By J. Fred Sidhu, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com
After meeting in the finals the past two years, could John Isner and two-time defending champion Mardy Fish make it three in a row? The two top-ranked Americans are set to return this summer: While Fish underwent surgery earlier this year to correct an irregular heartbeat, Isner stepped up to lead the U.S. to the Davis Cup semifinals. Tough draws await both players in a field that includes fellow Americans Andy Roddick, Ryan Harrison, James Blake and Jack Sock. Roddick reached the semifinals in 2010, while Harrison advanced to the final four last year. Blake, once ranked as high as No. 4 in the world, nearly knocked out Isner in last year’s second round before losing 7-6 (8), 6-7 (3), 7-5. The 19-year-old Sock, one of America’s future tennis stars, received a main draw wild card. Other players include South African Kevin Anderson, Kei Nishikori of Japan and Belgium’s Xavier Malisse.
Former world No. 1 Andy Roddick will always have fond memories of Atlanta. In 2001, the U.S. Davis Cup star defeated Belgium’s Xavier Malisse at a previous tour event on clay to win the first of his 30 career ATP singles titles.
One to Watch:
Brian Baker, who came back from five surgeries between 2005 and 2008. He reached the second round at Roland Garros this year, his first Grand Slam appearance since the 2005 US Open. Baker then won three matches in the Wimbledon main draw before bowing out in the Round of 16.
Did You Know?
After signing a multi-year agreement, the BB&T Atlanta Open makes its new home at Atlantic Station, a 138-acre live workplay community that has residences, office towers, restaurants, movie theaters and retail stores. The event will be played at the frequently visited tourist site for years to come.