The ATP World Tour returns to North America for the first time since April for the Hall of Fame Tennis Championships. Eight of the top-10 Americans are in action to kick off the U.S. summer swing. The only grass court tournament in the U.S. on the ATP World Tour is led by top seed Sam Querrey, who reached the final in 2009 and two-time defending champ John Isner, who is the No. 2 seed. In the updated Emirates ATP Rankings, Isner is the top American at No. 19 and Querrey is No. 2 at No. 21. Overall, there are 11 Americans in the main draw (not including qualifiers), including the newest additions to the Top 100, 20-year-olds Jack Sock at No. 84 and Denis Kudla at No. 90. The other seeds include: No. 3 Igor Sijsling of the Netherlands, No. 4 and last year’s finalist Lleyton Hewitt of Australia, No. 5 Edouard Roger-Vasselin of France, No. 6 Marinko Matosevic of Australia, No. 7 Kenny De Schepper of France, and No. 8/’09 champion Rajeev Ram of the U.S.
There are three other former finalists in the draw: wild card Prakash Amritraj of India (2008), Nicolas Mahut (2007) and James Blake (2002), who returns to Newport for the first time in eight years. Big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic is playing in his first ATP World Tour tournament since Houston in April. The former World No. 14 was sidelined with spiral meningitis in late April-May.
It will be a busy opening day of the tournament on Monday with four qualifying and four singles main draw matches on the schedule. In the first match on Center Court, 15-year-old wild card Stefan Kozlov, who is coming off a quarter-final at the Wimbledon juniors, makes his ATP World Tour debut against Michal Przysiezny of Poland. Kozlov came into Wimbledon as the highest-ranked American junior in the ITF World Rankings at No. 21 and was expected to break the Top 20. He is the youngest player in the Top 25.
In the next match on, Ryan Harrison and No. 2 Isner meet for the fourth time this year and the sixth overall (Isner leads 4-1). Isner won their previous grass court meeting here in the semi-finals last year and Harrison won in January in Sydney. Isner won the last two meetings on clay in Houston and Roland Garros in five sets (from two sets down). Isner, who retired in the third game of his second round match at Wimbledon due to a left knee injury, is 10-2 lifetime in Newport. Harrison is 5-3 here, reaching the quarter-finals in his debut in 2010 and the semis last year. He is ranked No. 110 (No. 48 last year).
In the third match on, Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who reached a Grand Slam-best fourth round at Wimbledon (l. to Kubot in five sets), takes on James Blake for the first time. Mannarino jumped from No. 111 to No. 75 after Wimbledon. Blake is 9-7 in his career in Newport, reaching the semi-finals in 2001 and the final in ’02 (l. to Dent). His last appearance came eight years ago (l. to Dupuis in 1st Rd.). In the final match on, Canadian Jesse Levine, a quarter-finalist in ’09, plays Yuichi Sugita of Japan.
In doubles action, Massachusetts native and Brown University graduate James Cerretani will partner with Kenny De Schepper to take on Roland Garros doubles finalist Nicolas Mahut, who is playing with Edouard Roger-Vasselin.
When the first round continues on Tuesday, No. 1 seed Sam Querrey will take on fellow American Tim Smyczek. The first round will also see former world No. 1 and Newport's 2012 Runner Up Lleyton Hewitt taking on fellow Australian Matt Ebden.