In its first year under new management, Washington’s Citi Open is maintaining at least one core tenet of the hard-court tennis tournament’s previous era: A field of players centered around young, diverse and on-the-rise talent, with a smattering of more established fan favorites committed to play as well.
Mark Ein, the Washington-based venture capitalist who took over management of the tournament earlier this year, announced Monday that Stefanos Tsitsipas, the No. 6 player in the world and a semifinalist at the Citi Open last year, will headline a group that includes three top 10 ATP players as well as local product Frances Tiafoe, ranked No. 35. On the women’s side, 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, ranked No. 7, and teenage Canadian phenom Bianca Andreescu, ranked No. 22, have committed to play.
Joining Tsitsipas and Tiafoe in the men’s field are past Citi Open champions No. 7 Kei Nishikori, who won the tournament in 2015, and No. 16 Gael Monfils, who won in 2016.
No. 8 Kevin Anderson, a past Wimbledon and U.S. Open finalist, No. 14 Daniil Medvedev, No. 36 Nick Kyrgios, Washington mainstays Bob and Mike Bryan and another Canadian up-and-comer, 18-year-old Felix Auger-Aliassime, round out what Ein called the first wave of player commitments.
“This is what we wanted. The idea is to have a deep field of young, exciting players rising, a lot of fan favorites and a lot of previous champions,” Ein said in an interview Monday. “And the idea with that deep field is that every night you’re going to have compelling matches with some of the world’s best, most exciting players.”
Apart from the player field, Ein said he is reimagining the fan experience of the Citi Open, which is scheduled to run from July 27 to Aug. 4 at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Northwest Washington. Ein is planning to overhaul the food and beverage options, add new hospitality areas available to all fans, provide bike valets and scooter services, and improve parking conditions that have bedeviled fans for years.
“Everything down to the fact that we’re getting better chairs for the lower bowl, we’re really looking at every element of the fan experience and trying to elevate it,” Ein said.