My sister and I went to the Citi Open Wednesday, getting our tickets just after Andy Murray was confirmed as playing his first match on that day. The tournament is pretty familiar stomping ground for us now, but this year the appearance of one of the Big Four brought about huge crowds beyond what the tournament usually sees on a weekday. Although Murray was hardly the big name in the field, although he was the biggest; DC was also a stop on Lleyton Hewitt’s farewell tour, and while Viktoria Azarenka had to pull out, Samantha Stosur is currently having quite a run in the women’s field.
Stosur was in fact the first player we sat down to in the main stadium. She was playing Irina Falconi, a match that sounded good on paper, and was, somewhat, in the second set, but Falconi did not bring her best, especially in the first, while despite a brain cramp in the second Stosur did; the first set especially was a rout:
After Stosur had won; we went over to the Grandstand to see Alize Cornet play Louisa Chirico, who had greatly improved since we saw her hand her first match in qualifying to Michelle Larcher de Brito two years ago. Cornet still had the better skillset, but was struggling with her mental issues. Still, we got a chance to witness her demonstrate her power:
We stayed there a short time, enduring the heat of the day, until Hewitt and Feliciano Lopez were ready to get underway in the stadium, to which we then retreated to enjoy farewell tennis from old guys and our seats under the awning.
Watching Hewitt win the first set was fun. Lopez ultimately got the better of him, but first he had to struggle to win the second set, and to make matters worse for him, Chirico starting to look like she was going to pull off the upset in the Grandstand. The setup of the tournament is such that it is easy to watch what’s going on in the Grandstand from the back of the seats under the awning in the stadium, and a whole bunch of people(my sister eventually included) went up there, and most of them were enthusiastically and (more importantly) loudly in support of Chirico. This resulted in more than one moment where Hewitt winning a point was accompanied by ear-splitting cheers that actually had nothing to do with the two men, but kind of sounded otherwise, and sadly for Feli, that never seemed to happen when he won a point. By the time Cornet & Chirico were deep in the third set and apparently were both letting the nerves get to them, he was clearly very put out by it, and the umpire admonished the crowd, which had absolutely no effect. Chirico finally won it in the third set tiebreak, just before Lopez took the second set, and he was then able to win the third in peace.
My sister and I didn’t watch the third, though; by then the heat had broken, and so we went to pay a visit to the smaller courts. Our next match we went to was Lauren Davis versus Monica Niculescu, on the court called Grandstand 2.
We ended up watching half a set of this before Niculescu won, although there were plenty of points that both players should be lauded for.
After getting dinner, we went back to Grandstand 2, where Irina-Camelia Begu was playing Polona Hercog.
This was very much a battle of the hard-hitters, and one about evenly matched. However, Hercog could not match Begu’s dramaticism. At one point a line-call made her so mad she dropped to her knees, recitied a prayer in Romanian, and then argued with the umpire, whom she called the “worst umpire ever, whenever I have you” That was enough drama for us before it was finally time for Andy Murray to take the court, so we headed back to the stadium.
Unfortunately, he was not playing his best that night, while opponent Temuryaz Gabashvili proved in the mood to pull off one of his upsets. He proved able to make some great shots, one of which he used to break Murray for the second time and win the first set, at which point I decided to head back to Grandstand 2 and watching Begu and Hercog finish up. Begu broke for that one about a minute before I got there, so I watch a little bit of Leonardo Mayer & Blaz Rola, who hit the ball so hard it was a blur to watch, and a bit of Hewitt playing doubles with Sam Groth.
I eventually went back to the stadium in time to watch Murray pull out the second set, though not without considerable difficulty. I ended up going to the top of the awning for the rest of the match, watching both it and Alexander Zverev playing Kevin Anderson on the Grandstand, a match he would eventually win. Watching Zverev’s attractive game and occasional dramatics proved a good distraction as Murray continued to struggle, ultimately losing the match in the third set tiebreaker, which was especially painful when he served for it at one point:
We left right after that; it was past eleven by then, and Andy losing was a pretty gloomy end to what had otherwise been a pretty great afternoon. Although things got much more cheering the following day, when the news broke his and Kim are having a kid! Since then, just about everyone we saw win has now lost, except Stosur, which is the way of tennis tournaments. Although I can’t say I was unhappy when I heard Gabashvili had gone out.