Watch List: Last call before U.S. Open
The Watch List spotlights the must-know storylines for the upcoming week in tennis. This week, it's the final preparations for the U.S. Open.
Winston-Salem: It's the last chance for the men to get any match play before the U.S. Open, which means a particularly stacked draw at the ATP 250 tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who injured his knee in a freak accident in Toronto (he literally ran into a fire hydrant and required stitches), is the top seed. Tomas Berdych, another top-10 player, anchoring the other side of the draw. Both men can and should be factors at the U.S. Open but they need to sort out their games here. Tsonga lost his only other lead-up match in Toronto (understandable given the Olympic hangover) and Berdych has struggled since Roland Garros, winning three of eight matches.
Meanwhile, the Americans pack the draw, too, with Andy Roddick, John Isner, Sam Querrey, Ryan Harrison, Donald Young and James Blake in action. Keep an eye on Roddick, who picked up a back injury in Cincinnati last week. The goal here is to get some matches in and leave the tournament injury-free.
New Haven Open: The story in New Haven is Caroline Wozniacki. She's won this tournament four consecutive years and Yale might as well give her a standing offer of admission should she ever want to live the co-ed life. They absolutely love her there.
Obviously things are different for Wozniacki this year, though. The Dane is neither a rising star (as she was when she won it the first time, in 2008) nor a top seed (as she was the last two years), and she doesn't come in with a bevy of titles under her belt. She's down to No. 8 in the rankings and bypassed by two members of her generation, Agnieszka Radwanska and Petra Kvitova. Why Radwanska or Kvitova is playing the week before the U.S. Open boggles my mind. They obviously have commitments to keep with the WTA Tour and tournament, but given how exhausted they both looked in Cincinnati, a good week of R&R would do them good.
A title in New Haven would be Wozniacki's first since, well, New Haven last year, a shocking drought for a woman who built her No. 1 résumé by collecting tour-level trophies. Even though Rory McIlroy won't be by her side in New Haven (thank goodness, no more of this PDA), maybe some of his PGA Championship-winning-mojo will catch on.
One final note on New Haven: it's nice to have Andrea Petkovic back. She makes her return from a brutal ankle injury this week.
U.S. Open Series: The Emirates U.S. Open Series title -- you know, that made-up thing that can result in a fantastically large payout at the U.S. Open -- is still up for grabs this week. With a title in Toronto and final appearance in Cincinnati, Novak Djokovic leads the men and will be the winner unless Sam Querrey wins the Winston-Salem title. Li Na, who pulled off the reverse Novak by winning in Cincinnati and making the final in Montreal, leads the women. Kvitova can still catch her if she makes the final of New Haven.
U.S. Open draw: Last year's champions, Djokovic and Samantha Stosur, will be on hand to assist with this year's draw ceremony, which will take place on Thursday at noon. The New York scenesters: Get ready for a media blitz. Maria Sharapova on Jimmy Fallon, Serena Williams on David Letterman and a slew of tennis players taking Manhattan by storm for sponsor events and press opportunities. No one does it like New York does it.