First in Flight

Andy Roddick Serves Under the Lights in Winston-Salem.

The last ATP event before the U.S. Open kicks off this week at the Winston-Salem Open in North Carolina. Though some might still want to call it “The John Isner Invitational” since Isner, who grew up in nearby Greensboro won the inaugural title last year and will likely play the event until he retires, the WSO is distinguishing itself this year with a strong lineup for an ATP 250 event.

While Isner leads the expected deep list of American players competing including Andy Roddick, Ryan Harrison, Sam Querrey, James Blake and more, this year’s event boasts several top ten players including top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych along with veteran David Nalbandian who’s seeking his first win since his now infamous incident at Queen’s Club.

While last year Roddick saved the day so to speak by appearing at the last minute when then U.S. No.1 Mardy Fish withdrew that I wrote about here, this year’s better than expected field certainly has its share of potential U.S. Open darkhorses who, if they can gain some confidence this week, might just have a say in the second week of New York. Confidence being the key word as several of the players listed above could certainly use some after a less than spectacular summer for a variety of reasons.

Though it’s hard to say who could be “first in flight” in terms of who will be making a sooner than expected trip from North Carolina straight to the practice courts of Flushing Meadows, another final featuring hometown hero Isner wouldn’t be a surprise at all.

ATN will be on site for the next few days so be sure to stay tuned for updates. And be sure to check out my writing for Tennis Now and Steve G Tennis.

For more info about the Winston-Salem Open, go here.

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