Tuesday, November 14, 2023

Citi Open 2023 | Murray, Tiafoe and glimpse of Gauff

[Composed 8/1/2023]

The promise of the Citi Open, now technically the Mubadala Citi DC Open, is the chance to see world class tennis on a relatively tiny stage. While we were only able to squeeze in a day of the tournament this year, it more than lived up to its promise. This year we also brought along B and P, who both appreciate sports even if they aren't huge tennis fans (yet).

We Ubered to the stadium in the afternoon and had no traffic or long lines to contend with. The weather was beyond perfect, unlike previous years which were oppressively hot.

We started watching tennis in the main stadium, watching the fifth seed Grigor Dimitrov take on Mackenzie McDonald. We caught the first set tie break, where the two battled it out. And then started the second set, which Grigor pulled away in. While we watched the second set, Shira snuck off to one of the side courts to secure us a spot watching former number one Andy Murray.

Eventually, P, B and I joined Shira on the side court and watched Murray and Dan Evans take on Maximo Gonzalez and Andres Molteni. We tried to explain to P and B that they were mere paces away from a tennis great. It really is tons of fun watching doubles tennis in such an intimate setting. Ultimately, Gonzelez and Molteni won the day; but it was a treat getting to watch Murray emote all over the court during play. And Shira enjoyed pointing out that Andy's mom was in the stands just a few rows behind us.

After the doubles match we got lunch and hovered around the practice courts. We got lucky and managed to catch Coco Gauff warming up. This was one of the first time's we got to see that Brad Gilbert had joined her coaching team, and it was fun seeing BG on the court, not just in the commentating box.

From there, we made it to the night match, where we saw Francis Tiafoe take on Aslan Karatsev. Frances is essentially our local tennis star, so we're always eager to cheer him on whenever we see him. I'm sure winning his home tournament is top on his list of goals, and watching him play tonight it looked like that may very well happen. Frances entertanied, as always does, with his larger than life personality and some massive serves. Man he's fun to watch.

When we asked P and B what they thought of the experience, they were most surprised by just how casual the whole affair was. Not only are you close to the players, but they walk through the venue, among the fans to get to and from the locker room. P tried to imagine what would happen if a pro-soccer play just casually walked through the stands to a match. Yeah, not going to happen.

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