Where: Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.
When: Aug. 19-26, 2017
Defending champions: Pablo Carreno Busta (singles), Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen (doubles)
Tournament website: winstonsalemopen.com
The last stop before the US Open, the Winston-Salem Open sees some of the top men’s players in the game make a final tune-up on the road to New York City.
The ATP World Tour 250 event is being held in Winston-Salem for the seventh consecutive year. Its past champions are John Isner (2011-12), Jurgen Melzer (2013), Lukas Rosol (2014), Kevin Anderson (2015) and Pablo Carreno Busta (2016).
Previously, the event was hosted in Long Island (1990-2004) and New Haven (2005-10), held in conjunction with the New Haven women's event, the Connecticut Open. Past champions in those locations include Long Island winners Stefan Edberg, Lleyton Hewitt, Ivan Lendl and Patrick Rafter, and New Haven titlists James Blake and Marin Cilic.
Pablo Carreno Busta won his first career title Saturday at Winston-Salem last summer, advancing to the final without dropping a set – including an upset of No. 3 seed Pablo Cuevas in the round of 16 – and rallying to beat No. 2 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, 6-7, 7-6, 6-4. Carreno Busta’s win prevented his Spanish countryman, a last-minute wild card entrant, from achieving his fifth career win.
In the doubles final, Guillermo Garcia-Lopez and Henri Kontinen also came back from the brink of defeat to edge Leander Paes and Andre Begeman, 4-6, 7-6, [10-8]. Garcia-Lopez and Kontinen, playing their first event together, saved six championship points in the second-set breaker and fought their way back into the match to claim Kontinen’s 10th doubles title and Garcia-Lopez’s fourth.
The final stop on the road to New York City, the Winston-Salem Open attracts a mix of top international talent, established veterans and future stars.
Last year’s field included former Top 10 players Kevin Anderson and Richard Gasquet, Top 30 mainstays Roberto Bautista Agut, Pablo Cuevas and Gilles Simon and popular Americans Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey. Three of the four wild cards went to young Americans, including rising star Taylor Fritz, Bjorn Fratangelo and Rajeev Ram.
In previous years, the likes of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Borna Coric and John Isner have also included Winston-Salem in their final US Open preparations, so expect a strong showing from players looking to break into the Top 32 by the end of the year as well as a handful of elite players working out the final kinks in their game before the final major of the season.
Since 2008, only one person has appeared in more than one final: John Isner, who won his first Winston-Salem Open in 2011 and repeated as champion the following summer. In those nine years, nine different nationalities have been represented in the championship match, led by the U.S., France and Spain with three each.
– Ashley Marshall