The 2022 North American hard court season continues with the Washington Open, and the draw features numerous interesting match-ups.
The qualifying matches begin today, while the main draw starts from Monday.
It is the first WTA event of the summer in the US, and follows the ATP-only Hall of Fame Open and Atlanta Open.
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Venus Williams will be taking part in the event for the first time in her career. "I am excited to be playing the Citi Open for the first time this summer. I love Washington, DC, and returning to the nation’s capital to play in front of a community that has supported me so strongly feels like a homecoming. I am looking forward to being back on the courts and competing in DC soon.”
However, Venus is not among the top seeds. Instead Jessica Pegula, Emma Raducanu, Simona Halep, and Victoria Azarenka lead the field.
Williams is one of five WTA Grand Slam champions in the field, alongside Raducanu, Halep, Azarenka, Sloane Stephens and Sofia Kenin.
No. 2 seed Raducanu faces a tough run to the final, with Marie Bouzkova her opening oppponent and Kenin and Elise Mertens also on her side of the draw. Williams is also a potential opponent, if she goes on a run in Washington.
Bouzkova though is in action in Prague and would have to withdraw from Washington if she advances to the final there.
Britain's Heather Watson will attempt to play her way into the tournament through qualifying, and faces Australia's Astra Sharma today.
Pegula is actually the reigning champion, having won the last edition of the event in 2019. Both subsequent Washington Opens were cancelled due to Covid.
Gauff warmed up with exhibition matches against Taylor Townsend and Kenin, both of which she won in straight sets. "I’m excited that I get to play here,” Gauff said, "I’m glad and I hope that this preparation [for the U.S. Open] will go well.”
On the ATP side, Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios, former world no. 1 Andy Murray, world no. 8 Andrey Rublev, world no. 11 Hubert Hurkacz, Taylor Fritz, Denis Shapovalov, Maxime Cressy, Frances Tiafoe and Tommy Paul feature in a star-studded draw.
Kyrgios, who won this event in 2019, dropped out of the singles at the Atlanta Open, citing extreme fatigue, but has advanced to the semifinals of the doubles, alongside partner and fellow Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis.
Last year's champion Jannik Sinner will not defend his title, instead opting to play in the Croatian Open where he is on course to meet Carlos Alcaraz in the final.
Andy Murray begins his campaign against Swedish No. 1 Mikael Ymer.
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The Washington Open is the second oldest professional tennis tournament in the United States, behind only the US Open. It was started in July 1969 at the suggestion of Arthur Ashe, who believed that Washington's non-segregated neighbourhoods should have a tournament.
It was an ATP-only tournament until 2012 when the WTA joined.
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