Yes, the tournaments at the CitiOpen are different sizes but just respect both!

The American hard court swing is underway and one of the first stops on the calendar is Washington. As of Monday Washington host’s the CitiOpen once again a tournament which has attracted a few top 20 players however there is an issue and all I’m asking for is a bit of respect.

The men’s tournament in Washington is an ATP 500 event with prize money of $1.75 million where as the women’s event is a smaller international event with prize money of $250,000 but played simultaneously which I don’t think is fair or respectful to the women’s tournament as it doesn’t get the respect it deserves.

The women’s tournament in Washington has only been going for a few years so needs time to grow but there is an obvious bias and would I say it is slightly sexist? Yes.

They make the decision to play the tournament at the same time, they could play them a week apart to give the men and women a share of the main courts.

Let me take you back to 2015 and the main court in Washington is the Stadium Court and over the eight days of play 30 men’s matches were played on the top court, want to guess how many women’s matches? 6…

I remember I was ready to watch Makarova v Pavlyuchenkova in the semi-finals of the women’s singles but at the same time the Bryan Brothers were about to walk on Court 1 for their semi-final in the men’s doubles and the powers that be in Washington decided last minute to swap the courts…

Is that fair? No

Just show respect.

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Why has scheduling at the CitiOpen in Washington favourited men’s matches over women’s matches?

For the last week 32 players from the WTA tour and 48 players from the ATP tour have been playing at the Citi Open in Washington however it has felt like only one of those tournaments is taken seriously. First of all I should start by saying the tournaments are not combined. The ATP event is an ATP 500 event which is the third highest after Grand Slam and Masters 1000 whereas the WTA event is a WTA International event which is the fifth highest behind Grand Slam, Premier Mandatory, Premier 5, Premier and then International. The WTA tournament is obviously a smaller one than the ATP one as shown in the prize money as well as the winner of the ATP won receives $343,000 where as the winner of the WTA tournament receives $43,000.

What in my opinion has been a disgrace this week has been the court share and it is something I wrote about the other day and the decision last night by the organisers was incredible and in my opinion sexist.

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Over the first 8 days of the tournament only 6 WTA matches have been on the main Stadium court which is unbelievable compared to the 30 ATP matches and a few of those ATP matches have been doubles! I understand the draw is bigger on the ATP side but to have a ratio 5:1 is simply pathetic!

There are a number of other tournaments round the world which hold ATP and WTA tournaments at the same time which aren’t always the same size but the court share for the main Stadium Court is much better than this.

Last night at the Citi Open Ekaterina Makarova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova were about to step out on Stadium court and The Bryan Brothers were about to step out on Grandstand 1 for their semi-final and suddenly the powers that be at the Citi Open decided to switch the matches pushing the women’s semi-final onto the smaller outside court and the men’s doubles onto the main Stadium Court is this right?

At this point there was a possibility that the top seed Ekaterina Makarova could get to the final without playing on the main court in Washington! However sadly for Makarova at one set all she had to retire due to injury. The women’s doubles final was also played yesterday but was played on an outside court to make way for a men’s doubles semi-final.

I understand the tournaments aren’t equal in size but if you’re going to host an ATP and WTA tournament at the same time it should be? Also it shouldn’t matter by the size of the tournament as the court share should be more even. The decision to move the women’s semi-final was something I’ve never seen before especially for no apparent reason, is Grandstand 1 not good enough for the men’s double match?

Citi Open 2015 – Nishikori defeats Cilic from a set down to make the final!

In their first meeting since the US Open final last year it was Kei Nishikori who managed the win this time round despite dropping the first set.

Watching the first set a few things I picked up from that were:

  • Unforced errors from Nishikori
  • Body serve works, use it more?
  • Cilic running majority of rallies

The first set was a set of tennis dominated from Cilic. Nishikori didn’t really get into any rhythm during the set and something that surprised me and they showed it on Sky Sports during the match at the end of the set was Kei’s return position. He stood at an angle and sometimes had his left foot sat on the baseline and sometimes a metre behind the baseline however with his body position being facing inside the court and he game himself little time to adapt his position to the serve out wide. Nishikori himself used the body serve a couple of times and it worked, it jammed up Cilic who played a short return and Nishikori moved up the court to produce the winner but didn’t use it a lot and ended up producing a lot of errors in the set. During the set I believe Nishikori only won 6 points on the Cilic serve and I believe 4 of those were in one game seeing break point after deuce but couldn’t convert.

