Ekaterina Makarova (@KateMakarova1) Top Seed Standing After Funky First Round @CitiOpen; Video Interview

Ekaterina Makarova (@KateMakarova1) Top Seed Standing After Funky First Round @CitiOpen
Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

At 1:45 p.m., top seed Lucie Safarova kicked off Tuesday play on Stadium Court. Magdalena Rybarikova was a two-time defending champion warming up on Grandstand court, about to begin her title defense.

So much can happen in two hours.

Quoteth the Morrissey, “The Queen is Dead, Boys’.

The Queen of the Citi, Magdalena Rybarikova, went down in ignominious fashion today, 6-1, 6-1 to Ekaterina Makarova, a 53-minute drubbing not befitting the most dominant player in this WTA event’s short history.

But that wasn’t enough.

Top seed Lucie Safarova was also sent packing at the hands of KiKi Mladenovic 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

That leaves Ekaterina Makarova as new the King of the Court, er, Queen of the Citi. She took down the defending champ, she’s the top seed standing and she is now the favorite to take the title.

Makarova and Me (Photo: @NickMcCarvel)

Makarova and Me (Photo: @NickMcCarvel)

Makarova made the quarterfinals at Wimbledon last month, and guess who beat her there? Safarova. She won’t have Lucie to worry about in Washington. BONUS: Ekaterina told me she chose Washington over Stanford because she likes Washington so much. Even though she’s never been to Stanford. Smart woman.

The whole pecking order has reshuffled and this could really benefit Sloane Stephens, who is the second highest seed remaining in the Women’s draw. Um, except that Stephens lost tonight in her match against Christina McHale, 4-6, 6-4, 0-6(!!).

The 1, 3, 4 and 7 seeds are gone (and the twice defending champ) and it’s only Tuesday.

Stay tuned. Even by WTA standards, this is whack. Oh yeah. The winner of this event is clear…as mud.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova Loves Dogs, Tigers, Elephants and the US Open #CitiOpen #WTA

Svetlana Kuznetsova Loves Dogs, Tigers, Elephants and the US Open

Svetlana Kuznetsova (Photo: (C) 2014 Chris Levy @tennis_shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

Svetlana Kuznetsova (Photo: (C) 2014 Chris Levy @tennis_shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

Two-time Grand Slam Champion Svetlana Kuznetsova won her first slam in the US, so she’s always happy to summer in the States. She spoke with me at yesterday at the Citi Open, a WTA International-level event in Washington, DC. Due to a change in security policy at the tournament this year, no one, not even Grand Slam champions, are allowed in the lower seating bowl without a ticket. Kuznetsova shrugged off her denial of access to a qualifying match over the weekend and mentioned that Martina Navratilova had run into the same problem at another tournament.

Svetlana Kuznetsova (Photo: (C) 2014 Chris Levy @tennis_shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

Svetlana Kuznetsova (Photo: (C) 2014 Chris Levy @tennis_shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

Svetlana Kuznetsova (Photo: (C) 2014 Chris Levy @tennis_shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

Svetlana Kuznetsova (Photo: (C) 2014 Chris Levy @tennis_shots for TennisEastCoast.com)

She loves her dog, and wears her pride on her shirt, a gift from Chinese clothing sponsor Qiaodan which features her American Bully, Dolce. Pressed on whether her love for animals extended beyond the canine variety, she says she likes “Tigers, Elephants, many animals’. Unlike Dolce, who travels with her on a regular basis, tigers and elephants just won’t fit on the plane.

—Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

2014 WTA Washington @CitiOpen Preview

2014 WTA Washington @CitiOpen Preview
Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

Madison Keys US Open Wild Card Playoffs 2011 TennisMaryland.com

It’s a Capital Event. Washington, DC hosts the joint hardcourt Citi Open, a WTA International-level event and an ATP 500.

I will cover the WTA field, while Steen Kirby has a look at the men in a companion post.

The omen’s seeds features 8 of the top 30 players, but only one player in the top 20. The loss of World #7 Genie Bouchard to a knee injury hobbles the power rankings of the DC field. This is a 20’s thing: 7 of the women ranked 20-29 are playing at Citi Open.

