Newport Ahoy! Ten Days Until Qualifying Begins at Hall of Fame Championships
There will be some new faces at the annual Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, Rhode Island in ten days. Headlining this year’s field is two-time defending champion and old hat John Isner.
Isner broke the dreaded ‘Van Alen Curse’ in 2011 and 2012 by being the first man in the history of the tournament to win the trophy as a #1 seed.
Isner’s luck may have wound down with that title. After that, he won Winston-Salem a month later, but he’s only had 1 ATP title in 2013 and a middling record to go along with it. His first round victory over Evgeny Donskoy at Wimbledon on Monday was a relief to many of his fans who simply have no idea what to expect from him when he takes the court these days.
This tournament is well-tailored for him. He will be the #2 seed this year behind Sam Querrey. Querrey hasn’t grasped a title since last July in Los Angeles. He started the year strong, but has not been able to stay in form and pick up momentum. He bowed out in the first round at Wimbledon yesterday against Bernie Tomic.
For all that, they’re still overwhelming co-favorites to hoist the Van Alen Cup in 2013. Because after Quisner, the next seed is Igor Sijsling. That’s right, the Dutchman who is 63 in the world is the #3 seed this year. You’ve got two top 25s in this draw and no player ranked 30-60 in the world. It’s a big drop-off and it gives the top seeds an incredible chance to snare the title.
Former UT standout and Australian Open Wild Card Champion Rhyne Williams will make his first appearance at Newport. Joining the 22 year old Williams in the freshman class will be Matteo Viola (25), Kenny De Schepper (26) , Michal Przysiezny (29), Marius Copil (22), Yuichi Sugita (24) and Ilya Marchenko (25). Adrian Mannarino also enters the main draw for the first time, although he played in Newport qualifiers last year.
The American contingent in the main draw will consist of Williams, Isner, Querrey, Denis Kudla, Jack Sock, James Blake, Ryan Harrison, Tim Smyczek, Rajeev Ram and Michael Russell.
Last year’s field had the feel of an ATP 500 with a lot of players using the grass as a warm-up for the London Olympic Games. This year, it’s back to business as usual. This field could be exactly the tonic that Querrey and Isner could desperately use to refresh their game heading into their preferred hard court tournaments. The loose field also gives upstarts like Denis Kudla, Jack Sock and Rhyne Williams a chance to advance to the late rounds.
There’s one guy who might make every player’s week a little tougher, and it’s this guy:
Hewitt has a way of coming in and taking over a tournament. Literally. The 2012 finalist is good enough for at least one more title, which always makes him a wild card at Newport.
I’ll provide on-site coverage of the qualifying and early to middle rounds from the grass in Newport, the coolest town to host a tennis tournament in the world. Remember, this is the place where they let bloggers pull chips to help determine the draw. Anything can happen.