This year’s Citi Open draw began as a promising one for the nine Americans in the 32-player women’s field.
With no far-and-away top seed and limited star power, the path to the later rounds looked relatively clear, and a group of rising young American players seemed as likely as anyone to take it.
But by the end of Thursday’s second-round matches, only one American remained. Upsets slew favorites such as Sloane Stephens and Madison Keys, and more experienced players knocked out other youngsters such as Lauren Davis and Taylor Townsend.
Vania King was the only American woman to arrive at Rock Creek Park on Friday morning with a quarterfinal match on the schedule. By day’s end, no American had played a quarterfinal match. King withdrew from the tournament because of a right hip injury, the same injury that forced her to pull out of her doubles match with partner Townsend late Thursday.
“I was in a lot of pain yesterday,” said King, who said the pain escalated during her win over Christina McHale on Thursday. “I was hoping I would be able to play today, but I didn’t feel that much better.”
King said she doesn’t expect the injury to keep her out of the U.S. Open at the end of this month, but she said she will not play in the Rogers Cup next week. Her withdrawal from the Citi Open propelled Svetlana Kuznetsova into the semifinals Saturday.
Kuznetsova will face fellow Russian Ekaterina Makarova, at No. 2 the top seed remaining in the women’s draw. Makarova beat Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in straight sets Friday.
To get to the second round of the Citi Open, American Steve Johnson had to go through one of the game’s biggest servers, 6-foot-10 John Isner. By holding serve and with the help of a third-set tiebreak double fault, he did.
To get to the quarterfinals, Johnson had to survive another of the game’s tallest, hardest-hitting players, 6-11 Ivo Karlovic. By holding serve and with the help of another third-set tiebreak double fault, he did that, too.
In the quarterfinals, Johnson ran into Milos Raonic, the shortest of the trio at 6-5, but perhaps the most powerful server. Though Johnson pushed Raonic to a first-set tiebreak, the Canadian won 86 percent of first-serve points overall to take a 7-6, 6-2 victory.
“It [stinks] watching 500 serves go by you over the past three days,” Johnson joked. “But that’s tennis. Sometimes the other guy just plays too good.”
Raonic will face American Donald Young in one semifinal.
Richard Gasquet will meet either Santiago Giraldo or Vasek Pospisil in the other semifinal. The match between Giraldo and Pospisil was suspended because of rain with each player having won a set.