Let’s be frank. The top seed has never won this event, and I expect that trend to continue.

Top 8 Seeds (Rankings)
1: Lucie Safarova (17)
2: Ekaterina Makarova (20)
3: Alize Cornet (21)
4: Sloane Stephens (22)
5: Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (24)
6: Svetlana Kuznetsova (26)
7: Madison Keys (27)
8: Sorana Cirstea (29)

WTA Washington
Citi Open

July 28-August 3, 2014
WTA International
$250,000

First Round Match Ups to Watch:

Magda Rybarikova

Magda Rybarikova

Magdalena Rybarikova vs. Ekaterina Makarova

The #2 Seed and Wimbledon Quarterfinalist Makarova gets a tough draw in Magda Rybarikova, the two-time defending champion of this event. Rybarikova owns the H2H 2-0, including a destructive 6-2, 6-0 drubbing of E-Kat in last year’s Citi semifinals. Makarova has won more than twice as many matches as she has dropped this year, while Magda has a losing record in 2014. But guess what? This is Magdaville and you’re lucky to live in it. She twice defied the odds in winning this tournament, and that intangible confidence is why I believe Rybarikova will win a grueling three-setter against Makarova.

Sloane Stephens vs. Christina McHale

Christina McHale
It’s hard to believe these two have never met in WTA main draw play. Sloane’s ranking superiority over compatriot McHale (#22 vs. #51) is deceiving, since most of her points have been earned in the 3 1/2 slams thus far (Indian Wells=.5). Meanwhile, she’s done very little off of the biggest stages. DC’s no slam, and Christina is hungry to improve her ranking before the US Open. I know she’s been inconsistent and her biggest result in 2014 came in the January Acapulco final, but I’m going with a hunch on this one: McHale in three.

I’m obviously feeling lucky here, since Stephens and Makarova are 2-1 favorites to win this match at Tennis Abstract. As always, don’t actually wager on my musings, but be the first to thank me if I am correct.

Top Half:

In the WTA, I don’t even know why we name the quarters or sections after the top seeds. It’s simply a jinx. Enter Lucie Safarova, the unlikely top seed at Citi. She ascended to the top after Bouchard’s withdrawal. Lucie should cruise past Mladenovic in the first before beating Goerges or a qualifier in Round 2.

Madison Keys is at her best on summer hard, and she should easily advance over Kurumi Nara before a likely second round win vs. Zarina Diyas or a qualifier.

Cornet

Cornet

Meanwhile, Alize Cornet should be able to dispatch young American Shelby Rogers before getting past a second round opponent of Marina Erakovic or Kristyna Pliskova.

Cirstea, Washington 2013

You don’t know which Sori Cirstea will show up this year, but I’m confident that she’s good for a first round victory over Kiki Bertens. Bojana Jovanoski, or Bojangles, as I like to call her, will be exhausted after the Baku final. She should be good enough to beat a qualifier in Round 1, but I expect Cirstea to feast on her in Round 2.

Bottom Half:

Makarova is the top seed in the half and opens against Magda. I’ve picked the upset of the tournament here on nothing. Nothing except past performance by Rybarikova, whose exceptional play, mental toughness and odds-defiance on these same courts two years in a row. She’s innocent until proven guilty in DC. This is her special place. 1/2 of the contents of her trophy case originates here. And yes, there are those points to defend. She wins.

Lauren Davis, who is having a good year, opens with Shuai Peng. After that, she should do battle with Rybarikova. Rybarikova beat her in Memphis last year in straights and she eases past Davis.

2012 Finalist Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova begins Citi Open against Virginie Razzano. Pavs has a 2-0 hardcourt edge on the veteran French player. There’s nothing to suggest Razzano will get her first win here. After Razzano, Pavs likely does battle with the ever-improving Alison Riske, who opens with a qualifier. Riske has beaten Pavs twice this year, including a three-set win at Wimbledon and a straight sets blowout on the hardcourts of Sydney.

