Next Generation on Display at Citi Open (photos)

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Alexander ("Sascha") Zverev returns a volley to Alex de Minaur in the men's finals. Photo by Jeff Malet.

The next generation of tennis was on full display at the 50th Citi Open Tennis Tournament, which concluded late on Sunday, Aug. 5, at the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center in Washington, D.C., as Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia defeated Donna Vekic of Croatia in a grueling match, 4-6, 7-6 (9-7), 6-2. It was her second win at the Open in two tries. (She last won in 2014.) Kuznetsova, who is working herself back from wrist surgery, celebrated her first win in nearly two years, and her 18th overall. She had to overcome four match points in the second set from the much younger Croatian, who tired at the end.

Earlier in the day, Alexander (“Sascha”) Zverev of Germany, the world’s third-ranked player and the tournament’s number-one seed, had a much easier time, defeating 19-year-old Australian Alex de Minaur in straight sets, 6-2, 6-4. It was Zverev’s second straight Citi Open Title and his ninth overall. Zverev was presented with the newly designed “Donald Dell Trophy,” based on John Safer’s “Serve” sculpture and named after the tournament’s co-founder. On presenting the trophy, Dell proclaimed Zverev to be “the future of tennis in the world.” At No. 3, there are only two more players yet to pass, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

At 21, Zverev was the oldest of the top male finishers, which included de Minaur and semifinalists Andrey Rublev (Russia), 20, and Stefanos Tsitsipas (Greece), who was just a week shy of his 20th birthday. Women’s runner-up Vekic is 22. Another rising star, 20-year-old Hyattsville, Maryland, native Francis Tiafoe, who reached the quarterfinals, made his main draw debut at the Citi Open back in 2014. Junior star Natasha Subhash of Fairfax, Virginia, who lost her qualifying match, checked in as perhaps the first player in the tournament to be born in this century (2001).

Rain put a damper on play for most of the week, delaying many matches and making it uncomfortable for players and fans alike. In one of the more memorable matches, Andy Murray (U.K.) defeated Marius Copil (Romania) in a quarter-final match that finished at 3:02 a.m. local time on Friday morning. It was the fourth-latest tennis tournament finish in history. Murray, who is coming back from a hip injury, would quit the tournament citing fatigue. The rain proved so persistent that most of Friday’s evening program was postponed, allowing fans to exchange their tickets for a future day. Fortunately, the final two days of the tournament were rain-free.

The men’s final between Zverev and de Minaur was the youngest pairing at an ATP finals since the 2007 BNP Paribas Open (Nadal vs. Djokovic). “It’s quite funny, because this final could be the final of the next 15 years, so I hope you guys all enjoyed it,” Zverev told the crowd.

View Jeff Malet’s photos from the Citi Open’s final weekend by clicking on the photo icons below.

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