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By Christopher Lancette

Emptying out my reporter’s notebook of observations, facts, ruminations and other random thoughts from the Citi Open …

One of the great things about covering any tournament is seeing players up close that I have not seen play in person before. Interviewing them is even better. Every tournament gives me a bevy of new people whose games and whose lives I take an interest in. The Citi Open was no different.

Alexandr Dolgopolov – Photo by Wonok Kim

Start with tournament champion Alexandr Dolgopolov. I love this guy’s game. He plays tennis the way we would all be well-served to live – boldly. He made it clear that he loves to live life on the edge. Dolgopolov is quite sincere when he says he simply does not worry about making a lot of errors. If he makes one more winner than he does errors in a match, he believes he will win.

A reporter friend of mine pointed out to the Ukrainian that Sam Querrey said his shots were crazy and that Tommy Haas described them as kind of strange. What did Dolgopolov think?

“I’d say they described it right, pretty much,” he said. “They are a bit unique. They are a bit crazy. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think that’s my way to play.”

Dolgopolov’s work here boosted him to No. 16 in the rankings. A long, hot week and rain-delayed final, though, may have spelled his doom at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. He lost in the first round to Radek Stepanek, last year’s Citi Open champion who also lost in the first round of the Rogers Cup a few days later.

Mica Gelb – Photo by Wonok Kim

Journalists who covered the Citi Open should fear for their jobs because an 11-year-old kid might just send us all to the unemployment lines. Mica Gelb asked the best question of the week when he asked Mardy Fish how he approaches playing close friend Tommy Haas. Not only was the follow-up question a timely one, the young man showed no fear when he jumped in to ask it. Fish treated the youngster like a full-fledged member of the press corps, giving Gelb a thoughtful answer: Fish said he has to put friendship aside when someone is trying to take his lunch money.

Gelb was in the pressroom thanks to the Citi Open offering fans the chance to purchase an experience for their kids enabling them to get a taste of the varied professions involved in a tennis tournament. Naturally, World Tennis Magazine pulled aside Gelb and his father Amos Gelb – a journalism instructor at Northwestern University here in the District – for a “Changeover” video interview. Look for that in the weeks ahead.

Irina Falconi – Photo by Wonok Kim

Speaking of “The Changeover”, we have a nice little strong of them on YouTube, ranging from a light-hearted conversation with the Bryan Brothers at the Rogers Cup 2011 to a serious conversation with Shahar Peer. Next up is Irina Falconi. She is make-you-fall-down funny. I caught up with her after her doubles final here. Look for that video soon but get the jump on following the quick-witted and hard-hitting WTA newbie on Twitter @irinafalconi.

I enjoyed watching Magdalena Rybarikova win the women’s title. I had not seen her play before and it’s always refreshing to see a new face in the pressroom. The 5’11’’ right-hander from Slovakia jumped in the tournament at the last minute and played fearlessly all week long. She said she played like she had nothing to lose — even in the finals against top seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who didn’t seem to enjoy “defending” the position one bit.  To Pavlyuchenkova’s credit, though, she still fought to scrape out a few points even when all was clearly lost. Rybarikova’s win sent her flying up the rankings, jumping from No. 102 to No. 67.

Magdalena Rybarikova (L) and Wayne Bryan – Photo by Wonok Kim

You’d think life would be kind to a young man for at least a few hours after he wins a doubles championship. (See the Tennis Grandstand report by Romi Cvitkovic on the match.) Not so for Treat Conrad Huey of University of Virginia and Washington Kastles fame. After he and partner Dominic Inglot knocked out Kevin Anderson and Sam Querrey, Huey dropped his sandwich on the ground. With our photographer Won-ok Kim’s camera clicking away, he instituted the five-second rule, picked it up and ate it.

Doubles part deux: I regret not having a chance to see more of, or interview, the Citi Open women’s doubles champions – Japan’s Shuko Aoyama and Kai-Chen Chang of Taiwan. I caught glimpses of Chang crushing some groundies in two matches and look forward to seeing if the 21-year-old can make a move inside the Top 100 in singles and doubles.

Lindsay Lee Waters – Photo by Romana Cvitkovic

One person I don’t need to see on the court again – at least not with me as the opponent – is women’s doubles specialist Lindsay Lee Waters. I renewed an acquaintance with her this week, reliving memories of the day 16 years ago that she gave me a beat-down. She was charming as ever in my interview with her, even if I didn’t give her enough competition for her to remember me. I thought I was done suffering from the humiliation until a college friend who witnessed the event dropped me an email after he read the story. He told me something I had forgotten: He brought his camera that day.

The horror.

Follow Christopher Lancette on Twitter @chrislancette.



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