Quarters:

Keys d. Safarova
Cornet d. Cirstea
Rybarikova d. Riske
McHale d. Kuznetsova

Keys beat Safarova when they last played in Sydney on hard courts over a year and a half ago. Keys has improved markedly during that time.

Cornet had a nice run here last year, as did Sorana Cirstea. Even when Sorana was soaring in 2013, Cornet knocked her down a peg in DC and I expect the same.

McHale has a 2-1 H2H with Kuznetsova, so I expect that one to be close.

Alison Riske and Magda Rybarikova both sport losing singles records in 2014, but both are very motivated to win here. Having never met in WTA tour-level play, it could come down to Magda’s late-round Washington experience.

Semis:

Keys d. Cornet
Rybarikova d. McHale

Keys won her only meeting against Cornet at Fed Cup in a nail-biter earlier this year. It could be a very close one going to the American.

Look, if Magda makes it this far again, she’ll take out McHale or another opponent she faces in the semis.

Final:
Keys d. Rybarikova

I’d say Magda could beat almost anyone in this field if she reaches the final. Except Madison Keys. Keys scoring her maiden WTA title in Eastbourne is key. With a 2-1 H2H, she should hoist that crystal vase on Sunday. That would still leave Magda with good feelings about the tournament and another piece of DC glass in the trophy case.

Six US Players Qualify For Main Draw @CitiOpen #Results #MondayOOP

WASHINGTON–Six US players advanced to the main draw of the Citi Open in Washington, DC today.

Qualfies: Rajeev Ram

Qualfies: Rajeev Ram

On the men’s side, the youthful Jared Donaldson of Rhode Island qualified for his first tour-level main draw in defeating fellow American Sekou Bangoura. Robby Ginepri bested red-hot Sam Groth to advance, and Rajeev Ram made the main draw with a win over Emilio Gomez.

Of the US men who advanced today, nobody had a harder time doing it than Alex Kuznetsov, who dropped the first set to local DC product Jordi Arconada, before a come-back win in three sets.

Taylor Townsend and Tornado Ali Black made us proud and extended their stays in the Nation’s Capital, as both scored impressive victories in the scorching, humid late afternoon in Rock Creek Park.

On to the flip side and out North American allies: After very impressive performances yesterday, Canadians Stephanie Dubois and Gabriela Dabrowski were both frustrated in losing very close three-setters.

2014 citi Taylor Townsend

Play begins at 1:45 p.m. tomorrow. Tomorrow’s prime-time marquee matches feature rising star and local phenom Francis Tiafoe in his pro debut against Evgeny Donskoy, followed by Madison Keys vs. Kurumi Nara. I don’t think I remember Tennis Channel ever showing a Monday night match in Washington, a testament to the curiosity of viewers to see both of those young American players.

Tornado Ali Black

—Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

 

CITI OPEN – WASHINGTON DC, USA
USD 1,654,295.00 (ATP)
USD 250,000.00 (WTA)
28 JULY – 3 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – JULY 27, 2014

Mens
Qualifying Singles – Second Round

Qualifying – R Ginepri (USA) d S Groth (AUS) 64 64
Qualifying – Y Sugita (JPN) d [Alt] A Carter (USA) 60 61
Qualifying – R Ram (USA) d E Gomez (ECU) 64 76(2)
Qualifying – I Marchenko (UKR) d M Copil (ROU) 67(3) 76(4) 64
Qualifying – A Kuznetsov (USA) d [WC] J Arconada (ARG) 36 61 60
Qualifying – J Donaldson (USA) d S Bangoura (USA) 63 61

Mens
Qualifying Doubles – Second Round

Qualifying – [2] J Erlich (ISR) / R Ram (USA) d M Copil (ROU) / S Stakhovsky (UKR) 63 64

Women’s
Qualifying Singles – Second Round

Qualifying – T Townsend (USA) d T Smitkova (CZE) 63 64
Qualifying – O Rogowska (AUS) d G Dabrowski (CAN) 26 76(5) 76(5)
Qualifying – H Kuwata (JPN) d S Dubois (CAN) 46 62 76(3)
Qualifying – [WC] T Black (USA) d E Webley-Smith (GBR) 63 60

