The next big stretch of the tennis calendar is upon us. Monday marks the beginning of the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic in San Jose California and the Citi Open in Washington DC. These two events are the first significant stops of the North American hardcourt summer. Everything leads up to the U.S. Open which begins August 27 in New York. Here is a look at both of this week’s big events.
This ladies only event moves from the campus of Stanford University to San Jose State starting this year. This is about as loaded of a player field as you will ever see for a draw as small as 28 players.
Serena Williams, Madison Keys, Venus Williams, Victoria Azarenka and Garbiñe Muguruza are the headliners. Most of those names can headline an event all on their own. That group has 34 combined major singles titles.
A small but good player field always creates some good early round matches. Serena Williams rode her Wimbledon final appearances to the 6th seed in San Jose. The American’s ranking is back in the top 30, but still affected by her pregnancy hiatus.
She gets a tough opener against Johanna Konta Tuesday night. The Brit has really struggled for the last 12 months. Still, she is a two-time major semifinalist as well as a former champion at this event. It will be interesting to see how Serena has recovered from Wimbledon. If the answer is not well, Konta will expose it.
Venus Williams and Azarenka are looking to jump-start their disappointing seasons. The older Williams sister has just 12 match wins on the year, but is seeded third and looks to have a decent draw. If the 38-year-old is going to salvage anything from 2018, it has to start this week. Azarenka needs a similar kick start. She has two significant U.S. Open tune-ups wins in her career, including this event in 2010. In fact, 19 of her 20 career titles have come on hardcourts. If there is any of the form that made Azarenka World No. 1 left in the 110th ranked Belarusian, it will come out in the next month. Should she win her opener on Monday night, she will take on top-seeded Muguruza.
America’s capital plays host to the first combined event on the road to the U.S. Open. While not nearly as big as the upcoming events in Canada and Cincinnati, it also has a very good player field this year.
Andy Murray will play his third event in his comeback from hip surgery. The three-time Grand Slam champ withdrew from Wimbledon after two disappointing tune-up events on home soil.
With Roger Federer resting until at least Cincinnati and Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal each playing a bit more than they probably expected at Wimbledon, there is room for Murray to make noise this summer, but it is impossible to know if he is capable of that right now. Murray is unseeded and will start out against American Mackenzie McDonald.
Alexander Zverev is the top seed and defending champion. The young German will be looking to rebound quickly from a disappointing Wimbledon. Interestingly, his older brother could await him in the third round. He is joined in DC by John Isner, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and several other notable names. Reigning major champions Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephens lead the Washington women’s field.
It is quite rare to have so many big names playing on this particular week of the calender, but it is a great thing for fans. Even with names like Sharapova, Nadal, Federer, Kerber and Djokovic waiting until Canada and/or Cincinnati to play again, there is no shortage of intrigue this week.