50 years of Citi Open Tennis / Best memories

Open Era of Tennis in Washington DC (1968 - 2018)

This year marks a very special milestone for Open Era Tennis.

I've known the author of this article, Nik, as one of the biggest tennis fans and a "legend of DC/VA Tennis". He was the one that introduced me to the Legg Mason Classic over a decade ago and shared amazing tips (best viewing seats and where to park) plus some of the most unexpected stories of the game and its players.


Written by Nik Subramanian

The 2018 Citi Open Tennis tournament in Washington DC starts on July 28. This will be the 50th edition, and the Players Lounge kicks off the event with food, drinks, and music on Fri July 27 at 7.30pm
The latest finish JC and I witnessed was a 2:45AM finish with Dmitry Tursunov in ‘06
after which he gladly obliged fans (including us) with a chit chat and pictures. 

2018 Citi Open - Preview Highlights

Top ATP players at this year’s event include former number one Andy Murray, 3-time slam winner Stan Wawrinka, US Open, Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson and Wimbledon semi-finalist John Isner. Top WTA players including world number two Caroline Wozniacki and Sloane Stephenson (ranked # 3) will headline the women's draw.

Look out for next-generation stars like Nick Kyrgios, Denis Shapovalov, Hyeon Chung, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrey Rublev, Naomi Osaka and local lad Frances Tiafoe.

Shapovalov, Chung, Tsitsipas, and Rublev have a “future top 10” ranking written all over them. While one should expect Kyrgios might disappoint, depending on which way the wind is blowing when he’s scheduled to play, he has an entertaining and explosive game, and if he’s drawn to face someone that he perceives as a challenge, it will be an entertaining match.

Looking Back 15 Years at Rock Creek Tennis in DC

Brad Gilbert coached Andy Murray in 2006 at Legg Mason, photo by JC
Featured on Brad Gilbert's Wikipedia Page
I’ve attended the Citi Open every year since 2004, for the last 15 years. The first year was devoid of “stars” due to the conflicting Athens Olympics but was memorable nevertheless, as watching any tennis pro in the top 500 is a great learning experience. Still that year, we had Mark Philippoussis, Jonas Bjorkman, Alex Corretja and a bunch of players only seen on television up until that point.

One of the highlights of the 2005 tournament for me was seeing an idol, Andre Agassi, up-close. The intensity of Andre’s practice session combined with the pace and accuracy of his groundstrokes was awe-inspiring.

Watching Agassi practice with Andy Murray in 2006 was another great highlight. Murray’s ability to absorb and redirect all the pace from Andre’s groundstrokes was a precursor of Murray’s success to come.

 Nik and Safin in 2006, profile pic on Wikipedia
Nik and Safin, 2006 Edition, Photo by JC
Cropped photo now lives on the official Marat Safin Wikipedia page



Over the years, we’ve had the opportunity to see many young players up close before they’ve made the headlines - Sam Querrey, Grigor Dimitrov, Tomas Berdych, John Isner and others.

For John Isner, this was his breakout tournament in 2007. Isner was a known face to some, from the NCAA collegiate finals the two previous years on television (where Isner beat Kevin Anderson and DevVarman in consecutive years). A late withdrawal freed up a wildcard spot, which led to Isner going from world number 480-something to 144, within one week.

The energy in stadium court was spectacular, with Isner winning 3rd set tie breakers on five consecutive days(!) including wins over Tommy Haas and Gael Monfils, before falling to Andy Roddick in the final.

Meeting your tennis heroes and watching Epic Endings

The best part about the Citi Open has always been the late night matches - sometimes caused by rain delays or often by close matches that push the schedule behind. There’s a different vibe with watching top 50 players on an outside court, a few feet away from the players, a few hundred people watching.
Tim Henman ("Gentleman Tim") - meeting one of my first Pros in real life
Cropped headshot photo of Tim now appears on his Wikipedia Page

The audience is hardcore and completely tuned into the match (why else would they be here at midnight), and the professionalism from the players - this is the “real pro tour” away from the big stadium Grand Slam matches, where dreams and hopes make or break. All the caveats and subtleties of competing and finding solutions on the court are there to be observed - return positions, interactions with the player box, umpires, mental “resetting”, you often see and study the pro players favorite patterns and strengths.

Witnessing the Sound of a Professional Tennis Ball being Hit

Apart from Agassi and Safin, the only other player match that level of timing and precision was David Nalbandian (who won the title in 2010) - who hit with a single ball for 30 minutes with Marcos Baghdatis, every ball hitting the absolute middle of his racquet - it was unreal.

Watching Nalbandian (2010 Champ) - JC in the front row
There are so many great memories from the Citi Open as we approach its 50th year, and an opportunity to add many more great moments.

What are some of your best memories from the Citi Open and US Open series tennis?

Promo Codes and Discount Tennis Tickets

Citi Open and US Open Tickets can be found for below retail prices with special discount codes including 2-for-1 specials and Group offers at tennisbargains.com. Use our special promo codes to get discounted tickets