ORDER OF PLAY – MONDAY, JULY 28, 2014
STADIUM COURT start 1:45 pm
WTA – [6] S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs P Hercog (SLO)

Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – [Q] R Ginepri (USA) vs A Falla (COL)

Not Before 6:00 pm
ATP – A Gonzalez (COL) vs B Tomic (AUS)

Not Before 8:00 pm
ATP – [WC] F Tiafoe (USA) vs E Donskoy (RUS)
WTA – K Nara (JPN) vs [7] M Keys (USA)

GRANDSTAND 1 start 2:00 pm
WTA – V King (USA) vs [WC] F Abanda (CAN)

Not Before 4:00 pm
ATP – T Smyczek (USA) vs [Q] A Kuznetsov (USA)

Not Before 5:00 pm
ATP – [Q] Y Sugita (JPN) vs D Young (USA)
WTA – J Goerges (GER) vs [Q] T Townsend (USA)
WTA – [Q] T Black (USA) vs Z Diyas (KAZ)

GRANDSTAND 2 start 4:00 pm
ATP – F Dancevic (CAN) vs B Paire (FRA)
ATP – [Q] R Ram (USA) vs [Q] J Donaldson (USA)
WTA – [3] A Cornet (FRA) vs [WC] S Rogers (USA)
WTA – K Bertens (NED) vs [8] S Cirstea (ROU)

COURT 1 start 4:00 pm
WTA – L Chirico (USA) / S Marand (USA) vs [4] A Rodionova (AUS) / O Rogowska (AUS)
WTA – A Riske (USA) vs [Q] H Kuwata (JPN)
ATP – L Lacko (SVK) vs [WC] F Peliwo (CAN)

COURT 2 start 4:00 pm
ATP – M Jaziri (TUN) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR)
ATP – M Matosevic (AUS) vs [Q] I Marchenko (UKR)

Love Tennis? Would You Give Blood For It? @CitiOpen Ticket Giveaway

Citi Open Blood Drive

A few years ago, I was surprised and a little saddened to learn that my cousin had sold platelets to a North Carolina blood bank just to get the cash to take a bus to visit me in Baltimore. The idea of selling your blood for a grueling 12-hour Greyhound cruise didn’t seem like a just reward.

give_blood_play_tennis_fridge_magnets-r2311e93c1d3c4a8f9af7d0d688700b7f_x7js9_8byvr_324

The American Red Cross says that you can save three lives for each blood donation you make.

On Wednesday, come out to Citi Open, save three lives, and score two tickets for a session at the Nation’s Tennis Capital Event. It sure beats a 400-mile bus ride with some guy next to you regaling you with his tales of woe.

Inova Health is hosting a bloodmobile from 1-10 p.m. and the first 100 donors get their choice of two tickets to a match below:

Wednesday 7/30 (Session 5- Main Draw)
Friday 8/1 (Session 7- Quarterfinals- Day)
Friday 8/1 (Session 8- Quarterfinals- Evening)
Saturday 8/2 (Session 9- Semifinals)

As a bonus, you’ll be entered into a drawing for two (2) courtside box seat tickets to Sunday’s finals.

If you’re a tennis fan who regularly gives blood and you’re a “Donor for Life” like me, plan your next donation to be at Rock Creek Park this Wednesday. Even if you’re a first-timer, the idea of $100 worth of free tickets to see your favorite players will ease the momentary sting.

—S. Fogleman

It’s @Gibbsyyyy over Oudin @USTAProCircuit Carson CA

NICOLE GIBBS DEFEATS MELANIE OUDIN TO CAPTURE USTA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT WOMEN’S $50,000 CLASSIC IN CARSON

Nicole Gibbs Carson

CARSON, July 20, 2014 – Nicole Gibbs moved another step closer to playing in her third consecutive US Open main draw, capturing the USTA Player Development Women’s $50,000 Classic with a 6-4, 6-4 win over Melanie Oudin on Sunday at the USTA Training Center – West at StubHub Center.

