North Carolina-native John Isner has owned the first two editions of this 48-draw ATP World Tour 250 tournament, held in the week before the US Open. The big man is playing well and a genuine threat for a Grand Slam on hard courts.
The lone top 10 player in the draw is Tomas Berdych, who gets a decent draw and could face Isner in the semi-finals. Berdych without a title this year is 37-15 and would love to win this in preparation for Flushing Meadow. James Blake found some form last week in beating Jerzy Janowicz and gets young upstart Rhyne Williams first round.
Wild cards go to Mardy Fish, Fernando Verdasco and the Belgian Romain Bogaerts (who?) ranked 1092, a collegiate player at Wake Forest University, where the tournament grounds are located.
Let’s break it down:
ATP Level: 250
Surface: Outdoor Hard
Defending Champion: John Isner – He has a 10-0 tournament record and gunning for a 3rd in a row. Maybe they should rename it the ‘John Isner Trophy’?
Nasty Floater: Mardy Fish – Can cause anyone trouble and if fit, may boss himself into the semi-finals.
Veteran Watch: James Blake – I wrote him off last week, but he proved me wrong. There’s life in the old dog yet.
Up and Coming: Ricardas Berankis – Could face Berdych in round 2 and is the last of the young Brat pack to make an impression.
Slumping: Sam Querry – The Samurai is looking to win back-to-back matches for the first time since Roland Garros after a 1st round loss in Cincy.
On Fire: Dimitry Tursunov – Is having a great US hard court season, now ranked 44 and could trouble Isner in round 3.
My pick: Tomas Berdych – As the only top 10 player should take this one. He played well in Cincy, so he’s odd on favorite.
Did You Know? The Winston-Salem Open is part of the Emirates Airline US Open Series.
Thanks for reading and check back next week for more picks!