By: Ben Raby (www.twitter.com/benraby31)
After sweeping through qualifying over the weekend rising star Coco Gauff will be among the headliners as main draw play continues at the Citi Open.
Gauff, who is competing for the first time since her improbable run at Wimbledon, has come as advertised in D.C. while earning a pair of straight-sets wins in the qualifying draw. The 15-year-old now turns her attention to a first-round match against Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
Given the buzz and energy that could be felt on Stadium Court during Gauff’s qualifying matches over the weekend, a raucous atmosphere surely awaits on the more intimate John Harris Court where Gauff-Diyas will be the third match of the day.
In other action on the women’s side, No.1 seed Sloane Stephens meets Rebecca Peterson of Sweden at 2:00 p.m. on Stadium Court. Stephens has competed in the Citi Open every year since the tournament added a WTA draw in 2011. The top-ranked American earned her first career title here in 2015.
“As an American playing at home, it’s obviously very nice,” Stephens said Monday. “Playing close to home with good fans and good support, it’s always nice. It’s always been good vibes and obviously I got a title here, so it’s always been a good place for me.”
No.2 seed Madison Keys will be featured in an All-American match on the Grandstand as she takes on D.C. native Hailey Baptiste. Baptiste, a 17-year-old wild card who trains at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, will be making her WTA main draw debut.
On the men’s side, Washington area native and JTCC alum Frances Tiafoe will also look to benefit from a spirited home crowd as he takes on Alexander Bublik of Kazakhstan on Stadium Court.
Tiafoe, who reached the quarterfinals at the Australian Open this year, is making his fourth career appearance in his hometown tournament. The Washington Kastles star is again looking forward playing in his own backyard.
“Everyone is expecting me to play big here and I’m ready to do so,” he said. “I’m ready to compete and have some fun and get the crowd into it and get some wins for my city.”
The evening schedule on Stadium Court begins with No.2 seed Karen Khachanov facing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a second-round showdown. That will be followed by Nick Kyrgios taking on University of Virginia alum Thai-Son Kwiatkowski in a first-round match.
Other notable matches include rising American Reilly Opelka facing wild card Christopher Eubanks on John Harris Court. Opelka, 21, is coming off a semifinal appearance last week in Atlanta and arrives in Washington ranked a career-high No.43 in the world.
Fresh off an appearance in the Hamburg final on Sunday, Russia’s Andrey Rublev will look to fight off both jetlag and his first-round opponent, Bernard Tomic.
Tuesday will also feature of a double dose of wild card Jack Sock. The former world No.8, who is playing in his second tournament since returning from a thumb injury, will face Australian Jordan Thompson on Court 4. Sock will also be partnering with doubles legend Leander Paes in a first-round match against the All-Australian tandem of Alex de Minaur and John Peers.