Gibbs, 21, is a two-time NCAA singles winner at Stanford and earned wild-card entry into the season’s final Grand Slam the past two years by way of those wins.

With one event remaining in the US Open Wild Card Challenge, Gibbs now leads in the standings with 88 points. She is followed by Julia Boserup (63 points), Oudin (48), Louisa Chirico (44) and Sanaz Marand (30).
The final of the three-event US Open Wild Card Challenge is the Lexington, Ky., $50,000 Challenger to be played this week.

It was a tight battle throughout in the final on Sunday with Gibbs holding a 4-2 lead in the second set, before the sole of her shoe came partially off. Admitting she started to “panic,” Gibbs fell down 4-all, 40-love with Oudin serving. Gibbs then played a solid point, was aided by an untimely Oudin double fault and ultimately broke back to serve for the match.

“Tennis is like that sometimes,” said Gibbs, who won this event last year when it was held in Yakima, Wash. Without a spare pair of tennis shoes, Gibbs contemplated wearing running shoes, but opted for a tape job instead, which seemed to do the trick.

Oudin’s first-round loss in US Open qualifying last year to Elena Baltacha ended a streak of five consecutive main draw appearances at the US Open, which of course included her quarterfinal run there in 2009.
“It’s one tournament,” said Oudin, who did not play in Sacramento last week but will play Lexington, of the US Open. “I’m not worrying about this wild card. It’s the last thing on my mind. If I play well I can qualify on my own. But if I do win this wild card that’s just an added bonus.”

Gibbs Oudin Carson

Gibbs, a nearby Marina Del Rey resident, said she loved playing so close to home. “Just the title of the tournament, ‘Carson $50,000,’ ” she said. “It’s so exciting to be at the place I train and have my community supporting me.”

USTA Player Development Women’s $50,000 Classic
A USTA Pro Circuit Event

Sunday, July 20
USTA Training Center – West at StubHub Center
Carson, Calif.
Purse: $50,000
Surface: Hard-Outdoor

Sunday, July 20 – RESULT
Singles – Final
(2) Nicole Gibbs (USA) def. (4) Melanie Oudin (USA), 6-4, 6-4

—S. Pratt, USTA

Kvitova, Bouchard, Halep Headliners @ConnecticutOpen

2014 WIMBLEDON CHAMPION AND WORLD NO. 4 PETRA KVITOVA, 2014 WIMBLEDON FINALIST AND WORLD NO. 7 GENIE BOUCHARD, AND DEFENDING CHAMPION AND WORLD NO. 3 SIMONA HALEP HEADLINE CONNECTICUT OPEN PLAYER FIELD

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

NEW HAVEN, Conn., July 8, 2014 – 2014 Wimbledon Champion and World No. 4 Petra Kvitova, 2014 Wimbledon Finalist and World No. 7 Genie Bouchard, and Defending Champion and World No. 3 Simona Halep headline the field, which has collectively won 14 Grand Slam and 188 WTA singles and doubles titles, for the 2014 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies, it was announced today by Tournament Director Anne Worcester. The WTA event, which is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series, will be held August 15-23, 2014 at the Connecticut Tennis Center at Yale.

Petra Kvitova, 2013 New Haven

Kvitova, the 2012 Connecticut Open Champion, marched through the Wimbledon fortnight the past two weeks to grab her second career Grand Slam title in four years, becoming just the third two-time winner in women’s singles since 1996. The Czech star defeated Bouchard in the final, the first Grand Slam final of the young star’s career. The 20-year-old has rapidly ascended the rankings to become the highest-ranked Canadian player in history, thanks to semifinals appearances at both the Australian and French Opens, along with capturing her first WTA title at Nurnberg. This will be her first appearance at the Connecticut Open.

Halep is having a fantastic season highlighted by a finals appearance at the French Open, reaching the semifinals of Wimbledon, and winning the title in Doha, all of which have catapulted her to a career-high ranking of No. 3 in the world. She returns to defend her 2013 Connecticut Open title, where she defeated Kvitova to win the trophy.

