Andy Roddick has a week to get ready for the US Open, and he plans to make the most of it at the inaugural Winston-Salem Open.
Roddick, the 30-time winner on the ATP World Tour and the top American for most of the last decade, was awarded the Winston-Salem Open’s No. 1 seed in a Friday draw ceremony held at BB&T Ballpark.
He has been battling an abdominal strain for much of the summer, and he said there was a sense of urgency to play well and make an extended run this week before heading up to New York.
"There’s always a sense of urgency," Roddick said. "I don’t know that I’ve ever played without one. But obviously by me choosing to play here, I need matches. I’ve played one tournament since Wimbledon, which is unfortunate. But the fact that the tournament is here in Winston-Salem and I have good memories here, I think it made the decision that much easier, as opposed to going to New York and having to scramble for practice matches. It’s a place I feel comfortable, it’s a place where I’ve played well, so it made it a pretty obvious decision for me to be here."
Roddick first came to Winston-Salem as a teenager to play in the Flow Motors Invitational. Then after becoming the top American player, he led the United States in three Davis Cup ties at Joel Coliseum – against India in 2001, against Spain in 2007 and against France in 2008.
Currently ranked No. 15 in the South African Airways ATP rankings, he has played only one match since Wimbledon, losing in the first round to Philipp Kohlschreiber at Cincinnati earlier this week.
The strained abdomen, he said, was improving.
"Getting better every day," he said. "I always knew going to Cincinnati it was going to be tight as far as timelines for that event. That being said, I actually played pretty well for two sets, probably better than I expected to. The thing is, there’s an injury, and with this type of thing there’s not much running, there’s not much of anything because it’s the type of thing where if you breathe hard it affects the area. So on top of the actual injury, it’s a matter of getting my legs back under me and getting my fitness back to where it needs to be."
He has been injury-free for most of his career before being shelved with shoulder problems during the clay-court season and then straining the abdomen at the start of the hardcourt season.
"It’s frustrating, especially when you come back and there’s so much onus on getting matches in," he said. "When you get two or three matches in, everything just starts flowing. It’s like anything you do over and over, muscle memory sets in and then you do it instinctively. I’m just looking to try to get to that point. Once I get three or four matches in I don’t worry about what my form will be then, but it’s easier said than done getting to that point."
Roddick will play the winner of the first-round match between Albert Ramos and Lukas Rosol. Also in Roddick’s quarter of the draw is former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt, who is like Roddick is here as a wildcard.
The rest of the seeds, all of whom will receive first-round byes in the 48-player Main Draw, are: 2 Jurgen Melzer; 3 Alexandr Dolgopolov; 4 John Isner; 5 Nikolay Davydenko; 6 Kevin Anderson; 7 Juan Monaco; 8 Marcos Baghdatis; 9 Sergiy Stakhovsky; 10 Robin Haase; 11 Dmitry Tursunov; 12 Pablo Andujar; 13 Jarkko Niemenen; 14 Grigor Dimitrov; 15 Santiago Giraldo; and 16 Igor Kunitsyn.
Isner, the Greensboro native and local favorite, will play the winner of the first-round match between Dudi Sela and Filippo Volandri. Tournament officials have already announced that Isner’s second-round match will be played on Tuesday afternoon, as part of "Super Tuesday" with 10 of the seeded players playing.
Isner is in the same quarter of the draw with Baghdatis, who will face the winner of the Ryan Sweeting-Olivier Rochus first-round match.
Melzer, currently ranked No. 18 in the South African Airways ATP rankings, could face a test in his first match. He’ll play the winner of the match between Igor Andreev and Australian teen sensation Bernard Tomic. Also in Melzer’s quarter of the draw are Davydenko and Stakhovsky.
Other interesting first-round matches include longtime Winston-Salem favorite James Blake against Mikhail Kukushkin, and rising American teen Ryan Harrison against Victor Hanescu. Blake would face Haase in the second round, and Harrison would face Anderson.
One other oddity of the draw is that two qualifiers will meet in the first round. The chances of that, according to Jason Parsley, an assistant professor in the Wake Forest University math department, is 1,000 to one. The winner between the two qualifiers would face Kunitsyn in the second round.
Qualifying starts Saturday morning at the Wake Forest tennis complex, with a 32-player draw. Fans are reminded that they can gain free admission to the grounds by bringing five non-perishable items to the Lowes Food Drive.
The Main Draw will start Sunday.
Roddick, by the way, had good first impressions of the new Wake Forest tennis complex and had high praise for tournament director Bill Oakes.
"It looks great so far," he said. "It looks really good. Everything looks great and I expected as much. I know Bill and his history in tennis, and so this is to be expected and it’s a pleasure to be here."