Established in 2011, the Winston-Salem Open is one of five American events during the North American hard court swing. The 2020 edition of the tournament was due to take place this month, before its cancellation due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
ATPTour.com looks at five things to know about the event.
An Award-Winning Tournament
Held at the Wake Forest University, the stars of the ATP Tour can take advantage of many sporting facilities at the Winston-Salem Open. The university’s tennis complex features 11 available practice courts and players also have opportunities to work out on campus, including on the football field, which is adjacent to the Wake Forest Tennis Complex.
The facilities have proved a hit with players since the tournament made its debut on the ATP Tour calendar in 2011. Just five years later, the event was awarded the 2016 ATP 250 Tournament of the Year award alongside the Stockholm Open. The award is voted for by ATP Tour players.
“Every player comes up and says, ‘What an amazing event. It’s so friendly. Loads of practice courts. Good facilities.’ So no wonder it won the best ATP 250 award on Tour. I can see why it won. It’s brilliant,” said former ATP Executive Chairman and President Chris Kermode in 2016.
Early Success For Isner
John Isner is the only player to have won multiple singles trophies in Winston-Salem. The 6’10” right-hander was forced to five deciding sets in the opening two editions of the event in 2011 and 2012, but held his nerve on each occasion to claim back-to-back titles.
Isner beat Marcos Baghdatis, Andy Roddick and Julien Benneteau to clinch the 2011 crown and returned the following year to successfully defend his title. From the semi-finals, the American won consecutive final-set tie-breaks against Top 10 rivals Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Tomas Berdych to lift the trophy.
Rojer/Tecau’s Perfect Record
Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau have never lost a set in Winston-Salem. The pair has made two appearances at the ATP 250 and won each of the eight matches it has contested.
In 2017, Rojer and Tecau beat Julio Peralta and Horacio Zeballos to capture their 15th tour-level crown as a team. The following year, Rojer and Tecau claimed their second straight Winston-Salem trophy with a 6-4, 6-2 final win against Jamie Cerretani and 2013 titlist Leander Paes.
Hurkacz Ends Polish Title Drought
Hubert Hurkacz ended a 37-year wait for a Polish ATP Tour singles titlist in Winston-Salem last year. The Wroclaw native rallied from a set down against Frances Tiafoe and beat Denis Shapovalov in straight sets to reach his maiden tour-level final.
In the final, Hurkacz broke Benoit Paire on five occasions to claim the trophy and become the first tour-level singles titlist from his country since Wojtek Fibak lifted the WCT Chicago title in 1982.
“That is a lot of time [without a Polish champion]. I am so glad that I have been able to win an ATP Tour event,” said Hurkacz. “I hope many more guys will join me soon and that I will win some more. It means a lot to me and I am glad that I won this tournament here.”
The Final Preparation For The US Open
Usually held the week before the US Open, the Winston-Salem Open provides players with their last opportunity to gain match practice ahead of the final Grand Slam event of the year. Since the tournament began in 2011, two singles champions have built on their success in North Carolina with runs to the US Open quarter-finals.
Isner reached the last eight in New York in 2011, where he fell in a fourth-set tie-break to Andy Murray. Four years later, Kevin Anderson matched Isner’s run in style. The South African defeated Dominic Thiem and Murray in back-to-back matches to reach the quarter-finals.
In doubles, Rojer and Tecau used their 2017 success in North Carolina as a springboard for their successful US Open title bid. The Dutch-Romanian tandem won 10 matches across the two events to double their 2017 trophy count to four titles. Alongside different partners in 2013, Paes also claimed the Winston-Salem and US Open trophies in the same year.