Although the 2014 BB&T Atlanta Open isn't the most highly regarded event on the ATP Tour schedule, it's not lacking in star power. John Isner, Gael Monfils, Kevin Anderson and Sam Querrey highlight this year's field.
With the 2014 U.S. Open on the horizon, these warm-up tournaments are a critical part of the process heading into Flushing Meadows. Acclimatizing to the hot, hard-court conditions one will find at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center can be an invaluable asset.
Isner enters as the defending champion, having beaten James Blake in the quarterfinals, Lleyton Hewitt in the semifinals and then Kevin Anderson after three tiebreaks in the final last year.
In a conference call, the 29-year-old American spoke about how important U.S. Open preparation can be, via Rory Glynn of The Cincinnati Enquirer:
It's been a stretch of the season where in the past I've done extremely well, and it's helped my season out quite a bit. Obviously, the main goal is you want to play a lot of matches, you want to win a lot of matches, but you want to be 100 percent ready for the big one in New York. So for me I'm taking it a tournament at a time.
Isner's progress in Atlanta will be tracked by more than a few tennis fans in the U.S.
Atlanta may also help Anderson, in part, get over his problems at the U.S. Open. He's never advanced past the third round, which is a poor record for a player of his ability. Monfils has also had trouble in Flushing Meadows—his quarterfinal appearance in 2010 notwithstanding.
Those two will undoubtedly hope to build momentum in this tournament and use it in the weeks to come.
The BB&T Atlanta Open won't garner a ton of attention beyond the diehard followers, but it should be an enjoyable week of tennis.