The Citi Open Tennis tournament ended up Sunday as history-making, when Nick Kyrgios from Australia — for the first time in the tournament’s 53-year history — won both the male singles and male doubles championships in back-to-back tough matches.
And that was after playing both semifinals on Saturday and both finals Sunday, when temperatures during the day reached the upper-90 degrees and the fields around the tennis site were for a while filled with mud after torrential rains. On top of that, the long awaited delayed quarter final match between Kyrgios and local tennis star Frances Tiafoe Friday night lasted until 1 a.m. Even then, the 27-year-old victor had to cut a post-championship press conference short because he had to run to catch a flight to Toronto for his next match.
But Kyrgios didn’t seem tired. In both matches he never lost his pace, running to the back court to talk to his tennis partner American Jack Sock — or racing easily to blast back the hard angles returns of singles opponent Yoshihito Nishioka (whom he beat 6-4, 6-3).
All the games were classic top tennis: full of long deep rallies and breathtaking saves of tight angled returns, multiple overhead smashes that often were saved and continued with line drives and fast volleys. Especially in the doubles, when Kyrgios and partner Jack Sock beat French Open finalists Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicerk in close sets 7-5, 6-4, the serves were often over 120 mph and wildly diverse. The servers’ partners would stand extreme mid service court or often crouch just below the net to pick off fast returns of service with a tap volley. Partners would consult each other at the back court before each serve and sometimes the net player would signal the second serve behind his back to his server.
But the heat and other conditions were felt. “It’s tough conditions out here,” Kyrgios told reporters in his strong Australian accent after the semi finals. “You lose a lot of fluids out here. My serve towards the end kicked up to another gear. I felt like I had fresh legs at the end. Serving 130 in these conditions is pretty helpful. I’m really happy where I’m at.”
Kyrgios’s history-making wins ended three years that the professional went without a title. He won Washington’s Citi Open in 2019 but then went on to have some contentious relationships with umpires, ballboys and the occasional audience member. He was the Wimbledon runner-up this year. But he loves D.C. “It feels like home,” he said.
Kyrgios will take home $342,800 as the singles champion and will split $119,980 with doubles champion partner Socks. Women’s singles champion Liudmila Samsonova won $33,200 after beating her opponent Kaia Kanepi in three tough sets in mid-90 degrees midday.
Tournament chairman Mark Ein welcomed Kyrgios back for next year. “The event has grown every year,” Ein said in a press conference Sunday. “We hope to improve existing infrastructure and to keep the tournament at the Rock Creek site. Especially because the site is accessible to so many in the D.C. area.”
This year, all the final events were sold out.
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