Watch List: Halep, Kvitova and Bouchard head to U.S. Open tuneup
The Watch List highlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. With the U.S. Open just a week away, four WTA contenders for the title look to get their games on track and fine-tuned in New Haven, Conn., while John Isner looks to keep his streak alive at his hometown tournament.
Rebranded as the Connecticut Open, New Haven features a packed field scrambling to get some wins and confidence before the U.S. Open starts next Monday. No. 2 Simona Halep is the defending champion and tops the field with Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard and a resurgent Caroline Wozniacki rounding out the top four seeds. Kvitova and Bouchard have struggled the most over the North American hard court season. The Czech has won just one match in the last two weeks, while Bouchard went winless in Montreal and Cincinnati. Kvitova could open against Ekaterina Makarova, who beat her in three sets in Montreal. Bouchard opens against Bojana Jovanovski and could get a tricky second round match against Sam Stosur, who played at an incredible level in a two-set loss to Serena Williams in Cincinnati.
North Carolina native John Isner returns home once again to compete at the Winston-Salem Open, where he's the top seed this year. Kevin Anderson, Tommy Robredo and Leonardo Mayer round out the top four seeds. Isner is a two-time champion at the event, where he's 10-0 after winning the title in 2011 and 2012. He will open against either Bradley Klahn or 18-year-old Noah Rubin, who is making his ATP debut this week after receiving a wild card. The 2014 Wimbledon boys' champion committed to Wake Forest last month. This will be quite a debut opportunity for him with the tournament played on the Wake Forest campus.
Three players to keep an eye on in Winston-Salem are Tommy Robredo, Jerzy Janowicz and Steve Johnson. Robredo, the man who beat Roger Federer at the U.S. Open last year, is coming off a good week in Cincinnati where he stunned No. 1 Novak Djokovic in straight sets. Janowicz has had a year to forget, but he did earn a good win over Grigor Dimitrov in Cincinnati to win back-to-back matches on outdoor hard courts for only the second time this year. Johnson has been the second-best American on the summer hard courts, beating Isner in Washington and Gulbis last week in Cincinnati. He also took Milos Raonic to three sets before losing in a third-set tiebreaker.
U.S. Open qualifying and draw ceremony
The qualifying tournament runs from Tuesday to Friday. Admission is free so if you're in New York, it's worth hopping on the 7 train to watch some tennis and see some of the top players practicing around the grounds. The men's and women's draw will take place on Thursday at noon with defending champion Serena Williams in attendance (men's defending champion Rafael Nadal withdrew on Monday with a wrist injury).