- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 26, 2018

Before the U.S. Open concludes the Grand Slam tennis schedule a month from now in New York, Washington will host many of the world’s top-ranked men and women at its own annual tournament.

The Citi Open, the area’s joint ATP and WTA Tour stop, kicks off Saturday at William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park. It serves as a hard court tune-up for many players preparing to play in the U.S. Open.

The Open is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2018. The men’s event was established in 1969, and the women’s event was merged into a joint tournament in 2012.

Qualifying will take place Saturday and Sunday before the main draw gets going Monday. The men’s and women’s singles finals will be played Sunday, August 5. 

Alexander Zverev, of Germany, is the defending men’s singles champion, while Ekaterina Makarova won the women’s singles title a year ago.

They will be joined by the likes of Andy Murray, John Isner, Kevin Anderson and Stan Wawrinka in the men’s draw, and Caroline Wozniacki and 2015 Citi Open champ Sloane Stephens on the women’s side.

The hometown favorite will be College Park, Maryland native Frances Tiafoe, who has risen to the 42nd ranked men’s singles player in the world. 

The tournament took some heat last year when American semifinalist Jack Sock called the court “probably the worst court on tour.”

“Pretty shocking tennis court,” Sock said of the conditions. “I don’t think I’ll be back at this tournament probably in the future. It’s probably the worst court of the year. Speed, bounces, everything. It’s pretty shocking.”

While Sock will not come to Washington this year, scores of fans are expected to attend. Tournament officials said 76,000 fans came to Rock Creek Park last year.

Tickets and more information are available at citiopentennis.com.

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