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Thiem, Nishikori, and Del Potro headline stellar field at Citi Open in Washington, D.C.


The U.S. summer hard-court swing will be heating up at the Citi Open starting on Monday.


Although the 2016 field was somewhat depleted because of the Olympics, which also impacted other ATP events, this one is just about as good as it gets for a 500-point tournament. Four top-10 players and nine of the top 20 are in the main draw, and that does not even include Nick Kyrgios and Juan Martin Del Potro. Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori are the respective No. 1 and No. 2 seeds followed by Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov, Alexander Zverev, and defending champion Gael Monfils.


Thiem is in the midst of a stellar stretch that includes runner-up finishes in Barcelona and Madrid, semifinal performances in Rome and at Roland Garros, and a fourth-round showing at Wimbledon. The world No. 7 has enjoyed a ton of success on clay but the jury is still out on his abilities on other surfaces, so the beginning of his American hard-court swing at the Citi Open will provide plenty of intrigue. Thiem’s draw is not a bad one, as Monfils–a potential quarterfinal foe–is no longer in the form that carried him to the Washington, D.C. title last July and ultimately to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.


The top half of the Washington draw is also home Raonic, Jack Sock, and John Isner. Sock and Isner are on a collision course for the third round, with the winner to possibly face Raonic in the quarterfinals. Isner secured the Newport title last week and currently finds himself in the Atlanta title match.


Japan’s Kei Nishikori in action against Australia’s Sam Groth during their quarter final match at the Citi Open tennis tournament in Washington, DC, USA, 07 August 2015. EPA/SHAWN THEW

A lot of eyes will be on Nishikori and Del Potro in the bottom half of the bracket, as both players are coming off relatively underwhelming showings on clay and grass. They each missed out on an opportunity against Andy Murray at Roland Garros; Del Potro in the last 32 and Nishikori in the quarters. Del Potro then suffered an upset loss to Ernests Gulbis in the Wimbledon second round and Nishikori lost in the third round to Roberto Bautista Agut. The top players for Argentina and Japan, respectively, should be able to cruise through their openers this week prior to a head-to-head battle in the last 16.


Kyrgios also has some work to do as he looks to get a stuck-in-neutral 2017 campaign back in gear. The Australian started the year 18-4 but is a mere 1-5 in his last six matches dating back to the Madrid third round. He has retired twice due to hip problems–including in his Wimbledon first-rounder against Pierre-Hugues Herbert.


A possible third-round contest could see Kyrgios against Zverev, who are good friends and occasional doubles partners. Zverev advanced to the semifinals of D.C. last summer before succumbing to Monfils.


“And you want to get who people are talking about,” tournament director Keely O’Brien told the Washington Post. “That’s Zverev; everyone wants him to be the next best thing. He beat (Novak) Djokovic in a Masters 1000 this year. And he’s young; and you want to get these players when they’re up and coming. You want them to come to Washington. They’re creatures of habit, so if they come here and do well, they’ll come back.”


“I just enjoyed Washington the past two years,” Zverev added. “It was a tournament I wanted to play. I got to the quarterfinals (and then) semifinals.”


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.


Milos Raonic of Canada returns a shot to Steve Johnson of the United States during their singles match at the Citi Open ATP tennis tournament in Washington, DC, USA, 01 August 2014. EPA/PETE MAROVICH