Washington Open: Pegula and Fritz top seeds, but challenging draws await

With Americans Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula leading the fields at the Washington Open, we take a look at their paths to the title this week

Taylor Fritz, Jessica Pegula Washington 2023 Zuma: Panoramic

This week, the Washington Open sees both the ATP and WTA Tours come together for a combined ATP/WTA 500-level event as the North American hard-court swing begins in earnest.

With plenty of Americans in both draws, including top seeds Taylor Fritz and Jessica Pegula, we take a look at who’s playing in Washington, some of the big match ups we can expect, and the path Fritz and Pegula will need to take over the coming week in order to win.

Taylor Fritz looking to go back-to-back in Washington Open

Looking at the men’s draw, Taylor Fritz is the man to beat at the Washington Open 2023.

The world No 9 enters the tournament off the back of lifting the trophy in Atlanta yesterday, and will be glad to have a first round bye. The American looked imperious at the Atlanta Open, dropping just the one set en route to the title, and serving like a man possessed.

He’ll need to maintain this kind of level if he’s to win the Washington Open and become the first American since 2007 to do so, as the draw has not been kind to Fritz.

First up, the top seed will play either Zachary Svajda, an American qualifier, or Australian Max Purcell. Neither of these should pose too much of a threat for Fritz, but the round of 16 is where things become challenging. His potential opponents are either Andy Murray, Brandon Nakashima or the only man to take a set off him at the Atlanta Open, Aleksandar Vukic.

Any of these three will be a tough match for Fritz, who will then play a likely quarter-final against crowd favourite Christopher Eubanks. Win this, and he’ll potentially have to defeat one of the big-serving Hubert Hurkacz or Alexander Bublik, or maybe even Tallon Griekspoor if he continues his hard-court form.

Navigate these, and his final opponent is looking like it will be one of three tough Americans: Sebastian Korda, Frances Tiafoe or Ben Shelton. Or, a resurgent Felix Auger-Aliassime.

While Fritz may be the form player heading into the Washington Open, he certainly has his work cut out for him if he’s going to win consecutive titles on the American hard-courts.

Pegula faces potential early clash with Svitolina

For world No 3 Jessica Pegula, being the top seed in the women’s draw hasn’t made her path much easier, either.

She’ll also face a seasoned veteran early on, with either Elina Svitolina or Victoria Azarenka lurking in the quarterfinals, should she manage to win her opening match against Sofia Kenin or Magdalena Frech. Win this, and she’ll likely need to beat Maria Sakkari, former world No 3, or Madison Keys, the seventh seed, in a semi-final.

On the other side of the draw, Coco Gauff is looking like Pegula’s most likely opponent in the final, while the likes of Caroline Garcia or Belinda Bencic could also make a run.

Pegula is coming into the Washington Open having won the tournament in 2019, and desperate for some success in 2023. While she sits at No 3 in the rankings, the American is yet to lift a title this season, making three quarter-finals, three semi-finals and a final. With Aryna Sabalenka, Iga Swiatek and Elena Rybakina all sitting this week out, it’s a perfect opportunity for the 29-year-old to win in front of a home crowd.

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