John Isner, shown here at the Sony Open in March, is an expected favorite at the Citi Open.
The dog days of summer in Washington typically usher in a break from spring’s bustling tourist season. But come July, the action will return to town when Rock Creek Park swarms with more than 70,000 tennis fans—all of them eager to see the sport’s superstars fight for the Citi Open tournament title. Part of the Association of Tennis Professionals World Tour 500 series, the Citi Open draws top men’s singles players to the area every summer for a week of exciting hardcourt play. Prize money totals more than $1.8 million, and the winner receives 500 points (hence the tournament category), which count toward his season total; the players with the most points at the end of the season compete in November’s ATP World Tour Finals in London.
At press time, the full field of players had not been announced for the tournament, which begins on July 27, but superstars such as Jo-WilfriedTsonga, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Mardy Fish, and Bernard Tomic are expected to compete.
“It will be a thrilling experience,” offers Jeff Newman, tournament director and senior vice president of events at Lagardère Unlimited, which produces the Citi Open. “When you see the athleticism and the emotion of toptier tennis, there’s nothing like it.”
It will also be a momentous occasion, since the tournament is celebrating its 45th year in 2013. The event was founded in 1969 by former Davis Cup captain and champion Donald Dell who, at the request of tennis legend Arthur Ashe, decided the tournament should take place in the city of Washington in a location accessible to all—National Park Service land. Some 20 years later, to house the tournament and accommodate its growth, the 7,500-seat William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center was built upon the same grounds. It remains open to recreational and nonprofit programs, as well as professionals, to this day. The Citi Open itself is owned by and benefits the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation, which provides tennis instruction and academic support to underprivileged children in the District.
A total of 138 matches will be played during the weeklong tournament, and some days could see up to 24 matches spread among Stadium Court and the outside courts. Last year, organizers added new lighting and additional courts to the stadium, providing more seats for action-hungry spectators. And the outside courts promise to be particularly exciting, Newman says, because the temporary bleachers allow spectators to be closer to the competition and really feel the players’ energy. In addition to ATP matches, these outside courts also feature the Women’s Tennis Association International Level Tournament, which takes place at the same time as the Citi Open.
Beyond the action on the courts, spectators will find other diversions, including a wine tasting, an alumni tailgating event, an Iron Chef–style cooking challenge (last year’s event featured celebrity chefs Bryan Voltaggio and Victor Albisu), a military appreciation day, and family events. Tickets start as low as $10 for a single-session reserved seat to $575 for a premium box seat for the week. The tournament takes place July 27 through August 4 at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park, 16th and Kennedy Streets NW, 202-721-9500