At 1-0 and 30-15 to Nishikori a big chance came for 40-15 but his return of serve was so short Cilic popped up to hit the winner. Moments later an error from Cilic set up break point for Japanese player who broke after some good work off the backhand pushing Cilic back and forcing the error. Nishikori followed up with another hold for 3-0 in the set after saving a break point with Cilic suddenly playing a lot more errors in the set. After the hold of serve Nishikori called on the trainer for some treatment on his left leg. A complete collapse from Cilic followed, he started to serve poor, hit errors and Nishikori was returning serve much better to take a 4-0 lead! The set continued with more Nishikori dominance taking it 6-1.

The poor tennis continued from Cilic with more and more errors and Nishikori taking a 1-0 followed by 2-0 lead after a lovely backhand down the line. Where did the good tennis go from Marin?

The set continued on serve with both players playing well and then Cilic got the break back for 4-4 in the set however more errors follow from the Croatian as he was broken for 5-4 before losing the set and the match 6-3 1-6 4-6!

Overall Kei was solid in the final two sets when it mattered whereas Marin’s level throughout the match was high and then low and according to the stats only hit 11 unforced errors, it was more like 40!

Why have only 5 of the 31 matches on the Stadium Court in Washington been women’s matches?

It’s not the only tennis tournament in the world that seems to favour men’s matches instead of women’s matches on the main courts however in Washington at the Citi Open they are taking the micky with the court share between WTA and ATP matches.

I understand the men’s draw is bigger with 48 players in the main draw of the singles compared to the 32 on the women’s draw however on the doubles they both have 16 but more men’s doubles matches have been on the top courts and no women’s matches have been, why is that?

I’ve done a bit of adding up from the first day of the Citi Open to the 7th of August (note the first two days were qualifying matches)…

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Statistically only 5 of the 31 matches on the main court at the Citi Open have been women’s matches which is pathetic! Players deserve a chance to play on the big courts the women don’t get as much opportunity as the men. The top three courts are televised I believe but the bias to men’s matches on the tour is incredible!

Not only the main Stadium Court but Grandstand Court 1 as well where the share over that time period is 23 men’s matches and 10 women’s matches which is a little bit better but why not make it more equal?

Even on the opening two days of the tournament which were qualifying the court share was 6/1 and 7/2 in favour of the men’s draw again. I don’t believe this is due to a bigger draw as we have seen later in the tournaments more of the same problem as yesterday the four men’s matches were on the main court where as the four women’s matches were thrown on Grandstand 1 & 2.

Citi Open isn’t the only tournament. I like the tournament but we see the same week in week out but nothing like the ratio for the main court in Washington. Wozniacki criticised Wimbledon for this and I noticed in Miami earlier on in the year a major difference, here’s a link to that piece…

Caroline Wozniacki is right! Women don’t get enough chances to play on the big courts at Wimbledon and they should!

Citi Open Preview – Marin Cilic v Kei Nishikori

For the ninth time in their careers Kei Nishikori and Marin Cilic will do battle on the ATP tour with Kei Nishikori leading the head to head 5-3 however it is Marin Cilic who won the important won defeating Kei in the US Open final 6-3 6-3 6-3 last year and this is their first meeting since the final in New York.

Getting to semi-finals is what you would expect from the two however I wouldn’t say they have performed to a level this week or recently on the tour where I would say they can challenge for this big titles over the next month or so. In all honesty at the end of last season the talk was about the upcoming talents of Cilic, Nishikori, Raonic and Dimitrov and it hasn’t really happened as none of these players in my opinion have improved over the last 9 months.

