The hard court summer leading into the US Open continues to heat up this week, with several ATP stars heading to the Citi Open in Washington as they look for a strong build up to the final Grand Slam of the year.
Gael Monfils, the winner last year, returns to defend the title, though faces stiff competition. The top two seeds for the tournament are Dominic Thiem and Kei Nishikori, with Alexander Zverev, former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and 2014 Citi Open champion Milos Raonic all in the field. There is also a notable American presence, with the likes of Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, and Steve Johnson all in the field.
All the seeded players in the draw receive a bye into the second round.
Projected Q/F: (1st) Dominic Thiem vs (6th) Gael Monfils
This is an interesting section of the draw, with defending champion Monfils not having a great season, and with Thiem having a generally good year but not being absolutely comfortable on hard courts. This is a dangerous section for both men, with the likes of Vasek Pospisil, 15th seed Kevin Anderson, and 12th seed Mischa Zverev present.
It is Thiem who has the slightly tough draw of the two top seeds here, with the Austrian potentially facing Pospisil in his first match and then Anderson in the third round; he should be able to beat both, though it would not be a surprise if he was defeated. Monfils, however, has a more comfortable opener against either Yuki Bhambri or Stefan Kozlov, though could face danger against Zverev in the third round.
Prediction: Monfils def Thiem
Projected Q/F: (3rd) Milos Raonic vs (8th) Jack Sock
Raonic is undoubtedly a contender for the title, having won the title in 2014, though has had a rather drab 2017 so far and could be at the risk of an upset. A potential second round clash against (most likely) Nicolas Mahut should be a test that the Canadian can past, though a potential third round clash against Atlanta runner-up Ryan Harrison, and a then a potential quarterfinal clash against the likes of Sock could prove tough.
Sock has had fairly good season to date, though will be looking to improve on a last eight run in Atlanta. A second round clash against Marius Copil or qualifier Sekou Bangoura should not be too much of a threat, and he should also be able to beat the likes of Jared Donaldson or Dudi Sela, who are potential third round opponents; there could be an interesting all-American clash between him and Harrison in the last eight.
Prediction: Sock def Harrison
Projected Q/F: (5th) Alexander Zverev vs (4th) Grigor Dimitrov
This is perhaps the most competitive section in the draw, with Zverev, Dimitrov, tenth seed Nick Kyrgios and 14th seed Steve Johnson all present. Zverev, one of the biggest stories of the year, could meet fellow young gun Kyrgios in the third round, with the German likely to beat either Jordan Thompson or Ruben Bemelmans and Kyrgios likely to beat Go Soeda or Tennys Sandgren; Kyrgios has beat Zverev twice this year, though has struggled with injury recently, and Zverev is in the better form of the two.
Dimitrov has had a fairly solid season to date and took a wildcard into the tournament, though faces a potentially tough opener against Kyle Edmund; the Brit reached the last four in Atlanta, and should beat Hyeon Chung in his opener. The winner of that clash could well face Johnson in the third round, though he has a tough start against either Daniil Medvedev or Reilly Opelka.
Prediction: Zverev def Johnson
Projected Q/F: (7th) Lucas Pouille vs (2nd) Kei Nishikori
Neither Pouille or Nishikori have had stellar seasons to date, meaning there might be a slight opportunity for a few men in this section. An opening match against either Tommy Paul or Casper Ruud should not be too tricky for Pouille, though he could well face 11th seed Gilles Muller in the third round. Muller has been in the form of his life, and should beat either Dmitry Tursunov or Mitchell Krueger in the second round to reach the third round.
Meanwhile, Nishikori could face an extremely difficult first match against Donald Young, who has been in encouraging form of late. Though the Japanese may prove too strong in that encounter, other big factor here could be 13th seed Juan Martin del Potro. The Argentine could face Nishikori in the third round, though he himself has struggled this season.
Prediction: Muller def Nishikori
Monfils def Sock
Zverev def Muller
Zverev def Monfils