Where: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.
When: Aug. 22-29, 2015
Defending Champions: Lukáš Rosol (singles); Robert Farah and Jean Sebastián Cabal (doubles)
History: From Jericho, N.Y., to New Haven, Conn., to the campus of Wake Forest University, the trek to Tobacco Road dates back to the early 1980s and the “Hamlet Challenge Cup” exhibition. Since 2011, the Winston-Salem Open has been the final men’s stop for the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the ATP World Tour on the road to the US Open. No. 1-ranked American John Isner, born in Greensboro, N.C., is a two-time singles champion (2011-12).
2014 Recap: Seventh-seeded Lukáš Rosol of the Czech Republic was the beneficiary of Isner’s unexpected withdrawal from the tournament on the eve of their quarterfinal matchup – Isner suffered an ankle injury in his third-round win over Kazahkstan’s Mikhail Kukushkin – and subsequent walkover. Rosol earned each victory going forward, however, surviving three-setters against No. 9 Yen-hsun Lu in the semis and former Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz, 3-6, 7-6, 7-5, in the final.
In the end, the 29-year-old from Brno rose above a singles field that included Isner, former Top 5 player Tommy Robredo, current Top 20 fixture Kevin Anderson and former US Open, Australian Open and Wimbledon quarterfinalist Jarkko Nieminen. The victory marked Rosol’s second career ATP title and first on hard courts; he had previously won the clay-court Romanian Open in Budapest in 2013.
In doubles, a pair of 28-year-old Colombians, Robert Farah and Juan Sebastián Cabal, brought a title from North to South America with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Australia’s John Peers and Great Britain’s Jamie Murray. The unseeded Farah and Cabal scored an early 7-6, 7-6 upset of doubles aces Daniel Nestor and Rohan Bopanna, the No. 2 seeds, in the first round and went on to dominate the remainder of the draw without dropping a set. The win over Peers and Murray provided the two their third title as a duo.
2015 Preview: Early expectations for the event will center on Isner, who will turn 30 in the spring before heading back to the U.S. for the summer swing. If he commits to play at Winston-Salem and is healthy, the hard-serving American should remain a stout favorite – though the walkover last year counts as a loss, Isner has yet to be beaten when he takes Center Court at Wake Forest. Isner won the BB&T Atlanta Open last year and finished second in the EAUSOS Bonus Challenge Standings to Canada’s Milos Raonic. Still seeking his first Series title overall, Isner’s performance in Winston-Salem could very well provide a thrilling conclusion to the race leading up to the 2015 US Open.
Fun Fact: Rosol has made a reputation for himself in recent years of rising to victory in matches that go the distance. As a qualifier at the 2011 French Open, he defeated the man he would eventually unseat as Winston-Salem Open champion, Jürgen Melzer – then No. 8 in the world – in five sets, 6-7, 6-4, 4-6, 7-6, 6-4. The next year in Wimbledon’s second round, Rosol notched his biggest win to date, against 14-time major winner and former world No. 1 Rafael Nadal, 6-7, 6-4, 6-4, 2-6, 6-4.