Tennis players know all about heat. From Melbourne in January to New York in August, they spend their lives bouncing from one hot spot to the next. Let’s hope that means they’ll be ready to return to action at the end of a month that has produced a wave of record temperatures across Europe, and on the east coast of the United States. This week the pros will be in both places, as the tour makes its gradual transition from post-Wimbledon clay courts to pre-U.S. Open hard courts. While the game’s biggest names of the moment—Serena Williams, Simona Halep, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, and Roger Federer—haven’t arrived yet, just about everyone else is ready to get the season’s second half under way. Here’s a look at how the draws have shaken out at this week’s six events.
Citi Open (ATP)
$2,046,340; 500 level
D.C. in August is among the hottest of those aforementioned tour hot spots; here’s hoping it’s not also among the wettest again. Last year’s edition of the Citi Open was decimated by rain, so much so that it’s most memorable moment was the sight of Andy Murray breaking down in tears after finishing a match at 3:00 A.M.
Will new ownership bring better luck? There are thunderstorms expected again this week, but at least Murray, after vowing not to return, will be playing doubles with his brother, Jamie. And while the singles draw is missing two of its traditional mainstays, Juan Martin del Potro and Alexander Zverev, it’s still a typically solid and fan-friendly field of 56. Stefanos Tsitsipas, John Isner, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Nick Kyrgios, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga are among the headline acts. The winner in D.C. often goes on to have a very strong summer in the States.
Returning: Jack Sock, who will play just his second event since the Australian Open; he’ll start against Jordan Thompson.
All-American first-round match to watch: Reilly Opelka vs. Christopher Eubanks
Stefanos Tsitsipas is looking to bounce back from a surprise first-round exit at Wimbledon (Getty Images)
Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic (WTA)
San Jose, CA
The title sponsor may be from the UAE, but the women will begin their month-long run-up to the US Open with a Premier even in San Jose. That’s too a long time to be Stateside for many of the best European players, but not for Elina Svitolina. Two weeks after reaching her first Grand Slam semifinal, on Wimbledon grass, she’ll be on Northern California hard courts as the top seed here. She loves the surface, and she likely wants to make up for the time she lost to an injury earlier this year, but is this a recipe for peaking too early, the way she has before other majors in the past?
Returning: Coco Vandeweghe, who will make her 2019 debut against Marie Bouzkova after a long injury lay-off. The winner will play Sabalenka.
Citi Open (WTA)
By most official measures, the women’s tournament at the Citi Open plays second fiddle to the men’s. The ATP event is a higher tier, has a bigger field, and offers nearly $2 million more in prize money. But this year the WTA draw has one very important asset: Coco Gauff. The 15-year-old Wimbledon sensation qualified for the main draw in D.C. on Sunday. There, she’ll join fellow Americans Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, and Sofia Kenin, who also happen to be the top three seeds.
Wild card to watch: Hailey Baptiste. The 17-year-old Washington native will play Keys in the first round.
After qualifying, Coco Gauff will take on Zarina Diyas in the first round of the Citi Open (Getty Images)
Abierto Mexicano de Tenis Mifel (ATP)
Los Cabos, Mexico
$858,565; 250 level
Talk about hot: The temperature isn’t expected to dip below 90 degrees all week in this Mexican resort city. Can Fabio Fognini, the No. 1 seed in this 28-man draw, keep his cool that long? The Italian heads up field that includes Guido Pella, Diego Schwartzman, Cristian Garin, Taylor Fritz, Ernests Gulbis, and an unseeded Grigor Dimitrov.
Returning: Thanasi Kokkinakis. The oft-injured Aussie will play his first ATP-level event since retiring in the first round at the Australian Open.
Generali Open (ATP)
$750,000; 250 level
Dominic Thiem is lingering in Europe for as long as he can. Which isn’t surprising, considering that Kitzbuhel is (a) in his home country, and (b) on his favorite surface, clay. Thiem, the top seed, leads a Eurocentric field that includes Dusan Lajovic, Fernando Verdasco, and Pablo Cuevas.
First-round war of the one-handed backhands to watch: Philipp Kohlschreiber vs. Richard Gasquet
Dominic Thiem hopes to enjoy a home-court advantage after bowing out in the Hamburg quarterfinals (Getty Images)
Liqui Moly Open Karlsruhe (WTA)
$125,000; 125K Series
The week’s least-lucrative event may also be its most intriguingly named. What is Liqui Moly, you ask? The name of the company is more interesting than its primary product: motor oil. 56th-ranked Tamara Zidansk is the top seed, followed by Alison Van Uytvanck.