Tuesday afternoon at the Citi Open, a rainstorm delayed the start by more than an hour. But the top-seeded player in the women's draw, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, and No. 2 on the men's side, Alexandr Dolgopolov, did their best to get everything back on schedule for the night's top attraction, No. 1-seeded Mardy Fish.
After tweaking his injured ankle and losing the first set, Fish rallied for a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory over German Bjorn Phau. The American won with a show of strength, firing 15 aces and jumping on Phau's serve which weakened as the match progressed.
The stormy weather and threatening clouds provided a break from the usually oppressive conditions at the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center. Other than the weather, things generally went as expected on Tuesday.
In an efficient display of baseline power and precision, the Russian Pavlyuchenkova needed just 73 minutes to bring down high-flying Serb Bojana Jovanovski 6-4, 6-3. Meanwhile on the stadium court, Dolgopolov of the Ukraine made quick work of Italy's Flavio Cipolla, winning seven straight games en route to a 6-1, 6-3 victory that required only 59 minutes.
In a matchup of the two oldest players in the tournament, No. 4 Tommy Haas, 34, had little trouble with qualifier Michael Russell 6-4, 6-2.
After a Monday that featured upsets of two of the top five seeds on the women's side, Pavlyuchenkova, 21, stopped the trend against Jovanovski, 20, who was two days removed from winning her first WTA title Sunday in Baku, Azerbaijan.
After the players broke each other's serve in four straight games of the first set, Pavlyuchenkova took control with her superior ground strokes. Especially telling was the work of the Russian against the second serve of Jovanovski as she won 14 of 19 points. Her backhand was her primary weapon as she ripped several shots from the baseline to corners of the court that Jovanovski couldn't cover.
Playing in Washington is a disappointment this week for Pavlyuchenkova, considering the alternative. Last year at this time she was ranked No. 13 and on track for the Olympics. But she has regressed this year, going 13-18 and failing to get past the quarterfinals in any event, dropping to No. 28 in the world.
"I'm happy to have this opportunity to play in this tournament," Pavlyuchenkova said. "I think I still will get to the Olympics in the future. I still have time. I have to forget about it and focus on this one now."
Disappointment over missing the Olympics has been a theme for many of the top players this week at the Citi Open. It certainly is for serve-and-volley standout Haas, who relished an opportunity to play on the grass courts of Wimbledon. But he was passed over after 15 months of inactivity following hip and shoulder surgeries.
"When I watch the Olympics, I'm still surprised I'm not there," said Hass, who is ranked No. 36 in the world. "The German Olympic committee didn't nominate me, which was a mistake in my eyes."