By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
A tremendously strong men’s doubles field is expected to be a main attraction throughout this week’s Citi Open and Monday was no exception.
One of the more intriguing doubles pairings in recent memory took center stage in Rock Creek Park as singles stars Stefanos Tsitsipas and Nick Kyrgios took to Stadium Court for a primetime matchup against No.1 seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah.
Cabal and Farah ultimately prevailed 6-3, 3-6, 10-5 in a competitive first-round encounter that suggested to Tsitsipas and Kyrgios that their experimental partnership may be worth revisiting.
“I enjoyed it,” Tsitsipas said shortly after the match. “Despite the loss, I felt very comfortable. We enjoyed playing together. We weren’t forcing it, so I was really happy.”
Added Kyrgios: “I really enjoyed playing with Stef. He’s one of the best players in the world right now. For me to step out there with one of the best players in the world against the best doubles team, it was a lot of fun. I thought we played really well. I’d love to play again.”
The second-seeded doubles tandem of Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo also advanced to the quarterfinals with a straight-sets win over Rajeev Ram and Joe Salisbury. The win was the 500th of Melo’s doubles career.
Women’s doubles also drew plenty of attention Monday evening, as wild cards Coco Gauff and Catherine McNally beat Zarina Diyas and Lin Zhu 6-3, 6-2 before a standing room only crowd on the Grandstand. Gauff and McNally, who won the 2018 Girls’ Doubles title at the U.S. Open, were competing together for the first time as pros.
In men’s singles, American wild card Tommy Paul beat Denis Kudla 6-0, 6-4 in the first match of the day on Stadium Court. With the win, Paul secured a second-round date Wednesday against the top-seeded Tsitsipas.
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fired 18 aces and never faced a break point against as he held off Canadian qualifier Brayden Schnur 6-4, 7-6(2). Tsonga returns to Stadium Court Tuesday night for a second-round date with No.2 seed Karen Khachanov.
In what may have been the match of the day, American wild card Bjorn Fratangelo outlasted 2016 Citi Open finalist Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-7(14), 7-6(5) in a marathon that lasted 2 hours 32 minutes on John Harris Court.
Other men’s winners included: Tim Smyczek, Alexander Bublik, Marius Copil, Adrian Mannarino, Lloyd Harris and Hubert Hurkacz.
On the women’s side, No.3 seed Sofia Kenin impressed in her Washington debut with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Jennifer Brady. American Lauren Davis beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-1, 6-2 on Stadium Court while fellow Americans Christina McHale and Jessica Pegula sent the first two seeds packing.
McHale beat No.7 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in 2 hours 18 minutes, while Pegula eliminated No.6 Katerina Siniakova 6-4, 6-3.
Other women’s winners included: Iga Swiatek and Russian qualifier Varvara Gracheva.