At the Citi Open, the capital’s summer heat brings the grind


There was one thing more valuable than the best seat in the house at the Citi Open in Washington on Thursday: a piece of shade.

Beyond that, a wide-brimmed hat and water bottle were essential survival gear as temperatures soared above 95 degrees amid an alert from the National Weather Service, with afternoon hums making conditions at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center even worse.

For the players competing on the hard court, which heat up even more, it was enough to trigger the WTA’s hyper-heat protocol, which requires players to be given a 10-minute break after the second set of a three-set match to go out. Court for a change of clothes or a quick shower or both.

The comfortable frontier of CIti Open brings fans and players together

“I was dreaming about the heat base,” Lyudmila Samsonova said during her court interview after sending Agla Tomljanovic, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2, in a race fest that lasted 2 hours and 22 minutes.

Their match started in the middle of the day on the playing field, and the temperature rose steadily. Samsonova placed an ice pack wrapped in a towel on the back of her neck during the change. After the second set claimed a tie, she got the reprieve she had been craving. “It helped a lot,” she said of the 10-minute hiatus. “I took a shower and changed clothes.”

With the heat exhausting everyone’s energy, the tournament grounds were strangely faint. On the black asphalt walkways that circle the stadiums, spectators take turns standing in front of the “Power Breezer,” an industrial-sized fan that shoots a mist of water as the air flows—similar to a car wash without foam or bristles.

With nearly every player left in action on Thursday – including five who were due to compete in singles and doubles – coaches traveling through the men’s and women’s pro circuits to stretch their ankles, rub their muscles, perform initial diagnoses and distribute treatment have been busy.

second classifier Emma Radukano He faced Colombia’s Camila Osorio on the field at 2:30pm, the first set alone taking 79 minutes, littered with blackouts and unintentional errors.

He looks out of the Raducanu box at Dmitriy Tursunov, who is coaching the first-time US Open champion in this tournament on a trial basis. Tursunov spent most of the match pinning his eyes on his charge while covering his head with a towel.

US Open Champion Emma Raducano tries to get her magic back

“I think I died three times in that match,” Radocano said on court after winning 7-6 (7-5) and 7-6 (7-4).

Under the WTA’s overheating policy, the chair umpire does not have a latitude to extend the lead time between submissions, according to WTA supervisor Kerrilyn Cramer. But Raducanu and Osorio got two more timeouts in the second set when they each called the coach to tape blisters that had worsened amid heat and sweat.

Osorio needed to pin her big toe and Raducanu her right hand.

The opportunity to be seated for treatment seemed therapeutic in itself as the match crossed the two-hour and 30-minute mark.

Swede Mikael Ymir expressed his gratitude for playing on clay last week in Umag, Croatia, as he said the weather was hotter and, as a result, helped him acclimatize to the Washington heat.

For top players, doubles are an opportunity to train and have fun

“Conditions are very tough,” Ymir said after advancing to the quarter-finals on Friday with a 6-3, 6-7 (3-7), 6-4 victory over Emile Rossovoori. “I think we play one of the hardest sports on the planet because in addition to dealing with the heat, you also have to make a lot of decisions constantly. I run a lot because my dad was a sprinter. . . . When I run in the heat, I can just focus. [on the] next step [and] grind it But [in tennis]You are grinding, and at the same time, you have this opponent that you have to beat.”

By late afternoon, the skies over Rock Creek Park Tennis Center had darkened, and the first crack of thunder erupted at just 6 p.m. as fourth seed Riley Opelka and 2019 Citi Open champion Nick Kyrgios stepped onto the court.

Play was suspended after 15 minutes due to lightning. Restarting soon after, weather forced the rest of Thursday’s schedule to be postponed.

At that moment, Hyatsville native Frances Tiafoe, 24, was deadlocked in the first set of his match against Boutique 8, seeded Van de Zandschulp.

Tiafoe, who learned to play at the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, is ranked 27 in the world, near his career high of number 25, and is brimming with confidence after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon.

He has won only one ATP title during his seven seasons on his tour (the 2018 Delray Beach Open) and said this week that he would like to win his second title at the Citi Open in Washington, which he began attending at the age of four. In seeing tennis greats like Lleyton Hewitt, Andre Agassi and Juan Martin del Potro, among others.

“Winning this tournament means the world to me,” Tiafoe said after beating fellow American Chris Eubanks on Wednesday. “…to have my name around the stadium [where champions’ names are listed] It would mean a lot to me.”

Tiafoe, a fan favorite with family and lifelong friends in the Washington area, said he and his agent are doing their best to fulfill 56 requests for tickets.

“I had 56 reasons why I wanted to win today,” Tiafoe said. “A lot of people came to see me play and hopefully I can win.”

Earlier on Thursday, third-seeded American Taylor Fritz withdrew from the match against Britain’s Dan Evans, trailing 1-4 in the third set.

Conditions promised to be tougher for those scheduled to play the singles and doubles matches on Thursday. This included Tiafu, Kyrgios, Evans, Van de Zandschulp and, in the women’s event, Xiu Wang of China.

In such cases, it is the policy of the rounds that the player does not start his second game of the day until “after a proper rest”.

According to WTA rules, Kramer explained in an email, a tour official meets with the player after a singles match to determine if she needs medical treatment or a meal before play resumes.

In cases of extreme heat, Kramer said, the tour would be more “generous.” But as a rule, a 90-minute break is allocated between matches.

“The ‘heat’ factor might prompt us to extend it maybe another 15 minutes but no more,” Kramer wrote. “Players also want to balance if they wait too long, they are here until later today and then they need to come back and play the next day. So all these factors are taken into account.”