Rafael Nadal to play Citi Open in front of full-capacity crowds

Washington DC: World number three, Rafael Nadal will make his Washington debut in front of 100 per cent fan capacity, Citi Open confirmed on Thursday.

After last year’s event was cancelled due to the pandemic, MDE Sports also announced that the tournament would pay full prizemoney this time.

The ATP 500 tennis tournament will be held 31 July-8 August at Rock Creek Park Tennis Center. The announcement comes after the National Park Service (NPS), which manages Rock Creek Park, issued updated guidelines to enable full capacity for Citi Open Fans.

“We are thrilled to be able to invite fans back to Rock Creek Park at full capacity,” said Mark Ein, Citi Open chairman and CEO of MDE Tennis in a release. “This is an exciting development, not just for tennis fans, but the whole DC community. We are grateful to the National Park Service for their long partnership with the event and enabling full capacity for the 2021 Citi Open.”

The development has also enabled organisers to restore full tournament prize money. In order to hold the event at the initial 50 percent fan capacity limit, players agreed to a 40 percent pay reduction. With all fan restrictions lifted and before any additional tickets are sold, MDE Sports increased the total 2021 Citi Open prize money by $750,000, returning the tournament purse to pre-pandemic levels.

“We are especially pleased to be able to pay the players full prize money after a difficult period of time for many on tour,” added Ein. “It is all something we never thought possible just a few months ago. To do this and welcome back fans without any restrictions is a testament to the resilience of this city and our community. We can’t wait to see the faces and hear the roar of full crowds once again. It will be a very special moment in the history of this great tournament.”

In his Citi Open debut, Nadal will look to claim his 89th ATP title, but will contend with a very deep field of contenders, including Canadians world No. 12 Denis Shapovalov and Next-Gen ATP star world No. 19 Felix Auger-Aliassime, Polish world No. 18 and 2021 Miami Open champion Hubert Hurkacz, and Russian world No. 29 Karen Khachanov, who collectively comprise four of the recent eight Wimbledon quarterfinalists.