Wozniacki, New Haven 2013

Aside from Halep, Kvitova and Bouchard, five other players in this year’s Connecticut Open field are ranked in the WTA top 20 including No. 15 and four-time Connecticut Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki, who will be chasing a record fifth title in New Haven (currently tied with Venus Williams with four Connecticut Open titles). In addition to Wozniacki, No. 13 Flavia Pennetta, who won in Indian Wells earlier this year; No. 14 and 2012 French Open finalist Sara Errani; No. 16 Carla Suarez-Navarro, who will be making her fourth Connecticut Open appearance; and No. 19 Ekaterina Makarova, a Grand Slam doubles champion, who advanced to the quarterfinals at New Haven last year, will compete for the title.

CoCo Vandeweghe (Photo: Craig Glover)

CoCo Vandeweghe (Photo: Craig Glover)

Joining the top-20 stars in this year’s field are American Coco Vandeweghe, a former US Open Junior Champion who also triumphed at s’-Hertogenbosh to capture her first WTA title; Garbine Muguruza, who advanced to this year’s French Open quarterfinals and defeated World No. 1 Serena Williams along the way; Roberta Vinci, who teamed with Errani to complete the doubles Grand Slam at this year’s Wimbledon; Shuai Zhang, who advanced to the semifinals at Birmingham, Kuala Lumpur and Acapulco this year; Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova, who advanced to the Wimbledon quarterfinals and made a finals appearance in Birmingham, England; Klara Koukalova, a victor in Florianopolis and finals attendee in Rio de Janeiro and Hobart; Elina Svitolina, who advanced to the semifinals in Nurnberg; and Casey Dellacqua, a Birmingham semifinalist.

Magda Rybarikova

Magda Rybarikova

Rounding out the field are Magdalena Rybarikova, a four-time WTA tournament winner and semifinalist at s’-Hertogenbosch; Kurumi Nara, winner in Rio de Janeiro; Camila Giorgi, who advanced to the finals in Katowice; and Bojana Jovanovski.

“The 2014 Connecticut Open presented by United Technologies player field is loaded with talent – Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova and Wimbledon Finalist Genie Bouchard; Defending Connecticut Open Champion Simona Halep and four-time Connecticut Open Champion Caroline Wozniacki; and rising stars such as Spaniard Garbine Muguruza and American Coco Vandeweghe,” said Worcester. “All told, we have three of the top 10 players in the world, eight of the top 20, and with the men’s event featuring James Blake, Andy Roddick and Jim Courier, the tournament promises to be exceptionally entertaining this year.”

On Wednesday, August 20, Fairfield native James Blake, a two-time Connecticut Open Champion and former top-five ranked player, will matchup against Jim Courier, a four-time Grand Slam Champion and former World No. 1. On Thursday, August 21, Blake will face-off against Andy Roddick, another former World No. 1 and Grand Slam Champion. Both matches will be played following the 7:00 p.m. WTA feature match on their respective nights, and they will be best of three sets, with a super tie-break played for the third set. In addition, fans interested in participating in a Pro-Am with these American stars before the matches, or who want to capitalize on a party complete with dinner and a “meet and greet,” should visit http://www.ctopen.org for more information.

The field will be completed in the coming weeks with the addition of four wildcards, which the tournament will award, and the addition of six players who will advance through the 48 player qualifying draw. The first two seeds at the tournament will receive a bye.

—M. Van Tuinen, CT Open

Tiafoe, Arconada Win Inaugural @CitiOpen Wild Card Challenge @TheJTCC

Tiafoe, Arconada Win Inaugural @CitiOpen Wild Card Challenge @TheJTCC
Stephan Fogleman, Tennis East Coast

Usue Arconada (Photo: S. Fogleman)

Usue Keeps Busy during MTO

Usue Keeps Busy during MTO

Last month, when the Citi Open announced that the Junior Tennis Champions Center would host their first annual Wild Card Challenge, the JTCC trotted out their big names as marquee participants. Francis Tiafoe and Usue Arconada headlined the event, and the JTCC didn’t disappoint. Yesterday, Tiafoe and Arconada nabbed qualifying wild cards to the Citi Open in Washington next month, and they both did it in straight sets on a scorching day on the blue hard courts on which they train.

