Stan v. Kei, anyone? July ends on a high in Washington D.C. and beyond

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Stan Wawrinka is hoping to bounce back during the hard-court season. (Getty Images)

Once upon a time—like, say, three or four years ago—tennis took a long, mid-summer siesta before it began to rev itself back up for the second half of the season. But with Wimbledon moving back a week, the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., enjoying a resurgence, and the WTA debuting a brand-new Northern California tournament site, the game has shifted gears more quickly in 2018. This week, Serena Williams will lead a strong draw in San Jose; Andy Murray, Alexander Zverev, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens will do the same in D.C.; and Juan Martin del Potro takes his crowd-pleasing talents to Cabo San Lucas. Del Potro may not be quite ready to end his siesta, though; at Wimbledon he said, with a wink, that the beach helped draw him to Mexico this year.

Here’s a look at the five events that will close out July, and what we can expect from each.

Citi Open (ATP)
Washington, D.C.
$2,146,815; 500 ranking points
Hard court
Draw is here

Has some of the shine come off Alexander Zverev over the last six weeks? The German entered the French Open like a lion, but he wasn’t roaring quite as loudly by the time he left Wimbledon. After a stellar spring, Zverev failed to get out of the quarterfinals at either major. But if there’s a place where the world No. 3 can begin to turn his season around again, D.C. is it. He says he likes the city and the tournament, and why wouldn’t he? He won here in 2017. This time he returns as the top seed, but the draw hasn’t done him any favors: Sascha is slated to face his older brother, Mischa, in the third round.

While Zverev tries to regain his momentum at the top of this bracket, his friend John Isner will try to keep his going at the bottom. The No. 2 seed, who made his breakthrough run in D.C. 11 years ago, is flying as high as he ever has right now, after reaching his first major semifinal at Wimbledon, and winning his fifth straight title in Atlanta. Isner’s draw in D.C. looks promising, too; the seeds closest to him are Andrey Rublev, Lucas Pouille and Karen Khachanov.

But the most interesting aspect of this event may be who isn’t seeded: three-time Grand Slam champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are both buried deep in the brackets. Murray will finally begin his comeback from hip surgery in earnest against American Mackenzie McDonald (the winner plays Kyle Edmund); Wawrinka, meanwhile, could face Kei Nishikori in the second round.

Also lurking in this stacked field of 48: Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov, David Goffin, Hyeon Chung, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Steve Johnson

Destination Tennis: Washington D.C.'s Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

Citi Open (WTA)
Washington, D.C.
$250,000; International
Hard court
Draw is here

As far as money and points go, the WTA’s International event in D.C. can’t compare to the ATP’s 500-level draw. But as far as the field itself goes, the women have done the best they can with the dollars they have. Two recent Grand Slam champions, Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens, are the top two seeds. Fast-rising Naomi Osaka is No. 3. Upset specialist Ekaterina Makarova is No. 4. And a young woman on the mend, Belinda Bencic, is No. 6.

The first question for U.S. fans will be: Has Sloane recovered from her topsy-turvy trip through the French Open (where she was a finalist) and Wimbledon (where she lost in the first round)?

Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic (WTA)
San Jose, Calif.
$799,000; Premier
Hard court
Draw is here

Remember the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, the homey little tournament that has traditionally kicked off the WTA side of the US Open Series? It has moved down the road to San Jose, and switched bank sponsors along the way. We’ll see whether the event’s appealingly low-key, intimate atmosphere travels with it.

What hasn’t changed is the surface—hard court—and the draw, which is still small and strong. The 28 players in it this year have won 34 Grand Slam titles between them. Twenty-three of those belong to Serena Williams, who is seeded sixth, and who will open against Johanna Konta on Tuesday.

Also here: defending champion Madison Keys; top seed Garbiñe Muguruza; No. 3 seed Venus Williams; former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka; late-blooming Romanian Mihaela Buzarnescu; and not-quite-as-late-blooming American Danielle Collins.

First-round match to watch: S. Williams vs. Konta

Potential second-round match to watch: Muguruza vs. Azarenka

Destination Tennis: Ben's Chili Bowl, in Washington D.C.

Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Mifel (ATP)
Cabo San Lucas, Mexico
$715,000; 250 ranking points
Hard court
Draw is here

Juan Martin del Potro is a three-time champion in Washington, D.C., so why would he head west, to a tournament with half as many ranking points, instead? “Beach,” Delpo said with a smile when he was asked that question at Wimbledon. There also might have been a few bucks involved, too.

Either way, Delpo is the top seed in Los Cabos, and he would seem to be building toward a big result at the year’s final major. The Argentine is coming off semifinal and quarterfinal runs at Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and will return to his favorite surface starting this week. Standing in his way on his side of the draw could be Sam Querrey, a winner in Acapulco last year, and Damir Dzumhur, who is having a career season in 2018.

First-round match to watch: Taylor Fritz vs. Thanasi Kokkinakis

Generali Open (ATP)
Kitzbühel, Austria
$700,000; 250 ranking points
Red clay
Draw is here

This is normally where I would write, “If there’s a tournament somewhere in the world, you can count on at least one person being in it: Dominic Thiem.” In this case, though, the tournament happens to be in Thiem’s home country of Austria, so the marathon man’s presence is easier to understand.

Thiem is the top seed in a draw that includes fellow Euro-workhorses Philipp Kohlschreiber, Fernando Verdasco, and Gilles Simon.

Player to watch: Maximilian Marterer. The young German lefty showed off some crackling shot-making potential at Roland Garros last month.

ATP & WTA Washington D.C.
Catch all the action from the Citi Open with live coverage from three courts on Tennis Channel Plus beginning Monday, July 30th at 2:00 PM ET. All matches also available on-demand.

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