Citi Open – ATP Washington D.C. (Monday 30th July – Sunday 5th August)

Whilst many of the world’s eyes will be on the Olympic Games in London, the bread and butter of the ATP tour continues with a 500-point event in Washington. Perhaps I’m doing the tournament a disservice by describing it as such because had the Olympics not been taking place, I would have anticipated a much stronger field. Evidence of this can be found when looking through the past champions with names like Juan Martin Del Potro, Andy Roddick, and Lleyton Hewitt figuring. Nevertheless, the 2012 event has attracted two top twenty players and seven top fifty players which is without question a marked improvement on recent weeks.

Of the eight seeded players, only four have competed at the event before with none of these having advanced past the last four. Alexandr Dolgopolov, Pablo Andujar, Jeremy Chardy, and Benoit Paire are having their first taste of the Washington competition but I can’t help but feel the majority of the participants would rather be competing in London. To be fair, there may be a number of players who see this as an opportunity to rack up some ranking points while the top players are off vying for an Olympic medal.

I have to say that I find it a little odd that there is a tournament taking place anyway this week with the Olympics taking precedent. It’s hard to gauge the extent of media coverage the event will get as one assumes most (if not all) will be hard at work in SW19. Either way, 500 ranking points and $252,600 are up for grabs for the eventual winner. Despite there being a significant improvement in terms of the calibre of player on tour this week, as with previous weeks, I still think there are question marks hanging over the heads of quite a few of the seeded players. Top seeded American Mardy Fish continues to battle away with both illness and injury problems and some of the stories I’ve heard about Fish make the sheer fact he competes on a tennis court today nothing short of miraculous. I for one wouldn’t begrudge Fish a win this week but he’s looked beatable from what I’ve seen of him over the last month or two. He struggled through three matches at Wimbledon before bowing out to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in round 4, before retiring hurt whilst leading Gilles Muller by a set and 3-2. I’d suspect he’s probably over the injury that forced him retire in Atlanta but given the circumstances outlined above, I’m prepared to take him on this week.

Looking at the other seeded players in the tournament, Dolgopolov has never played here before and is probably looking to get in a bit of match practice before the major tournaments on the American hard court swing begin. Elsewhere Pablo Andujar, Jeremy Chardy, and Benoit Paire aren’t really known for their hard court exploits which only really leaves the player I intended to put up as a selection as soon as I saw the draw. Tommy Haas has made some comeback from injury this year. Ranked as low as 896 at the beginning of June 2011, Haas has progressed to a level that you would have forgiven him for thinking he probably wouldn’t reach again in his career. Currently ranked at 35 in the world, Haas finds himself at his highest ranking since June 2010 after winning the grass court event in Halle (beating Wimbledon champion Federer in the process) and reaching the final in his hometown event of Hamburg. The German also has very few points to defend between now and the US Open so any ranking points he collects between then and now would be a bonus. He’ll be keen to amass as many points as possible to ensure he is seeded for the Grand Slam in Flushing Meadows at the end of next month. An appearance in the last four in Washington would propel Haas back into the top thirty in rankings, whilst a tournament win may even see Haas back in the world’s top twenty. Suffice to say, Haas is playing some decent stuff at the moment and has every chance of bettering his semi final appearance here back in 2008.

Selection – Tommy Haas

Follow Chris on Twitter @cdquinn86

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