James Blake has been added to the roster of next week's Winston-Salem Open main draw, and Lleyton Hewitt will compete in the tournament as the tournament’s final wildcard.
Blake has long been a favorite of Winston-Salem tennis fans.
The 31-year-old New Yorker has played some of his most-memorable matches here as a member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, going a perfect 6-0 in singles.
He beat Leander Paes and Harsh Mankad in a World Group Qualifier against India in 2001, beat Tommy Robredo and Feliciano Lopez in a quarterfinal win over Spain in 2007, and beat Paul-Henri Mathieu and Richard Gasquet in a quarterfinal win over Spain in 2008. Blake’s victory over Mathieu was perhaps the most exciting match in Winston-Salem Davis Cup history, as he fought off two match points and rallied to win 7-6, 6-7, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5.
Blake owns 10 ATP World Tour singles titles, including five in 2006. He won at Washington in 2002, at Stockholm and New Haven in 2005, in Stockholm again, Bangkok, Indianapolis, Las Vegas and Sydney in 2006, and at New Haven again and Sydney again in 2007.
He is also the best-selling author of Breaking Back: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life, which detailed his struggles of contracting Scoliosis at age 13, and then contracting Zoster – a condition that affected his hearing and vision and caused temporary paralysis on one side of his face – during his prime in 2004.
Blake is currently ranked No. 84 in the Olympus US Open ATP rankings.
Hewitt, 30, will go down as one of the game’s all-time greats and certainly as one of its greatest counter-punchers.
The Adelaide, Australia native became the youngest player in history to attain World No. 1 ranking in 2001 at age 20, the same year he won six tournaments including the US Open and the Tennis Masters Cup. He won Wimbledon and the Tennis Masters Cup in 2002.
He also won the 2000 US Open doubles title with Max Mirnyi.
All told, Hewitt has won 28 ATP World Tour singles titles, including 15 in a three-year span from 2000-2002. He went into this year having won at least one tournament in each of the past 12 years, which is the longest current active streak on tour.
He has been hobbled with injuries in recent years. Earlier this year he missed three months after undergoing surgery on his left foot. That has dropped his current ranking to No. 165. His best performances this year have been reaching the quarterfinals at San Jose, Memphis and Halle.
For more information or to purchase tickets to the Winston-Salem Open, please go to www.winstonsalemopen.com.
About the Olympus US Open Series
The Olympus US Open Series has established itself as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. Fans follow the action throughout the summer through national television coverage, culminating each week with back-to-back men’s and women’s finals on Sunday afternoon. Players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open. In 2008, Olympus became the first title sponsor of the Series. The Olympus US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express and Evian. Andy Murray won the 2010 Olympus US Open Series men’s title and Caroline Wozniacki won the women’s title. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history – $2.4 million – for winning the US Open and the Olympus US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Series, winning $2.2 million – the largest purse in women’s sports history – and again equaled that amount in 2010, winning the US Open and finishing the Olympus US Open Series in second place.
About the ATP
The ATP is the governing body of the men’s professional tennis circuits – the ATP World Tour, the ATP Challenger Tour and the ATP Champions Tour. With 62 tournaments in 32 countries, the ATP World Tour showcases the finest male athletes competing in the world’s most exciting venues. From Australia to Europe and the Americas to Asia, the stars of the ATP World Tour battle for prestigious titles and South African Airways 2011 ATP Rankings points at Grand Slams (non ATP events), ATP World Tour Masters 1000, ATP World Tour 500 and ATP World Tour 250 events. At the end of the season, only the world’s top 8 ranked men’s singles players and top 8 doubles teams, based on their performance throughout the year, will qualify to compete for the last title of the season at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Held at The O2 in London, the event will officially crown the 2011 ATP World Tour No.1 in singles and doubles. For more information, please visit www.ATPWorldTour.com.