Arconada & Morton

For Arconada, it’s a return trip to Washington. Last year, she became the second-youngest player in WTA history to win her debut qualifying match. Last year, she was given a wild card. This year, she earned it by besting Skylar Morton 7-6(4), 7-5 in the final of a 29-player tournament. Morton was noticeably affected by the heat in the second set of yesterday’s final, wherein she got sick right before serving for set point of the second set.

“I had a pretty nice run. I had some good matches. Had a good match against Skylar today and that was great. We had a long match in the sun. It was really hot out there, but I got it through.”

As far as the heat, Arconada said that “Skylar had a little trouble with the heat. She’s been training here for the past 6 months while she’s taking a break from college. I was feeling a little nauseous after she threw up. I did not like seeing that”.

And what’s it like playing against a friend like Morton in a meaningful match?

“It’s pretty hard, but when you step on the court, you don’t think about your friendship”, she said.

Tiafoe also defeated a friend yesterday to win the Wild Card Challenge, and it happened to be Usue’s brother, Jordi Arconada. Tiafoe showed off his dazzling forehand in the 6-1, 7-6 win. This will be Tiafoe’s first time as a player at Citi Open, a tournament he’s been attending as a fan since he was five years old.

Look at you, JTCC. Looking strong!

Francis Tiafoe

Francis Tiafoe

N. American Women Roll in Roland Garros Warm-Ups: @GenieBouchard, @MonicaAce93 Puig Win WTA Titles

N. American Women Roll in Roland Garros Warm-Ups: Bouchard, Puig Win 1st WTA Titles

Genie Bouchard (Photo: S. Fogleman)

US Fans, look just outside your back window to find the next great WTA stars.

Playing in her second career WTA final, Eugenie Bouchard captured her maiden singles title on Saturday thanks to a 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Czech Karolina Pliskova at the WTA International Series event in Nurnberg, Germany.

Before the match, Bouchard was the highest ranked player behind only Sloane Stephens without a title and the 20-year-old Canadian was determined to change that stat. She need less than 30 minutes to win the first set 6-2, losing just four points on serve. Bouchard led 4-2 in the second set before Pliskova reeled off four straight games to force a decisive third set. There were five breaks of serve in the final frame with three going the way of Bouchard which allowed her to come away with the victory. She becomes the first Canadian to win a WTA singles titles since Aleksandra Wozniak, who was crowned champion in Stanford in 2008.

With the victory, Bouchard will reach a new career-high ranking on Monday. She will now travel to Roland-Garros where she will face Israel’s Shahar Peer in the first round.

Puig

Speaking of 20-year-old maiden champions, Monica Puig became the only Puerto Rican to win a women’s title, besting home court fave Silvia Soler-Espinosa of Spain, 6-4, 6-3 yesterday at the Strasbourg International final in France.

Puig dominated the match and is now 1-0 in WTA finals. Although Puerto Rico is US territory, Puig flies under the Boricuan flag and is intensely proud of her island heritage. Still, she’s every bit a North American as Genie Bouchard. She’ll come close to returning to her career-high ranking of #41 tommorow.

Puig opens with Samantha Stosur in the first round at Roland Garros.

—Compiled with report from Tennis Canada

Summer Sneaking Up on Us: @CitiOpen, @TennisHalloFame Announce Early Player Fields

Summer Sneaking Up on Us: @CitiOpen, @TennisHalloFame Announce Early Player Fields

Bryan Brothers, Isner, Gasquet, Hewitt, Stephens Commit Early to Citi Open
Isner, Hewitt, Baghdatis, Kyrgios, Mahut In at Hall of Fame Tennis Championships

The countdowns to the Citi Open and the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships have officially started.

Sloane Stephens

Fans can watch their favorite stars in action and up close on the East Coast this summer. Early commitments to Citi Open include ATP World Tour Rankings No. 1 doubles team Bob and Mike Bryan, top-ranked American John Isner, top-ranked French player Richard Gasquet, and top-ranked Australian Lleyton Hewitt. On the women’s side, fan favorite Sloane Stephens, ranked No. 16 in the WTA Tour, will make a return appearance. Full player fields will be determined and announced approximately six weeks prior to the start of that tournament.

