The hard court swing kicks up a gear next week in D.C. – here's what we'll be watching! By Chris Oddo | @TheFanChild | Friday, July 29, 2022

The Citi Open in Washington, D.C. will help kick the US Open Series into overdrive next week. It’s the first 500 event on hard courts for the men, and it features a star-studded cast that includes top-seeded Andrey Rublev, second-seeded Hubert Hurkacz, Andy Murray, Nick Kyrgios and Americans Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Reilly Opelka, Maxime Cressy, Sebastian Korda and Jenson Brooksby.

Tennis Express

View the men’s draw here:

There is also a women’s 250-level event that features former champion Jessica Pegula as well as Emma Raducanu, Simona Halep, plus American wild cards Sofia Kenin and Venus Williams. Adding in Sloane Stephens and Victoria Azarenka means that there are six Slam champs in the draw this year on the women's side at D.C.

View the women’s draw here:

Men’s storylines and first-rounders

There are myriad storylines in play as the road to the US Open heats up in August.

1. Andy Murray is looking to get his ranking up so he can be seeded in New York. The Scot opens with Mikael Ymer of Sweden and would face Aslan Karatsev in the second round if he makes it there.

2. Nick Kyrgios, if healthy, will play his first singles since reaching the Wimbledon final. Will the Aussie be a factor on hard courts this summer? If healthy, he should be. He opens with a first-round match with Marcos Giron then would face No.14-seeded Tommy Paul.

3. Denis Shapovalov needs some positive results, and the Canadian, seeded sixth, will look to change the tone of his very average season in the second round (after a bye). Shapo vaes either JJ Wolf or a qualifier. It looks like the No.6 seed has a favorable draw, what can he do with it?

4. American anthem? It’s going to be a big summer for the Americans, and Taylor Fritz is the top dog at the moment. Seeded third in D.C., it will be interesting to see if Fritz can back up the form he showed at Indian Wells, where he broke through and won his first Masters 1000 title. The 24-year-old is 29-11 on the year, and has not played since his heartbreaking defeat to Rafael Nadal in the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

5. Other seeded Americans are: No.4 Reilly Opelka, No.10 Frances Tiafoe, No.13 Maxime Cressy, No. 14 Tommy Paul. Sebastian Korda and Jenson Brooksby will also be waiting in the wings, and looking to do damage.

6. First-rounders to watch: Sebastian Korda v Ilya Ivaskha, Andy Murray v Mikael Ymer, Mackenzie McDonald v Emil Ruusuvuori.

Women’s storylines and first-rounders

1. Venus Williams will play her first singles match since last summer (Chicago), against a qualifier in the first-round. All eyes will be on the 42-year-old legend, who is also slated to play a full summer leading into the US Open. Can she possibly stay healthy and do some damage?

2. Sofia Kenin has been out since Indian Wells due to an ankle injury. She’s just 2-6 on the year, so expectations will be very low as she gets set to square off with Camila Osorio in round one. The goal? Get the feet wet and start moving in the right direction.

3. Raducanu + Tursunov – The British No.1 will play her first tournament since hooking up with Russian coach Dmitry Tursunov. Her first test will be stern – she drew Czech Marie Bouzkova in the first round. Bouzkova reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals and is slated to play the Prague semis on Saturday.

4. Clara Tauson returns – The promising Dane has lost four straight since Indian Wells, and retired from two of those losses. If healthy, she’s a rising force that is ticketed for the Top-10. She gets Andrea Petkovic in round one.

5. First-rounders to watch: Emma Raducanu v Marie Bouzkova, Venus Williams vs qualifier, Jessica Pegula vs Hailey Baptiste.