Washington DC's Citi Open - 2014 US Open Seriesby: Nik Subramanian (guest blogger and ATP consultant/expert)
It’s hard to believe we are halfway through the summer already and just 6 weeks away from the US Open in NYC. The good news is that the last week of July in Washington, D.C. means great professional tennis action at the Citi Open in Rock Creek Park.
The players’ list is packed with young and upcoming talent like Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Vasek Pospisil, Genie Bouchard, and others. So let’s dive right into the players you'll want to watch this year.
The Citi Open promises a lot of great matches with the top ATP players competing for the prize. If you haven't done so, grab your tickets, we'll see you there.
TIP: Use Promo Code: USTA25 and get 25% OFF (valid for most sessions)
The Next Generation of Stars: 3 ATP Young Guns to WatchThe three guys who most agree represent the next generation of top 5 tennis players, are all in the Citi Open this year. Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, and Grigor Dimitrov have each had breakthroughs in 2014.
Kei Nishikori (Japan)
Kei Nishikori reached a career high ranking of 9 at the end of last year. Despite some injury worries, I expect he'll finish the year in the top 10 if he stays healthy. Kei is speedy, has amazing ground strokes, a great return, and is fun to watch. He's as no-nonsense on the court as they come and Coach Michael Chang has been trying to pass on his killer instinct and set higher goals for Kei this year. If he ends up playing on one of the side courts, be sure to watch Kei’s nimble footwork together with his amazing balance and core strength. It’s not as easy as he makes it look!
Milos Raonic (Canada)
Despite an ankle injury early in the year, Milos reached a career high ranking of number 6 in the world and is currently ranked 7. He's put up solid results in the Slams and Masters 1000's - his first Grand Slam QF at Roland Garros (l. to Djokovic), a first Grand Slam semi at Wimbledon, (l. to Federer), QFs in Indian Wells, Rome, and SFs in Monte Carlo. The consensus in the locker room is that Milos has the best serve on tour right now. While I doubt we'll see Milos attempt his 155mph serve, watch him with a seat behind the player's baseline to admire the variety of his serves (slice, kicker, flat) with pretty much the same ball toss. The weakest part of his game right now is his return, so look for that shot to improve as he works out the kinks with Coach Ivan Ljubicic.
Grigor Dimitrov (Bulgaria)
If you hear a bunch of screaming, hysteric teenage girls around the practice courts, you've probably stumbled onto one of Grigor Dimitrov's practice sessions. Grigor was already somewhat of a celebrity in 2013, but after teaming up with super coach, Roger Rasheed, last year, Grigor is fitter, stronger, and extremely motivated to get to the top of men's tennis. Grigor's always had talent to burn, but he's found a way to channel it and I expect he's going to have a great 2014. He's just broken into the top 10 this month, following an SF showing at Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic in 4 close sets), QFs at the Australian (l. to Nadal in 4 close sets) and has a won a title on all three surfaces in 2014. I'd be shocked if Grigor does not make it to the year-end finals this year and be part of or finish near the top 5. Watch Dimitrov from any seat in the stadium, look out for his precise first serve and his use of speed offensively to win points. You’ll find Grigor is an all-around crowd charmer and will throw in a trick shot and a tweener every now and then.