This tennis week features an ATP 500 event in Washington DC and an ATP250 tournament in Kitzbuhel, Austria. Washington’s Citi Open, being played at Rock Creek Park, is one of the 13 ATP Tour 500 tournaments and this year it has world’s two top 5 players in Andy Murray and Kei Nishikori. While Murray is yet to begin his singles campaign, Nishikori has already moved into the third round albeit with a first set loss against world no.95 Australian James Duckworth. The early news from the Generali Open at Kitzbuhel is about the Austrian wild card Dennis Novak upsetting Great Britain’s Aljaz Bedene in three sets. It was 21-year old Novak’s first ever victory in an ATP event and it went off to a flying start.
Kei Nishikori was playing his first match since his second round retirement from the Wimbledon 2015 due to a left calf injury. The transformation from grass to hard court and lack of match practice showed in Nishikori’s game as he struggled in first set against Duckworth. The two players traded breaks in the first set that finally went to the tiebreak. Nishikori held a set point in the tiebreak but Duckworth saved it. The Australian produced winners, when it mattered most and won the tiebreak 10-8. The Japanese bounced back with authority in the second set and showed why he is world’s no.5 player. His forceful play resulted in the second set being decided at 6-1 in just 29 minutes. The Japanese carried the momentum in the decider and walked away with a 6-7, 6-1, 6-4 victory. Nishikori’s third round opponent will either be 16th seed Argentine Leonardo Mayer or Slovenian Blaz Rola.
In another interesting contest in Washington former world No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt played against his younger compatriot John-Patrick Smith. Hewitt, who is currently no.283 in Emirates ATP rankings, fought valiantly against Smith, who made the older Australian run from one side to another. Hewitt was equal to the task and didn’t concede any easy point. In the end, Hewitt won the match 6-3, 6-4 and entered the second round. Hewitt has gone from a contender in Grand Slams to a role model for younger and emerging Australian players on tour. The veteran Australian has announced that he will retire from tennis as a player after the 2016 Australian Open. Therefore, it is the last time that he is playing in Washington, where he won the title in 2004.
In other notable matches of Citi Open on Tuesday, Argentine qualifier Guido Pella defeated Croatia’s Ivan Dodig 6-3, 6-7, 7-5; Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller beat Tunisia’s Malek Jaziri 6-3, 7-5; Australian Sam Groth upset Brazilian Thomaz Bellucci 7-6, 4-6, 6-3; Canada’s Vasek Pospisil beat USA’s Donald Young 7-5, 6-3 and in a hard-fought battle, USA’s Sam Querrey defeated Japan’s Go Soeda 6-3, 5-7, 6-4.
In the Generali Open at Kitzbuhel Austria, local wild card Dennis Novak caused a major upset in his first ever win in an ATP World Tour Tournament. The 21-year old Austrian, who has Dominic Thiem’s father Wolfgang Thiem as his coach defeated Britain’s Aljaz Bedene 6-7, 6-4, 6-1 in 2 hours and 11 minutes. Novak’s second round opponent will be Italian third seed Fabio Fognini.
In other results of the Generali Open, Argentina’s Federico Delbonis defeated Spaniard Pablo Carreno Busta 7-5, 6-4; two-time champion Robin Haase advanced, when his Argentinian opponent Juan Monaco retired; Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu beat fellow countryman Kenny De Schepper 6-2, 6-2; Colombia’s Santiago Giraldo defeated Brazil’s Rogerio Dutra Silva 7-5, 6-2; Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman beat no.8 seeded Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas 6-3, 6-4 and Germany’s Philippe Kohlschreiber defeated compatriot Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 6-7, 6-3.