by Robin Lindner
The radar looked like a box of crayons.
It's summertime in the south. Storms are a regular occurence, but just before 4:00 pm a severe cell brought blinding rain, 60 mile-per-hour winds and spectacular lightning to Winston-Salem. The no. 1 seed of the 2019 Winston-Salem Open Benoit Paire and his opponent Pablo Carreno Busta, seeded 11, were at 4-3 on Center Court when the cloud coverage went from gray to dangerous. More than an inch rain fell in less than an hour according to local weather experts.
It was the wind, however, that did the real damage knocking out power to the Winston-Salem Open headquarters in Bridger Field House and the Wake Forest Tennis Complex as well as the surrounding areas. A band of summer showers succeeded the nasty deluge and wall of water and wind. By the time the courts were playable, daylight would not cooperate.
"It just became a safety issue for the players and the spectators. We didn't have enough light to comfortably protect our players or our patrons," said Tournament Director Bill Oakes.
The result of Thursday's washout is Winston-Salem Open history ... in a good way. Friday will be a double-header for fans and for winning players. Match play begins at 11:00 a.m. with two doubles semi-finals being played concurrently on Center Court and Court 2. Following those matches are all four singles quarterfinals.
The winners of all the day session matches take the courts in the afternoon (not before 4:00 p.m.) for a stellar night of tennis. Fans will enjoy the doubles final and both singles semi-finals.
Oakes says this proves the Winston-Salem Open is the best tune-up for the US Open. "This was an easy decision. We have to get all the matches in, so scheduling the sessions to protect the players determined how we timed play. The players are not concerned about two matches tomorrow. This is best of two out of three [sets], and next week in New York it's best three out of five. This is really a great opportunity for players who are prepared and in shape."
The real winners won't be on court, though. Oakes says this is a unique treat for fans. "It's not often you get to see players who have been or who will be competing in the second week of grand slam tournaments, especially in such an intimate setting. We really pride ourselves on offering people that special experience and our genuine attitude of hospitality. We know people have lots of questions about the way things are done. We know there is a lot of feedback, but we are so grateful to have so many passionate fans in the Piedmont and across the globe."
Tickets for sessions 10 and 11 will be accepted at the gate for the 11:00 a.m. (day) session. Tickets for the standard 4:00 p.m. will be required to enter the stadium once the doubles final begins.
Click here for the full order of play.