I expect it to be a very interesting match. Cilic is obviously a threat via his serve and Nishikori has to find a way to impose himself on the Cilic service game like he did against Sam Groth in the previous round however he won’t get as many cheap points as he did against Groth. Nishikori has played quite a defensive game at times this week but Cilic is powerful from the baseline so maybe a more pro-active game might benefit Kei more.

At the same time Cilic has struggled to break down his opponents winning his last two matches against Querrey and Zvereve 7-6 7-6 7-5 7-6. To win those three tie-break is great but for a player of his quality and wanting to be a consistent top 10 player he should be trying to finish off some matches a bit easier. For example he led Zverev 7-5 3-1 but was taken to a tie-break by the German. If Nishikori can return serve well I do think he is favourite in baseline rallies with his excellent defensive skills but like I said earlier on in the piece Nishikori has to look forward as well otherwise holding serve might be a bit of a training exercise for him.

I can’t really pick a winner in this one. I haven’t been impressed by either player this week but one of them will be in the final. Nishikori has defended well and has benefited from a lot of errors but will he get the same error count from Cilic I doubt it. I want to see both players play their very best, if both can get to that level then I believe Kei will win but he can’t let Cilic get comfortably on serve.

Citi Open Preview – Louisa Chirico v Sloane Stephens

I think I need to apologise to Louisa Chirico after writing her off in my preview of her match against Great Britain’s Heather Watson and she ended up beating Watson comfortably and then defeating the 5th seed Alize Cornet in three sets and standing in her way of a place in the next round is fellow American Sloane Stephens.

This is where the wildcard system works so well on the tour as players who don’t get a chance to qualify for the main draw via their ranking get a chance to showcase with a wildcard and are suddenly the headline maker at a tournament. I still think there is a flaw with the wildcard system as some players pick up an awful lot yearly without really earning it and should be done on results and not just because the tournament is played in your country.

Sloane will be a tough opponent for Louisa however it could depend on what Sloane Stephens turns up. Sometimes I think Sloane beats herself on a tennis court, she plays an explosive game at the back of the court and if it isn’t at 100% then it’s a style which can generate a lot errors and ends up losing matches she should be winning. Sloane is still only 22 but had a lot of success earlier on in her career and this year has been a bit like a comeback year for her and has reappointed her old coach Nick Saviano but results have gone a bit quiet recently with her being unseeded for the tournament.

Before the tournament I’ve got to be honest I never heard of Louisa Chirico before but watching her this week I have been impressed. She was very calm against Watson and controlled rallies on the baseline throughout the match and was even better against Alize Cornet to fight to win in three sets. I do think Sloane is a contender for the title however could we be set for another upset?

Caroline Wozniacki defeated in Washington!

For the first time in her career Caroline Wozniacki has lost to Varvara Lepchenko taking their head to head record to 4/1. The Dane looked set for the next round with her head to head record against the American however a match is never won on paper and Wozniacki has suffered another early loss taking her win/loss for the year to 30/14 which isn’t very good for a top 6 player. Since Rome Wozniacki has a win/loss record of 7/5 and hasn’t got any momentum going this year with her 6-4 6-2 loss to Lepchenko.

Other Results – Stanford

Angelique Kerber defeats Ana Konjuh – 6-4 6-3
Karolina Pliskova defeats Kimiko Date-Krum – 7-5 6-2
Agnieszka Radwanska defeats Misaki Doi – 1-6 6-2 6-0 (was 1-6 2-0 down)

Other Results – Washington

Ricardis Berankis defeats Teymuraz Gabashvili – 7-5 6-4
Jack Sock defeats Richard Gasquet – 6-7 7-6 6-4
Alexander Zverev defeats Alexandr Dolgopolov – 2-6 6-2 6-4
Sam Groth defeats Feliciano Lopez – 6-3 6-4
John Isner defeats Vasek Pospisil – 6-4 7-6
Steve Johnson defeats Grigor Dimitrov – 6-3 1-6 6-3
Marin Cilic defeats Sam Querrey – 7-6 7-6
Kei Nishikori defeats Leonardo Mayer – 6-4 6-4