Singles Draw | Qualifying Draw
John Isner isn’t merely the local favorite as the seventh annual Winston-Salem Open gets under way Saturday at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
The Greensboro native is also the odds-on favorite to win his third WSO title, according to his fellow competitors.
Isner locked up the No. 3 seed when the tournament pairings were announced on Friday, with Roberto Bautista Agut coming in as the No. 1 seed and defending champion Pablo Carreno Busta getting the No. 2 seed.
Given the homecourt advantage and Isner’s terrific showing in Cincinnati this week, where he has reached Saturday’s semifinals, opposing players have no problem considering him the player to beat in the WSO’s 48-player Main Draw.
“I think John Isner is one of the big favorites,” said 2011 finalist Julien Benneteau, who was the ATP player representative at the draw ceremony. “He already won this tournament, I know that. He has never lost here. So he is the big favorite. His home is like 20 minutes away so for him I think he feels at home here, so I think he’s a big favorite.
“After that, as we always say, we are the week before the US Open and anything can happen.”
Isner beat Benneteau in the inaugural WSO in 2011 and then successfully defended his title in 2012 by beating Tomas Berdych in the finals. Isner also won his first two matches in the 2014 WSO but was forced with pull out with an injury at that point, so he is a perfect 12-0 on Stadium Court.
Isner notched the 11th and 12th titles of his career earlier in the summer when he won at Newport and Atlanta on back-to-back weeks.
“It’s an open draw,” Benneteau said. “There are no top 10 guys. Isner is always very difficult to beat here. When it’s hot here, the court is very fast and the ball is bouncing. But there are several players here who like the heat. I think we’ll see a lot of good matches, for sure.”
All told, the 48-player Main Draw includes 14 players from the Top 50 and 40 players from the Top 100.
The top 16 seeds, who all receive first-round byes, are: No. 1 Bautista Agut; No. 2 Carreno Busta; No. 3. Isner; No. 4 2015 WSO champion Kevin Anderson; No. 5 Pablo Cuevas; No. 6 Steve Johnson; No. 7 Paolo Lorenzi; No. 8 Fernando Verdasco; No. 9 Gilles Simon; No. 10 Yuichi Sugita; No. 11 Viktor Troicki; No. 12 Aljaz Bedene; No. 13 Hyeon Chung; No. 14 Borna Coric; No. 15 Daniil Medvedev; and No. 16 Jiri Vesely.
Bautista Agut will be looking for revenge after losing in the final last year, with Carreno Busta pulling out a 6-7 (6), 7-6 (1), 6-4 victory. Bautista Agut is currently ranked No. 14, after reaching a career-best No. 13 late last year. He won the fifth title of his career earlier this year at Chennai.
Carreno Busta is currently ranked No. 17, after reaching a career-high No. 15 earlier this summer. His win in the WSO last year was the first of his career, and he has won twice since, in Moscow last fall and at Estoril this spring.
Anderson is always a Winston-Salem favorite, after winning the 2015 title by beating Pierre-Hugues Herbert in the final.
Others of note in the field who are not seeded include #NextGen standouts Andrey Rublev and Taylor Fritz, along with veterans Donald Young, Herbert, Yen-Hsun Lu, Janko Tipsarevic, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Marcos Baghdatis, Andreas Seppi, and Ernests Gulbis. Tipsarevic, Baghdatis and Gulbis are all former Top 10 players.
Wake Forest will also be represented with Petros Chrysochos in the field as a wildcard.
Qualifying is scheduled to begin at noon on Saturday with 16 players vying for four spots in the Main Draw. Among the entries is Kyle Edmund, who is currently ranked No. 45 and would have been seeded had he met the original entry deadline. He decided at the last minute to enter.