Wake Forest University, Winston-Salem, N.C.
Aug. 16-23, 2014
Jurgen Melzer (singles), Daniel Nestor and Leander Paes (doubles)
Tournament Website: http://www.winstonsalemopen.com/
History: From Jericho, N.Y., to New Haven to the campus of Wake Forest University, the trek to Tobacco Road dates back to the early 1980s and the “Hamlet Challenge Cup” exhibition. Since 2011, the Winston-Salem Open has been the final men’s stop for the Emirates Airline US Open Series and the ATP World Tour on the summer swing to the US Open. No. 1-ranked American John Isner, born in Greensboro, N.C., is a two-time singles champion (2011-12).
2013 Recap: Isner, who was seeded third, was forced to withdraw from his title defense due to a hip injury. Prior to that, the lanky Yank was enjoying a career 2013 campaign, with victories over then-world No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Top 10 players Juan Martin del Potro and Milos Raonic. Coupled with the withdrawal of top-seeded Tomas Berdych (shoulder), the field suddenly appeared wide open – the perfect scenario for a veteran champion to capitalize. That’s exactly what 32-year-old Jürgen Melzer did, the Austrian lefty winning his fifth career ATP title by defeating France’s Gaël Monfils in the final, 6-3, 2-1 ret.
All-time great doubles champions Daniel Nestor (with Mark Knowles, and later, Nenad Zimonjic) and Leander Paes (with Mahesh Bhupathi) were rivals for the better part of two decades before aligning for their first career ATP doubles title as a team. The twosome beat the tandem of Treat Conrad Huey and Dominic Inglot, 7-6, 7-5, in the men’s doubles final.
2014 Preview: Almost assuredly Isner will return to Winston-Salem in 2014 as a favorite to win it all, a place where he remains undefeated in Emirates Airline US Open Series play. Time will tell if Melzer – who has fought through his own shoulder injury issues since last summer, severe enough to force him to miss the 2014 Australian Open – will offer up a title defense. Berdych, who lost to Isner in the 2012 final, enjoys playing this tournament as well as a last tune-up before making his way to New York City.
Fun Fact: It’s all in the pronunciation. Last year’s singles final, between a “Jürgen” and a “Gaël,” was the first – and very well may be the only – “all-umlaut” final in Emirates Airline US Open Series history.
– Nicholas J. Walz