Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece is headed to Washington, D.C. for singles and doubles action. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)
Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece is headed to Washington, D.C. for singles and doubles action. (AP Photo/Claude Paris)|Associated Press

Tennis Monday: Abrams previews men's doubles at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C., with Tsitsipas, Kyrgios, Murray, Paes, and more

Matches are 2:15 pm and 7 pm EDT.

Neal Abrams

Neal Abrams

Citi Open

Washington, D.C.

Monday 7/29/19

The qualifying for the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. has already taken place, and the big news for the tournament is actually on the Women’s side, where American 15-year-old Coco Gauff, who had her professional coming-out party in London at Wimbledon just a couple of weeks ago, has made the main draw by putting her wild card into the qualifying event to good use. She will sell some tickets and generate some interest. The Men’s draw has some fine players in it, and the top seeds include Stefanos Tsitsipas, Karen Khachanov, Daniil Medvedev, Kevin Anderson, John Isner and Marin Cilic. Two time defending champion Sascha Zverev has chosen not to enter this year, and that might be good for him as he just lost a close semi-final match to Nikoloz Basilashvili 7-6 in the third across the pond at the Hamburg European Open. But losing semi-finalist Andrey Rublev will make his way across the Atlantic and will be ready for his first round clash with Australian Bernie Tomic, who recently acknowledged that he relaxes after matches by smoking a lot of weed.

What has really caught my eye in Washington is the Men’s Doubles draw, which is absolutely loaded, and where every match should be mouth-wateringly good. Right off the bat, the top seeds, and this year’s Wimbledon champions, the Colombian due of Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah square off against the intriguing team of Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios. This match I want to see in the worst way, and I’d forgo any singles matchup early in the week to take in this one. In the top quarter, right below Cabal/Farah—Kyrgios/Tsitsipas in the draw is another match that looks to be hugely entertaining. Leander Paes, the 45-year old Indian maestro, is paired with Jack Sock, who was part of the winning doubles team that won both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open doubles titles in 2018. They take on the pair from Down Under, John Peers and Alex de Minaur, the “Demon”. If that wasn’t juicy enough, still in the same half lies the fourth seeded team of Mate Pavic and Bruno Soares against Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau, another established top-tier doubles team. The winner of that match will likely take on the Bryan Brothers, generally considered to be the best doubles team of all-time, who should come through a first round match with Denis Kudla and Treat Huey.

The bottom half of the draw? The reunification of brothers Andy and Jamie Murray (both Grand Slam champions—Andy in singles, and Jamie in doubles) will team up for the first time in at least three years to fight against the French team of Nico Mahut and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, another very successful established team who just a couple of weeks ago were in the Wimbledon finals. Whoever gets through that test will likely face third-seeded Raven Klaasen/Michael Venus, who have drawn Germans Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies initially, the only team that isn’t a marquee doubles name, but who won the French Open this year. In the bottom quarter lie the tough Croatian team of Nikola Mektic/Franko Skugor, who won Monte Carlo a couple of months ago, who play a team that comes out of the four team qualifying round, and the winner of that one will draw the winner of the second-seeded team of Lukasz Kubot/Marcelo Melo against Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury. All of these matches look interesting, and some are just too good to miss.

The doubles players are playing for the top prize of $123,000, with the team who finishes runner-up collecting $60,200 to split as they like. Needless to say, we’ll be seeing a lot of these teams next week in Cincinnati, after that in the Canadian Open, and finally in New York City to contest the U.S. Open Men’s doubles championships. And what makes the professional doubles matches especially exciting (some say maddeningly random, in fact) is that they play no-ad scoring, so every game is a tie-breaker, and if the teams are tied at one set apiece, they play a Champion’s Tiebreaker in lieu of a third set. The men’s doubles matches should be very exciting and entertaining, and especially, very close.

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