The Draw for the Winston-Salem Open has been released and it looks to be a very competitive ATP event, as some of the top players in the World get ready for the U.S. Open in New York.
One player who has had a solid Summer is Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France who has been rewarded with the top seed in the tournament in which the top 16 receive byes to the second round. Tsonga's toughest test enroute to a possible semifinal could be 3rd seed, John Isner. Isner is the defending champ and is a local favorite who is ranked 10th in the world and could see his highest ranking at the U.S. Open with a successful run in the Winston-Salem Open.
Isner has some dangerous players in his quarter of the bracket however, with the likes of Viktor Troicki and Julien Benneteau looming. Meanwhile Tsonga could be tested in his first action as he will face the winner of Thomaz Bellucci and the always competitive Marcos Bashdatis in the second round. Marcel Granollers who is seeded 6, is also a threat in Tsonga's quarter of the bracket.
In the other half of the bracket, Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic is seeded 2nd. A match with 5th seeded Andy Roddick could be a possibility if both advance. Questions as to Roddick's future in the game have followed him around all summer and as the U.S. Open approaches, will magnify. There is the potential of a very intriguing match in the second round involving Roddick and possibly James Blake of the United States. If Blake advances against Albert Ramos, it would set up a match between two Americans in the twilight of their careers, who at one time were right there knocking at the door as the next up and comers, with the careers of players such as Sampras and Agassi ending.
The 4th seed in the tournament is Alexandr Dolgopolov, a player who has risen in the rankings. The Ukrainian has solid competition in his quarter with the likes of Sam Querrey and veterans Feliciano Lopez and David Nalbandian. Donald Young, another American in the field has a first round match against Leonardo Mayer of Argentina in his part of the draw.
A couple players to follow early include Ryan Harrison of the United States, who faces Go Soeda of Japan. Harrison was eliminated in the first round of the 2012 London Olympics and later apologized for losing his cool on the court. It will be interesting to see if Harrison has regained his focus as we head to the U.S. Open in just over a week.
Nicholas Mahut of France is in John Isner's quarter of the bracket. Those two names will forever be interlinked after having played the longest match in history, at Wimbledon a couple of years back. Mahut has his work cut out to reach Isner, but it is worth keeping an eye on.
Others to watch are veterans Tommy Robredo and Nikolay Davydenko, two players who were in the top 5 of the World at their peak.
Gael Monfils of France, who has been out of action since May with a right knee injury, had hoped to make his comeback in Winston-Salem. He has been forced to withdraw as it has been reported that he has had another set back with his knee.
The Winston-Salem Open has a chance to be a very competitive tournament as a number of top players in the World hope to sharpen their games in the last stop before the U.S. Open begins on August 27th.