past with multiple titles in the now defunct Los Angeles tournament. Assuming he is ready to go after withdrawing from Newport doubles with an elbow problem, he should fancy his chances of living up to his seeding and making the quarter finals at least. He has defeated both potential round two opponents on outdoor hard courts in their only meetings on that surface. Denis Istomin and Santiago Giraldo were both losing quarter finalists in Atlanta with the latter backing up his Bogota run to the same stage the week before. Grigor Dimitrov took to the clay of Bastad after Wimbledon, making the semi finals. He will play Xavier Malisse or Rajeev Ram in his first match of the US Open Series. Malisse will be looking to make it 5 wins out of 5 against the American, with his last victory coming in three sets in Miami this year.
Gilles Simon opens with either a qualifier or Dmitry Tursunov, whom he defeated to take the title in Indianapolis in 2008. Tursunov has spent time on the clay post-Wimbledon, putting up a 2-3 record in Stuttgart, Umag and Hamburg. 2011 winner Radek Stepanek has not played since withdrawing from Wimbledon with injury and could well be shocked as he takes on Steve Johnson. The American wildcard has yet to win a main tour match on outdoor hard courts this year although he did take Nicolas Almagro to 5 sets at the Australian Open this year. The winner will face Feliciano Lopez, who will be hoping Johnson can come out on top given his awful 2-9 record against Stepanek.
Given past performances in North America, Milos Raonic should go well at this tournament. Prior to his withdrawal due to injury at Miami, the Canadian had made at least the fourth round of each outdoor North American hard court event since the beginning of the 2012 US Open Series. A qualifier or wildcard Denis Kudla should pose little trouble for Raonic while the other seed in his section, Nikolay Davydenko, continues to struggle for consistency. Although on the clay, Davydenko took just four games in each of two losses at Stuttgart and Hamburg. Davydenko starts against either James Blake or Marinko Matosevic. Blake leads the head to head 1-0 and is in decent form, having made the quarter finals of Atlanta and should really have pushed John Isner to a third set.
Looking at the draw, it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see a big serving semi final between Isner and Raonic. It was at this tournament in 2007 that Isner burst onto the scene as a wildcard, reeling off five consecutive third set tiebreak victories to make the final where he would be defeated by Andy Roddick. He gets a kind draw to begin with – playing Alex Bogomolov or a qualifier, after Gael Monfils was forced to withdraw through injury. Awaiting in round three would be either another qualifier or Alexandr Dolgopolov. The Ukranian is just 2-5 on hard courts this year and could see a major points drop if he continues the form that saw him thrashed in both clay tournaments he played prior to this event.
Despite not playing since Wimbledon, Kei Nishikori moved back up to No.11 in the rankings and with a good tournament here can continue to the push to get into the top 10. He will play the winner of Jack Sock and Igor Sijsling. Sock is the recipient of yet another wildcard but has failed to make an impact with disappointing losses to Jan Hernych and Santiago Giraldo in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Sijsling has lost his last two first round matches against Ivo Karlovic and Ryan Harrison respectively – the latter of which he dropped six games in a row to lose the first set to. 2010 losing finalist Marcos Baghdatis gets the final seeding spot of the draw but his current form is anything but that of a player worthy of seeding. He has now lost 10 matches in a row on the main tour and it would be little surprise if Lukas Lacko or Alejandro Falla were to make it 11, although the latter has a 0-4 record against the Cypriot.