This year, having endured a week and a day of metro track work extending my commute by half an hour in the morning and much more in the evenings, on hearing it was still going on this Monday decided I would take the afternoon off and go with my sister to the Citi Open, to at least escape half the ordeal. When we agreed on this, there were storms predicted for today, with some chance they would hit yesterday instead. But if one wants to go on a certain day, one will always subject oneself to the weather of that day.
We got there short after two, and conditions were what we expected; hot and sunny enough we had apply sunscreen, wear broad-brimmed hats, and drink lots of overpriced water. We initially dropped into the stadium to watch Samantha Stosur win the first set over Alla Kudryatseva, but then went to the Grandstand to watch Yanina Wickmayer play Madison Brengle. That ended up being the best match we saw that day; both ladies came to play, with some good shotmaking from both and some hard-hitting from Wickmayer that eventually made the difference in straight sets, much to the crowd’s disappoint, but Brengle had still acquitted herself well. With Stosur having bageled her opponent in the second, there was then a half-hour break before the rest of the day’s matches were scheduled to begin at four. We went to the food area so my sister could have lunch, and got back to the Grandstand to find Tim Smyczek and James Duckworth warming up, except the storm that had already made clear it was coming a day early arrived sooner than anyone anticipated, and when leaves started blowing like wild across the court, play was called off and everyone ran for shelter.
Along with many others in the crowd, my sister and I initially took refuge in the merchandise store. It was there that we got the word that the storm was expected to last long enough play might not resume for two more hours!
Eventually we relocated to the main stadium, where people were taking chairs from the stands and sitting on them under the awning. The hats we had brought ended up being cushions instead; we sat on them to avoid having to sit directing on the wet chairs.
However, when the rain at last let up, and after I ate while they staff set to work cleaning the courts, we went back to the Grandstand. Drying courts can take a little longer at the small events; the rain had been gone for well over half an hour before the crews finally took the noisy drying machines away.
Then, at last, we had Tim Smyczek versus James Duckworth.
Duckworth is a hard hitter, and Smyczek might have beaten him the only other time they played, last night his own hitting wasn’t enough to answer the Australian player. He held out for much of the first set, but when Duckworth broke to take that 7-5, things went to hell in the second. When Duckworth was up 5-0, my sister and I decided to return to the stadium, where Denis Kudla was now playing John Millman.
Kudla had a bit more power than Smyczek, and early on this looked like even enough a match. But it wasn’t a good day to be North American in general, especially not against the Aussies. In the end, Millman too broke to take it 7-5(both 1st sets even lasted exactly 48 minutes!), and things went to hell for Kudla too, and once again we fled when it was 5-0(the final scores weren’t the same though; Smyczek ultimately got a game before losing, while Kudla got bageled). Back to the Grandstand for the final match we watched that day, which was Vasek Pospisil versus Yuichi Sugita, although when we got there is Pospisil having just won the first set 6-1, we weren’t sure how much longer it would last.
However, ultimately it was another painful chapter in the saga of Pospisil’s downward spiral. He stopped making too many shots, while Sugita proved to have strength and shots to best him, especially in the second set, which went 6-2. The match ended up being decided in a third-set tiebreak, which culminated with Pospisil ending the match with a double fault.
Like last year, it was a gloomy end to the day, especially one with such reduced and often disappointing tennis. But there was some good tennis to watch in it too, especially from the ladies. Perhaps next year we’ll try to see more of them. And go on a day where it won’t rain.