Tennis Central senior writer Michael Augsberger delivers his notes from our home tournament in DC: What you don't see unless you're there. Read it all at our magazine, The Tennis Curator.
Many matches need to be finished Friday. Rain halted play around 6 pm, and we did not resume until 8 pm. Then it poured again an hour later to wipe out the evening session.
Tiafoe and Van de Zandschulp enter their final set having split the first two. Kyrgios leads 4th seed Opelka after running away with the first-set tiebreak. It was welcome to see old-school quick points and a 45-minute tiebreak set after...
Two 90-minute sets from Raducanu and Osorio went down to the wire. The Brit prevailed in both tiebreaks despite tenacious counterpunching and aggressive forehand power from the crowd's underdog favorite.
Kyrgios could have a very long day. The storm broke the heat last night, but that reprieve did not last. If he converts his set lead into a win this afternoon, he'd play the quarterfinals in primetime and then doubles with Jack Sock afterward.
Nishioka and Ymer capitalized on big chances against beatable opponents to advance deep into an ATP 500 event. The Swede went the distance to earn his first berth into an ATP 500 quarterfinal. The Japanese No. 1 will face Daniel Evans, who outlasted Taylor Fritz.
The top American faltered in the heat, withdrawing due to fatigue after winning the first set but falling behind in the third 4-1.
As it Happened
Emma Raducanu def Camila Osorio, Stadium Court
7-6 (5), 7-6 (4)
Have you ever thought of the meaning behind “blistering heat”? Emma Raducanu explained post-match that her “skin was ripping off” as she played just two sets in 2 hours, 49 minutes.
In the stifling humidity on the open Stadium court, Raducanu v Osorio did not become remotely interesting until 4-0 in the first set, when Osorio found a foothold and eventually earned a second four break opportunities at 4-2. Osorio dropped the first three but started ripping forehands even on the return. After smart shotmaking from both, Raducanu went long and then netted a rally ball, and we had a match at 4-3, on serve.
Raducanu received more polite applause than Osorio as the well-known darling from last year’s run from qualifying to the final of the US Open, but the Colombian drew more partisan support from a Hispanic-tilted crowd.
On the first point at 4-4, Osorio hit one of the best drop shots ever seen, landing on the sideline about a foot from the net, and spinning backward. Emma was incredulous, and it took extra time for her and the ball kids to start the next point.
Osorio did not grunt once until deuce, serving for the first set. But she double-faulted on set point to lose her chance.
Raducanu showed steel after her serve failed her at 3-5 in the first-set tiebreak. A consecutive double fault would have meant 3-6, but she calmed herself to roar back and win 7-5, including a gorgeous backhand passing shot to start her momentum.
The match went predictably again until 4-3 on Raducanu’s serve, with Osorio earning a break point. Emma dialed in a fine, 94 MPH second serve down the middle that surprised her opponent. After the Brit bailed out of a tough rally with a netted drop shot, she missed a forehand long, and much like in the first set we were level again. 2 hours and 18 minutes into the match, I must say—but clouds had finally come to break up the heat.
The thunder rolled as we played the second set tiebreaker, 2 hours and 47 minutes on the clock. Just two sets. The storms were supposed to come around 4 pm, but they have seemed to miss us to the north. I wondered whether the turning point of this tiebreaker came with Osorio’s swinging volley that left her out of position.
The stadium started empty in the heat, but as clouds and the end of the business day arrived, so did an almost full stadium that roared for Osorio’s courage.
As much of a purist as I am, tennis ought to look at what it can do—can we seriously have had a four-and-a-half-hour three-setter in this heat? We were a few points away from the prospect.
Around the Grounds
Is that an old Yugoslavia flag, or an upside-down Netherlands flag? I would not be pleased if I were Van de Zandschulp—or else I’d be looking for the emergency nearby.
I do wonder if “they” listen in, since I’ve seen some improvements made overnight sometimes. The Citi Open has that sort of small-town feel and yet can be electric in the night with a full house and very big-time with the brass that show up. Last year we pointed out how large portraits of players and landscapes of DC landmarks adorn the stadium facade, and how well that highlights the history of this beloved event. So they’ve added to it with more on the facade, but even better, huge banners covering the fences along the grounds’ north entry. Black and white images of past champions—brilliant.
Never trust anyone who would volunteer for Slytherin if they went to Hogwarts. Emma Raducanu and one commentator on the radio both picked it as their Harry Potter house.
Coming Up on Friday
Kyrgios v Opelka, to finish on Stadium approx. 2 pm. It's 7-6 2-1.
Tiafoe v van de Zandschulp, to finish on John Harris approx. 2 pm. The third set is starting.
Raducanu v Samsonova, on Grandstand at 5 pm.
Azareknka v Martincova, on Grandstand at 12 pm.
Dimitrov v Korda, to finish on Grandstand, approx 2 pm.
The men's quarterfinals, all dependent on outcomes in the afternoon session, will be played in primetime.
What to do when you’re here
By far and away, the best addition to the fan experience here is Citi’s Serve tent, where you can hit three serves and see how your MPH matches up with the pros. If you break 100 MPH for men, or other target marks depending on your age, the bank will donate in your name to charity. And free commentary radios next door? Unbeatable.
Gone are the artwork displays, sadly. Across the sidewalk, though, is a Kim Crawford wine station to drown your sorrows about missing Nadal.
I heard cheers from the crowd for water breaks—people literally cheering for the water. It’s that humid. I went for a run this morning and could not dry off for an hour and a half. How do these players, like three-set survivor Ludmilla Samsonova who finished around 2 pm, take showers in the ten minutes they have for a cooling break?
So, fill up your water bottle at the fountains overlooking the practice courts, or stand in the mist blowers there or on the opposite side of the stadium ring-walk. There’s also the air-conditioned Market Square, from which you can see the practice courts. It’s not record-hot for DC, but the heat has been relentless all week.
Speaking of cool—the fastest ice cream to run out, according to the girls manning the battle station, is Jubilee’s Cookies & Cookie Dough. It has cookie dough and a brownie-like chocolate instead of chips. No wonder a fan favorite. Also get vanilla, chocolate with chips, or a Gin & Tonic Sorbet. Can Dulcazzo keep up?
Talk with one of the ball kids or volunteers, like Tennis Central’s own Ivy McConarty, whom I ran into taking a lunch break. The kids get an alternating hot or boxed lunch and dinner with catering in the big trailer (today it was meat loaf), while the press get a free meal each day from the Biergarten or Market Square.
Take care to see whether the parking lot is open before you arrive. The Park Service allows the use of the grass as the main parking lot, but as we see this morning, after a storm they often close it because the cars would damage the park too much.
Summer Reading List
The ever-in-form Liz Clarke compares Emma Raducanu’s magical US Open with Pam Shriver’s “overnight sensation” finals trip against Chrissie Evert. The Washington Post always throws immense resources at the hometown tourney.