Tennis Up Close: Courtside at the Citi Open (photos)


Stifling heat and humidity turned this year’s Citi Open tennis tournament (July 30 to Aug. 7) in Washington, D.C., into a survival of the fittest for both players and fans alike. On Thursday, surface temperatures at center court peaked at an unofficial 137 degrees Fahrenheit. From courtside, you could clearly see its effect on the players’ faces. Yet it was a week of some highly entertaining tennis and a few notable surprises.

The heat and humidity caught up with No 3 men’s seed and top American player, Taylor Fritz, who retired in the third set against Daniel Evans of Great Britain. Fritz later wrote on social media that he thought he was going to pass out. The Women’s Tennis Association’s extreme-heat protocol went into effect, giving players a 10-minute break after the second set of a three-set match to exit the court for a change of clothes, and a quick cold shower or ice bath. Eventual women’s champion Liudmila  Samsonova of Russia placed an icebag wrapped in a towel on the back of her neck during changeovers.

Fans were treated to some highly competitive matches, none more tense than the battle between Wimbledon runner-up Nick Kyrgios who had to fight off six match points against hometown favorite Frances Tiafoe in a weather-delayed, quarter-final match which went past midnight on Friday. Kyrgios would ultimately win both the men’s singles and doubles Citi Open titles. Unseeded Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan survived the longest match — three hours and 35 minutes — to defeat Evans on Friday before stunning the top seed Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-4 late on Saturday to reach the Citi Open finals where his magic finally ended.

The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) returned to Washington in 2022 for the first time post-pandemic. One of the more entertaining matches was the quarter-final between defending U.S. Open champion 19-year-old Emma Raducanu of Britain and 20-year-old Colombian Camila Osorio. The two women battled just under three hours under a mid-day sun, an amazingly long stretch for a straight-set win. At the other end of the age spectrum, 37-year-old Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, playing without a head covering, made it to the finals before falling to Russian Liudmila Samsonova in three sets on Sunday. 

Tennis can be both challenging and dramatic to photograph, full of fast movement and high emotion. View a slideshow of Jeff Malet’s photos from courtside by clicking on the photo icons below.

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