The final warmup tournament before the US Open kicks off in a weeks time takes place in Winston Salem, North Carolina. The Winston-Salem Open is an ATP World Tour 250 event although the field is increased from the usual 32 to 48. Last year’s losing finalist Tomas Berdych was meant to headline the tournament, but just like John Isner, he decided to withdraw from this year’s competition and focus on the upcoming US Open.
It’s a surprise to see Berdych schedule this tournament given he has a US Open semi final to defend but as of yet he is yet to withdraw so it is assumed he will compete this week. Fresh off making the semi final of Cincinnati, he will open up here against either Ricardas Berankis or Kenny de Schepper. Berankis is in awful form lately, winning just one of his last ten matches and in the last two he has won just four games. However, he leads the head to head over the Frenchman 2-0. Roberto Bautista-Agut plays a qualifier which could include the likes of Thiemo de Bakker, David Goffin and Steve Johnson with the winner going on to play Martin Klizan. Klizan pulled off a major shock at the US Open by defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga last year but has failed to improve on hard courts this year, winning just one of eight matches.
Mardy Fish continues to find it difficult this year, last week being defeated by Philipp Kohlschreiber in straight sets. He will play against the talented Russian Evgeny Donskoy in his opener. Donskoy’s time in North America has been spent on the Challenger tour, where he was most recently a semi finalist in Aptos. 1-0 against Fish, Jarkko Nieminen awaits the winner. Grega Zemlja was defeated by Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in the opener with 2009 losing finalist Sam Querrey in round two.
John Isner – who has also decided to withdraw from the tournament (alongside Berdych), has had an outstanding summer, adding a final in Cincinnati to his Washington final and Atlanta title. He had set points against Rafael Nadal before losing in straight sets but will be looking to make it a fourth final of the summer as he attempts to defend his title. After Alex Bogomolov Jr. won in one of the few Sunday night matches his opponent will already be decided for round two. Isner has dominated the Russian – going 4-0 against him and dropping just one set. Jack Sock plays a qualifier with Dmitry Tursunov awaiting in round two. Tursunov had an impressive Cincinnati, making the quarter finals as qualifier and taking a set off Juan Martin Del Potro.
Both Jurgen Melzer and Igor Sijsling have lost their last four matches but the two could meet in round two if Sijsling can see off a qualifier. Sijsling already has two wins over Melzer this year, winning in straights in Memphis and Paris. Meanwhile, Benoit Paire is guaranteed to play an American after James Blake and Rhyne Williams were drawn together. Blake was a shock victor over Jerzy Janowicz last week but has struggled for consistency on the tour this year.
A winner in 2009, Fernando Verdasco was granted a wildcard and will play an American in his opening match. Michael Russell and Tim Smyczek are currently at 2-2 in their head to head and the fifth meeting looks a tough one to call – Smyczek is just 2-6 on hard courts at main tour level this year. Despite seven straight losses, Lukas Rosol‘s ranking still remains high and he will be 11th seed here. Robin Haase (0-1 H2H) looks to make it eight after defeating Adrian Mannarino in straight sets earlier today.
Gael Monfils makes his return from a biceps injury in Umag and gets a nice draw against an opponent who much prefers the clay. Guido Pella will play Leonardo Mayer for the chance to meet the Frenchman, with Mayer currently leading the head to head 1-0 although there is little to be read into a match from five years ago. Tommy Robredo was a surprise winner over Stanislas Wawrinka last week but was sent crashing back down to earth by Berdych, who lost just three games to the Spaniard. Awaiting the fourth seed in round two will most likely be Denis Istomin. The Uzbek plays Guillaume Rufin in his first warmup match on hard courts this summer, having spent is time on clay in Europe in the past few weeks.
The final quarter sees Andreas Seppi as second seed but the Italian is far from a cert to make it through his quarter. Bobby Reynolds or a qualifier will most likely fail to defeat Seppi but in round three Yen Hsun-Lu could earn a second win over Seppi in 2013. Lu defeated wildcard Romain Bogaerts 6-1 6-1 to make it into the second round where he will play Pablo Andujar. Andujar’s hard court results have been poor this year with just two wins in nine matches while Lu is more than capable despite spending much of his time at weaker Challenger events rather than ATP 250’s.
After going 21-11 on hard courts last year, Alexandr Dolgopolov has been a massive disappointment this year. He has gone 3-8 this year, losing to the likes of Somdev Devvarman and Ryan Harrison in recent weeks. Dolgopolov should have the talent to see off Daniel Gimeno-Traver or Edouard Roger Vasselin but he remains unpredictable. Eighth seed Juan Monaco served for the first set against Novak Djokovic last week but eventually lost in straights. Monaco earned his first win of the year on the surface in the previous round but is likely to at least double that tally this week with either Nicolas Mahut or Lukasz Kubot in his opener in Winston Salem. Both players lost in qualifiers of Cincinnati – Kubot to Benjamin Becker while Mahut somehow lost to youngster Mackenzie Macdonald who did not have an ATP ranking prior to that match.