Defending Champ John Isner back in Newport today, Nishikori, Raonic, Hewitt also on Center Court
The first round of the Campbell's Hall of Fame Tennis Championships continues today with some of the draw's biggest names taking to the courts, including defending champion John Isner, who will play Sergei Bubka; Canada's No. 1 player Milos Raonic versus Matt Ebden, Kei Nishikori versus Igor Sisling, Lleyton Hewitt versus Vasek Pospisil, and Newport's 2009 finalist Sam Querrey versus Alex Bogomolov, Jr.
The tournament's top three seeds and former World No. 2 will all be on Center Court today. All four matches are first-time meetings. Topping off the tennis action today, the United States Professional Tennis Association will be offering free tennis clinics for all ages today - a great oppportunity for anyone who would like to try their hand at grass court tennis.
In the first match on, Dutchman Igor Sijsling takes on No. 2 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan, the top Asian player on the ATP World Tour. Both players are making their Newport debut. The 24-year-old Sijsling is ranked No. 110 and his best result this season is the quarter-finals on home soil in ‘s-Hertogenbosch last month (l. to eventual champ Ferrer). The 22-year-old Nishikori enters with a 17-10 match record on the season and he’s advanced to the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, his best Grand Slam result, Buenos Aires and Barcelona (the later two on clay). He is coming off a personal-best third round showing at Wimbledon (l. to del Potro). Nishikori, who is ranked No. 18, reached a career-high No. 16 on March 19.
In the second match, No. 3 seed Milos Raonic meets Aussie Matthew Ebden, who was doubles champion here last year (w/Harrison). The No. 23-ranked Raonic is making his main draw debut and two years ago he came into Newport ranked No. 278 and lost in the second round of qualifying. The 21-year-old Canadian is a two-time winner on the ATP World Tour this season and he owns a 27-10 match record. He also leads the ATP World Tour with 578 aces. Ebden is 9-13 on the year and ranked No .80.
In the third match, top seed and reigning champion John Isner meets Ukrainian qualifier Sergei Bubka, who is ranked No. 151. The No. 11-ranked Isner has spent 11 weeks in the Top 10 since first breaking into the elite club on March 19 after reaching his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final in Indian Wells (l. to Federer). Isner jumped off to a 20-7 start in the first four months but since May has went 3-5, failing to win back-to-back matches. He is coming off a second round loss at Roland Garros (l. to Mathieu 18-16 in fifth set) and opening round exit at Wimbledon (l. to Falla 7-5 in fifth set). Bubka is ranked No. 151, just six spots off his career-high set last November. Two years ago he won his first career ATP World Tour match here and was ranked No. 335. He is the son of world pole vault record holder and 1988 Olympics gold medalist Sergey Bubka, who is the only person to clear 20 feet.
In the final match, Canadian No. 2 Vasek Pospisil looks for his first ATP World Tour match win of the season (0-9) as he faces wild card and former World No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt. Although Pospisil is winless on the ATP World Tour, he is 12-7 with one title on the Challenger circuit. He is ranked No. 105 and he reached a career-high No. 95 on April 9. The 31-year-old Hewitt is making his first appearance in Newport since 1998 when he came in as a 17-year-old ranked No. 162. Hewitt is 4-5 on the season and he missed three and a-half months after undergoing toe surgery in February. He is trying to break a three-match losing streak.
There is plenty of action on outside courts with three seeds highlighting the schedule: No. 4 Denis Istomin and No. 5 Alex Bogomolov Jr. on Court 1, and No. 8 Gilles Muller on Court 2. Bogomolov Jr. takes on ’09 runner-up Sam Querrey in the opening match on Court 1.
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