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Americans (led by Isner), Aussies (led by Kyrgios) dominate field at BB&T Atlanta Open


By Ricky Dimon


There are 28 players in the main draw of the BB&T Atlanta Open. Exactly half–that’s 14 for those who need some math help!–are from either the United States (8) or Australia (6).


It is no surprise, of course, that Americans are once again flocking to Atlanta. They pretty much always show up for what has been the start of the annual U.S. Open Series for the past eight years–nine including this one. Seven-time finalist (four-time champion) John Isner is once again leading the charge for the host nation at this 250-point event. Perennially backed by a pro-USA, pro-University of Georgia crowd, Isner is 27-4 lifetime at the BB&T Atlanta Open–including 19-1 in his last 20 matches–and he has never lost prior to the semifinals in eight trips.


The recent Wimbledon semifinalist is joined in the 2018 field by countrymen Frances Tiafoe, Ryan Harrison, Donald Young, Taylor Fritz, Tom Smyczek, Noah Rubin, and wild card Emil Reinberg. Tiafoe is the second-highest seed (fifth) among the Americans.


“I’ll be excited to get back to Atlanta–it is a great city and the hometown of my coach, Robby Ginepri,” Tiafoe said. “It’s the start of the summer hard-court season and the U.S. Open Series, so I’ll be ready.”


“Frances is one of the young stars of tennis,” tournament director Eddie Gonzalez commented. “His positive attitude and infectious personality, combined with his aggressive all court game makes him one of the most entertaining players to watch.”


An Isner-Tiafoe showdown in the semis is possible, but the world No. 9′s toughest competition may come from the Aussies. After all, Nick Kyrgios is the second seed and the only active player on tour who has ever defeated Isner in Atlanta. Isner’s first three losses came against fellow American Mardy Fish in the first two finals in the tournament’s history (2010 and 2011) and against American Andy Roddick in in the 2012 semifinals. On the heels of three straight titles, Isner then succumbed to Kyrgios 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in the 2016 title match.


Kyrgios missed this event last season because of injury, helping pave Isner’s way to title No. 4. But he is healthy now, and joined this week by fellow Aussies Matthew Ebden, Alex de Minaur, qualifier Thanasi Kokkinakis, qualifier Alex Bolt, and James Duckworth.


“Atlanta is just a great sports town and I feed off that,” Kyrgios explained. “I felt the support of the sold-out stadium crowds and can’t wait to spend another week in Atlanta at a great venue in Atlantic Station and in front of passionate tennis fans.”


Kyrgios sounds happy to work double duty in Atlanta, as he has formed an intriguing doubles partnership with Kokkinakis. The Kyrgios-Kokkinakis team is taking the court on Monday, while Kokkinakis will likely begin his main-draw singles campaign on Tuesday. Kyrgios’ first singles match will be on either Wednesday or Thursday.


Editors Note: Opening night Match is Donald Young Jr. from Atlanta playing 7 foot tall Ivo the big serving KARLOVIC. Should be a great match. D.Y. has a great return of serve. And Dr. Ivo is getting up there, no height he is there. Age. Father Time. Popcorn match for sure. (LJ)


Ricky contributes to 10sballs.com and also maintains his own tennis website, The Grandstand. You can follow him on twitter at @Dimonator.

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