Citi Open Day 6: Sensational Semis
The tennis was sizzling on Semifinal Saturday at the Citi Open. The weather, on the other hand, was remarkably cool after a week where hot, humid temperatures made headlines. When play wrapped up at 11:40 pm, the women’s doubles champions had been crowned and the stage had been set for Sunday’s remaining finals.
Kevin Anderson will get a chance to take home the biggest title of his career when he faces Alexander Zverev for the Citi Open crown. He earned that opportunity with a comprehensive 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 8 seed Jack Sock.
“It’s great to get another win today,” said Anderson, who has served a whopping 62 aces this week. “I felt I did quite a few things well today. There were things I could have done a little bit better, but the most important thing is I got the win and got myself the shot at the title tomorrow.”
It will be the 31-year-old South African’s third ATP World Tour 500-level final, and he’s hoping to show his determination on court with an extra dose of emotion.
“I’ve always been pretty neutral out there,” Anderson added. “I think just bringing my emotions to the forefront a little bit more brings out a better level of tennis for me. It’s something I’ve worked hard on in the past three months.”
Zverev will stand in Anderson’s way. The 20-year-old world No. 8 has continued to live up to his billing as the “next big thing” in men’s tennis. He dismantled Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-4 in 63 minutes for a chance to capture his fourth title of 2017.
“You can always try to find things [that you can do better], but I’m not going to try to find things,” Zverev said. “I just beat the world No. 9. I played well from the baseline and returned really well. I’m happy with how I played.”
The German owns a 2-0 head-to-head record over Anderson, with both contests having ended with a 6-4 third set. Sunday’s final could come down to confidence.
“It’s going to be a tough match. [Kevin] has been playing unbelievably well. He beat Dominic [Thiem], he beat Jack [Sock]. Hopefully I can come out with a win.”
After three semifinal appearances in D.C., 58th-ranked Ekaterina Makarova finally broke through on Saturday, staving off a hard-hitting Oceane Dodin 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 to reach her first Citi Open final.
“I was so happy that I passed the semifinal round, finally.” Makarova said with a laugh after the two-hour match. “I love this city. I’m enjoying so much everything that’s outside the court and on the court. It’s just comfortable and it looks like I love this tournament!”
Makarova will look to take her breakthrough one step further when she takes on Germany’s Julia Goerges for the title. The 28-year-old outlasted her countrywoman Andrea Petkovic 5-7, 6-4, 7-5 in a match that took two and a half hours. Goerges, currently ranked No. 40 in the world, was down a break twice in the final set, but rebounded to reach her third final of 2017.
Makarova may hold a slight mental edge heading into the Sunday’s 5:00 final. She beat Goerges handily in their only other meeting at the 2015 Australian Open, and she had several more hours of rest on Saturday.
Shuko Aoyama is a big fan of Washington D.C. The 29-year-old doubles specialist from Japan has now won here four times with four different partners. Today she teamed with Renata Voracova of the Czech Republic, taking out the first-time doubles team of Genie Bouchard and Sloane Stephens 6-3, 6-2.
“I don’t know why [I play well here],” she said, giggling. “I feel good to play on the courts. The crowd is so nice.”
It’s Aoyama’s second title alongside Voracova, who snuck a peek at the Citi Open wall of former champions on her way to the court today.
“I look and say, ‘Oh, it will be nice if we win!’” Voracova said. “We play before together, so we know each other, and we always play good together.”
Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares saved seven match points in Friday’s quarterfinal match, but weren’t so lucky on Saturday. Henri Kontinen and John Peers lived up to their top seed, ousting the two-time Grand Slam champions 6-7(4), 7-5, 10-8.
They’ll face recent Wimbledon champions Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo in the final after the duo overcame fan favorites Bob and Mike Bryan 7-6(5), 6-4.