2014 Winston-Salem Open Singles Draw
By John Delong
The field is set for this year’s Winston-Salem Open and the top seed is two-time WSO champion and local favorite John Isner.
Isner, a Greensboro native who won the inaugural 2011 and 2012 tournaments before being shelved with a hip injury last year, comes into the ATP World Tour 250 event on the heels of winning his ninth career tournament earlier this summer in Atlanta.
He is currently ranked No. 14, which makes him one of three top 20-ranked players in the 48-player Main Draw.
Defending champion Jurgen Melzer participated in Friday’s draw ceremony and labeled Isner and second seed Kevin Anderson as the players to beat. But Melzer also noted that there are great opportunities to be had for the rest of the field to get on a roll the way he did in claiming the title last year.
“I like John,” Melzer said. “He’s a good friend of mine. He’s a very humble person. Everybody wants him to win unless you are on the other side of the court. He has the home crowd advantage here, he has never lost here and he’s comfortable here, so let’s see what happens this year.”
Play starts on Saturday with two rounds of qualifying, then the Main Draw will start on Sunday at the Wake Forest Tennis Complex at BB&T Field.
The seeds after Isner and Anderson, who is currently ranked No. 17 and was added this week as one of the tournament’s four wildcards, are in order: No. 20 Tommy Robredo, who comes to Winston-Salem after knocking off world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati earlier this week; No. 26 Leonardo Mayer; No. 32 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez; No. 37 Joao Sousa; No. 38 Lukas Rosol; No. 39 Marcel Granollers; No. 43 Yen-Hsun Lu; No. 47 Pablo Andujar; No. 48 Donald Young; No. 49 Edouard Roger-Vasslin; No. 51 Mikhail Kukushkin; No. 52 Andreas Seppi; No. 53 Jarkko Nieminen and No. 55 Steve Johnson.
All 16 seeded players receive first-round byes.
There are some stellar first-round matchups.
Bradley Klahn, a former NCAA singles champion, will meet wild card and incoming Wake Forest freshman Noah Rubin, who will make his ATP World 250 debut after winning the Wimbledon junior and USTA Boys National 18 and Under singles titles earlier this summer.
The winner of that match will face Isner.
Other interesting first-round matchups include 2013 WSO semifinalist and seven-time ATP World Tour winner Sam Querrey against Pere Riba; 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist Jerzy Janowicz against Carlos Berlocq; wild card Ryan Harrison against German up-and-comer Jan-Lennard Struff; colorful German Dustin Brown against Alejandro Gonzalez; Paul-Henri Mathieu against wild card Robby Ginepri; and Robin Haase against Benoit Paire.
Melzer, who has been battling injuries ever since winning here last year, will face a qualifier in the first round. He comes into the tournament ranked No. 67.
“I think it’s a great draw,” Melzer said. “There are a lot of good players, but there’s nobody there that I say if I play my best tennis, why not defend the title? Of course you have to take it one match at a time, but I have played well here and I feel comfortable, so it’s a matter of getting through the early rounds.”
Saturday’s qualifying, which starts at 10 a.m., should have a little extra pizzazz to it with the presence of No. 50 David Goffin. Goffin was ranked No. 105 at the time of the WSO entry deadline and was not ranked high enough to make the cut for the Main Draw. But in the time since, he has won 20 straight matches, winning three Challenger events and then claiming his first career ATP World Tour crown at Kitzbuhel.
“This guy, he’s on a roll,” Melzer said. “He’s playing very well. He’s very talented. For him being in qualifying, it’s always tough to qualify, don’t get me wrong, but even playing qualies, to me he’s one of the favorites of the tournament.”
WSO tournament director Bill Oakes was the master of ceremonies at the draw ceremony, which was held at Deacon Tower. He thanked more than 400 volunteers who will give their services throughout the week, and he thanked the tennis fans of the Triad for their overwhelming support of the event.
Oakes was excited about the way the draw played out.
“It looks extremely wide open,” Oakes said. “I think Friday, if seeds were to hold, Robredo-Isner looks like it would be great match, so I’m excited about that. But there are also some really interesting first-round matches. Noah Rubin and Bradley Klahn, that’ll be a great, fun match to watch. Watching Robin Haase playing Benoit Paire? Both of those guys have been ranked much higher than they are right now. They’re both really active players on the court. I think it’s going to be a ton of fun to watch that match. So you start thinking about some of the first-round matches and you get real excited.”
Oakes noted that the quality and depth of this field surpasses last year, when Isner and several other players were forced to withdraw shortly before the tournament because of injuries.
“Last year I think Andreas Seppi at 21 was our highest-seeded player,” Oakes said. “This year we have three guys that are ranked inside the Top 20. When you compare us to 250s around the world, this is really what a 250 wants. They want to have three guys that are ranked in the top 20 in the world. We missed out on some other Top 20 players because of injuries, but the thing is we’re developing relationships with them and we know that we’re doing the right thing here, and it’s going to continue to pay off with better and better fields. I’m very happy with this field.”