Jannik Sinner Youngest to Win an ATP 500 Event in Memorable Citi Open (photos)


Jannik Sinner of Italy became the first teenager to win an ATP 500 event, defeating American Mackenzie “Mackie” McDonald in a three-hour thriller, 7-5, 4-6, 7-5 to take the Citi Open title Sunday, Aug. 8. Sinner, who will turn 20 in just eight days, became the first teenager to win an ATP 500-level event in its 13 year history and became the third youngest to win in Washington D.C.

It was also a breakthrough tournament for McDonald, 26, who was appearing in his first ATP finals. Showing grit and determination, McDonald fought off 10 set points in the first set, and 16 of 21 break points in the match. The former UCLA student and 2016 NCAA singles and doubles champion seemed sufficiently recovered following major surgery and lengthy rehabilitation due to a torn hamstring tendon. McDonald would have been the first American to win a Citi Open men’s final since Andy Roddick 14 years ago. Sinner, a fifth seed, lost just one set in five matches and earned $350,755 for his week’s work.

Also on Sunday, Raven Klaasen (RSA) and Ben McLachlan (JPN) defeated Neal Skupski (GBR) and Michael Venus (NZL) 7-6(4), 6-4 in doubles to win their first ATP Tour title of the season.

In late action on Saturday, Jessica Pegula bested Coco Gauff in the the inaugural Citi Open Women’s Invitational in a match that had to be decided by a 10-point match tie-breaker. The Americans Pegula and Gauff had each previously won their first-ever crowns at the last Citi Open in 2019 in women’s singles and doubles respectively — Gauff as a 15 year-old. Both were to participate in this year’s Tokyo Olympics, but Gauff was denied her chance after testing positive for the Covid-19 virus.

The 52 year-old tournament returned to the Rock Creek Park Tennis Center after a two-year hiatus. Last year’s event was cancelled just 23 days before its scheduled start due to pandemic safety concerns and travel restrictions. This year’s edition was given a major boost with the addition to the main draw of Rafael Nadal, but the 20-time Grand Slam tournament champion, who was recovering from a foot injury, was defeated in the second of two highly entertaining matches in front of over-the-top enthusiastic crowds. Each day of the tournament was sold out, and the weather gods cooperated with minimal rain and below average temperatures. A portion of the proceeds from the Citi Open benefit the Washington Tennis & Education Foundation (WTEF) for D.C. area youth.

View Jeff Malet’s photos from the final days of this year’s Citi Open by clicking on the photo icons below.

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