Mubadala Citi DC Open Ushers In New Chapter Of Pro Tennis in Nation’s Capital

Mubadala Citi DC Open (photo: Michael Dickens)

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2023 (by Michael Dickens)

The Mubadala Citi DC Open, a one-of-a-kind in the world combined ATP/WTA 500 event, begins main draw play at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park on Monday. It will usher in a new chapter of pro tennis in the nation’s capital city that is rich in history.

Many of the world’s best men’s and women’s players are entered in the 54th edition of the week-long event in Washington, D.C., in the run-up to next month’s US Open. The tournament founded by Arthur Ashe, Donald Dell and John Harris – the fourth-longest running pro event in the U.S. and longest in a public park – held its main draw ceremony at Market Square on the Tennis Center grounds Friday.

Hosted by tournament emcee Andrew Krasny and chairman Mark Ein, it featured tennis dignitaries such as last year’s men’s runner-up Yoshihito Nishioka (ranked No. 31 and seeded 10th this year) and women’s defending champion Liudmila Samsonova, ranked No. 17, who returns this time seeded eighth. There were also political dignitaries such as D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, new tournament director Dani Vallverdu, as well as new and existing representatives for the co-title sponsors Mubadala and Citi, too.

The top seeds for this year’s tournament are World No. 9 Taylor Fritz and World No. 4 Jessica Pegula, who won the 2019 edition of the women’s event when it was a 250-series tournament.

The men’s 48-player draw includes nine Top-30 players: No. 9 Fritz, No. 10 Frances Tiafoe, No. 12 Felix Auger-Aliassime, No. 16 Hubert Hurkacz, No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 26 Alexander Bublik, No. 27 Adrian Mannarino, No. 28 Sebastian Korda and No. 30 Daniel Evans. All 16 of the seeds are currently ranked inside the Top 50. Defending champion Nick Kyrgios withdrew earlier this week due to injury.

The women’s 28-player draw features eight seeded players who are all seeded inside the Top 20. They include: No. 4 Pegula, No. 5 Caroline Garcia, No. 7 Coco Gauff, No. 9 Maria Sakkari, No. 11 Daria Kasatkina, No. 15 Belinda Bencic, No. 16 Madison Keys and No. 17 Liudmila Samsonova, who is the defending champion.

“All summer long, we’ve been talking about our incredible player field, which has grown to include five Grand Slam champions, six Top 10 stars, three former World No. 1s, and so many fan favorities,” Ein said in a statement.

Ein added: “Qualifying weekend will be like a tournament of its own, and (Saturday), players and fans throughout the greater DMV area and around the world will get a chance to preview the first matches of this truly historic edition of our tournament.”

The men’s 24-player qualifying draw, which begins play on Saturday, includes 16 Americans led by Virginia native Denis Kudla and California’s Brandon Holt. The top seed is No. 156 Juncheng (Jerry) Shang of China. The six players who win twice over the weekend will be elevated to the main draw.

The women’s 16-player qualifying draw is filled with star power and has plenty of familiar names – such as 2021 US Open finalist Leylah Fernandez of Canada and Great Britain’s Katie Boulter, plus 17-year-old recent Wimbledon girls’ junior champion Clervie Ngounoue, who is from Washington, D.C. The four players who win twice will earn berths in the main draw.

While Top-10 U.S. players Fritz and Hyattsville, Md. native Tiafoe are carrying the American flag for men’s tennis in the nation’s capital city, there are plenty of others right behind them, including Korda, No. 32 Christopher Eubanks, fresh off his Wimbledon quarterfinal run, No. 41 Ben Shelton and No. 46 J.J. Wolf. The American women will be well represented in the main draw, too. In addition to Pegula, Gauff and Keys, there’s former major champions Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin, as well as Danielle Collins, Jennifer Brady and Bernarda Pera.

Qualifying draw play for both men and women begins Saturday morning at 10 a.m. (Eastern). Main draw action starts on Monday, July 31 at noon (Eastern). Grounds passes only remain for the weekend and a very limited number of tickets remain for the remainder of the tournament, available through the tournament website.