Citiopen Official Site

Citi Open runs from July 26 – August 3 at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center at 16th and Kennedy Streets NW. To purchase, fans can click the link at www.citiopentennis.com and search for Citi Open, or call the tournament hotline at 202-721-9500.

John Isner, ATP Newport, 2012 Copyright TennisEastCoast.com

In Newport, Defending champion Nicolas Mahut of France has committed to the player field for the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, where he captured both the singles and doubles titles last year. In addition, two wild cards have been awarded to Marcos Baghdatis, an exciting player formerly ranked in the world top-10, and Nick Kyrgios of Australia who achieved the world No. 1 ITF Juniors ranking in 2013. The three new entries to the field will join No. 1 American John Isner and Australian great Lleyton Hewitt in that tournament, which will be played at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I., July 5 – 13. The Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, which is held directly after Wimbledon, is the only event played on grass courts in North or South America, and the only ATP World Tour event in New England.

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“Tennis season has finally arrived in New England and we are gearing up for a great tournament this summer at the International Tennis Hall of Fame,” commented Tournament Director Mark Stenning. “Nico Mahut was unstoppable in Newport last summer and we are glad to welcome him back as defending champion. Marcos Baghdatis and Nick Kyrgios are exciting players to watch, and we know the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships fans will enjoy seeing them compete.”

Nicolas Mahut won both the singles and doubles titles at the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships last year, following an epic couple of days of competition in which inclement weather forced him to play four matches in 24 hours. Mahut entered the Newport tournament last year ranked world No. 127. Since winning in Newport, he has consistently climbed the ATP World Tour rankings and is currently world No. 38, having reached a career high of world No. 37 earlier this month. Mahut’s victory in Newport last year was his second career title, having won his first just weeks prior at the Topshelf Open at s-Hertogenbosch in The Netherlands. With countryman Michael Llodra, Mahut was a finalist at the French Open in doubles last year. Inclusive of his 2013 Newport titles, he has won two singles titles and eight doubles titles.

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus has been a staple of the ATP World Tour since the early 2000s. He has achieved notable wins against some of the world’s best players including Andy Roddick, Lleyton Hewitt, and Andy Murray, and has been involved in many long, exciting matches. He is recognized for the energy that he brings to each match, and for his ability to draw fans in. In 2006, Baghdatis reached a career high of world No. 8 and won his first career title with a victory at the China Open. He has finished the season ranked in the world top-50 six times in the past eight years, and has won four ATP World Tour titles. Baghdatis made his Davis Cup debut for the Cyprus Davis Cup team in 2000 as a 14-year-old. He has been a dedicated and successful player for his country ever since, and has been instrumental in advancing the team from the lowest division of Davis Cup to move up two levels into the Euro/Africa Group II. With 43 straight wins, he is one of the most successful Davis Cup players of all time.

Nineteen-year old Australian Nick Kyrgios had a break through season just about this time last year, and has been going strong ever since. Kyrgios was given a wild card into the 2013 French Open, at which he won his first career ATP level match, defeating then world No. 52 Radek Stepanek in three tiebreak sets. Also last year, Kyrgios won the Australian Open junior title and the Wimbledon junior doubles title. He achieved the world No. 1 ITF Juniors ranking. This season, Krygios won back-to-back Challenger Tour titles in April. Earlier this year he represented Australia in Davis Cup competition. Next week, he is set to play in the French Open again, and has been training with Roger Federer in advance of the tournament. He is currently ranked world No. 161.

Tickets for the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships, including access to the International Tennis Hall of Fame Enshrinement Ceremony on July 12, are available now. Hall of Fame Members save $5 on tickets, and enjoy many other benefits throughout tournament week, including access to a Member Lounge, first-in-line status for autographs, and much more. Tickets and membership info is available on HallofFameTennisChampionships.com or by phone at (401) 849-6053.

—-S. Pegarido/A. McLaughlin