Intermission, brief as it was, is over; it’s time for the second half of the tennis season to begin. Two weeks after Wimbledon’s end, the tours have left grass behind and begun their slow migration from Europe to North America. The biggest stars aren’t quite ready to reappear just yet—that happens in August—but the stage is set and the action has begun. Here’s a look at what’s ahead this week.
Citi Open (ATP)
$2,002,460; 500 ranking points
The rise of the Citi Open over the last half-decade has been one of the heartening stories in tennis. A major sponsor, a 500-level designation, a $2 million purse, dual-gender draws, a healthy dose of social-media attention and first-ball-to-last treatment on Tennis Channel have raised its profile considerably.
This year the D.C. event may have its strongest draw to date. The Big 4 haven’t made the trip, but a good portion of the Top 20 has. Most prominently, the Citi Open has lured Austria’s Dominic Thiem, the No. 1 seed, and Germany’s Alexander Zverev, the No. 5 seed, away from clay-court events in Europe. It will be interesting to see how Thiem fares as the putative favorite at an event this size.
Joining Thiem and Zverev is a crowd-pleasing cast of players, with a heavy Stateside tinge. There’s No. 2 seed, and 2015 champ, Kei Nishikori; 2008 and 2013 champ Juan Martin del Potro; Grigor Dimitrov; Nick Kyrgios; Gael Monfils; Milos Raonic; and Mischa Zverev. Jack Sock and John Isner lead a field of 11 Americans (not including those who come out of qualifying).
First-round matches to watch:
Daniil Medvedev vs. Reilly Opelka
Kyle Edmund vs. Hyeon Chung
Go Soeda vs. Tennys Sandgren—Sandgren is a 26-year-old Challenger tour veteran from Tennessee enjoying the best year of his career.
Citi Open (WTA)
$226,750; WTA International
As far as money and ranking points, the women’s event in D.C. can’t compete with the men’s. Instead of $2 million, it offers $227,000; instead of 500-level ranking points, it offers a smaller International-level haul. But there’s only one other WTA event this week, in Stanford, and this one keeps the women closer to next week’s tournament in Canada. So D.C. it is for Simona Halep, Kiki Mladenovic, Sloane Stephens, Genie Bouchard, Jelena Jankovic, Andrea Petkovic, Monica Puig, and Shelby Rogers.
First-round match to watch:
Halep vs. Stephens
Bank of the West Classic (WTA)
Stanford University, California
The premier, and Premier, women’s event of the week is in Stanford. Like the men’s tournament in D.C., its field offers a mix of the high-quality and the crowd-pleasing. Garbiñe Muguruza and Petra Kvitova, two hard-hitting Wimbledon winners, are the top two seeds. I’m especially curious about how Muguruza will do after her All England triumph. In the past, big wins for her have led to big losses, right away.
Also here are two equally hard-hitting Americans, Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe, as well as hometown favorite CiCi Bellis. But the biggest name will arrive unseeded: Maria Sharapova, a wild card, starts against Jennifer Brady. A third-round match-up with Vandeweghe is a possibility.
Possible second-round match to watch:
Keys vs. Naomi Osaka
Abierto Mexicano de Tenis (ATP)
Los Cabos, Mexico
$727,995; 250 ranking points
Tomas Berdych and Sam Querrey, the top two seeds at this second-year event, have chosen to head south to start their US Open preparations. They’re joined by a mini-Armada: Albert Ramos-Viñolas, Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco.
First-round match to watch:
Frances Tiafoe vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis
Canadian to watch: Peter Polansky, who has reached two straight Challenger finals since Wimbledon.
Generali Open (ATP)
$700,000; 250 ranking points
It’s last call for dirt-ballers in 2017 on the men’s side. Kitzbuhel brings the ATP’s clay season to an official and somewhat anti-climactic end; at this point, even native Austrian son Dominic Thiem has sailed for hard courts in the States. Getting their last slides in here will be Top 4 seeds Pablo Cuevas, Fabio Fognini, Paolo Lorenzi and Gilles Simon.