|John Isner will bring his booming serve to the|
SAP Open in February. Photo by Paul Bauman
Tournament officials announced the entries of Isner, ranked 14th, and No. 18 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine on Wednesday. The SAP Open, the second-oldest tournament in the United States, will be played for the 125th and last time Feb. 11-17 at HP Pavilion. Rio de Janeiro will replace San Jose on the calendar beginning in 2014.
Isner and Dolgopolov will join two-time defending champion Milos Raonic of Canada, former SAP Open champions Lleyton Hewitt (2002) of Australia and Fernando Verdasco (2010) of Spain, and reigning Olympic men's doubles gold medalists Bob and Mike Bryan.
As was the case this year, the tournament will have no top-10 singles players (unless one or more accepts a late wild card). It had one in 2011 (No. 9 Verdasco), one in 2010 (No. 7 Andy Roddick) and two in 2009 (No. 6 Roddick and No. 7 Juan Martin del Potro). The last top-five player to enter was No. 4 Roddick in 2007. Roddick, a three-time SAP Open champion (2004, 2005 and 2008), retired in September, one week after his 30th birthday.
Europeans Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have never played in the SAP Open, which is played the same week as a much richer tournament in Rotterdam. Andy Murray, who won his first Grand Slam title in September at the U.S. Open, has not played in the SAP Open since winning the 2006 and 2007 titles at 18 and 19 years old. The inability to attact any of the Big Four and the lack of a American star amid Roddick's decline since 2008 are big reasons for the tournament's impending demise.
Isner, 6-foot-9, has played in the SAP Open twice. He fell to Guillermo Garcia-Lopez of Spain 7-6, (4), 6-7 (1), 7-6 (11) in the 2008 quarterfinals and to countryman Mardy Fish 6-2, 6-7 (4), 7-5 in second round in 2009.
A 27-year-old native of Greensboro, N.C., living in Tampa, Fla., Isner turned pro in 2007 after being named an All-American for all four years at the University of Georgia. He has won five career singles titles: Winston-Salem, N.C., on hardcourt and Newport, R.I., on grass for the past two years each and Auckland on hardcourt in 2010. His reached the quarterfinals of the 2011 U.S. Open for his best Grand Slam result and climbed to a career-high No. 9 last April.
Dolgopolov, 24, will make his SAP Open debut. The 5-foot-11 veteran has won two career singles titles, Umag on clay in 2011 and Washington on hardcourt this past summer, and he advanced to the quarterfinals of the 2011 Australian Open.
Ticket packages and group tickets for the SAP Open are available by calling (408) ACE-2121. Individual session tickets will go on sale in January. For more information, visit www.sapopentennis.com.
CALENDARJan. 14-27, 2013 -- AUSTRALIAN OPEN, www.australianopen.org. 2012 champions: Novak Djokovic, Victoria Azarenka, Leander Paes-Radek Stepanek, Svetlana Kuznetsova-Vera Zvonareva.
Jan. 15 -- Sacramento State men at Stanford in spring season opener for both teams, 1:30 p.m, www.hornetsports.com, www.gostanford.com.
Jan. 18 -- Stanford women open spring season at Freeman Invitational in Las Vegas and at NCTC Classic in Indian Wells, Calif., times TBA, www.gostanford.com. UC Davis women open spring season vs. Northern Arizona in Tempe, Ariz., 1 p.m., www.ucdavisaggies.com.
Jan. 19 -- UC Davis men at Santa Clara in spring season opener for both teams, 10 a.m., www.ucdavisaggies.com, www.santaclarabroncos.com.
Feb. 1 -- Sacramento State women open spring season at Arizona, 12:30 p.m., www.hornetsports.com.
Feb. 1-3, 2013 -- Davis Cup, first round, Brazil at United States, www.daviscup.com.
Feb. 9-10, 2013 -- Fed Cup, first round, United States at Italy, www.fedcup.com.
Feb. 11-17, 2013 -- SAP Open, HP Pavilion in San Jose, www.sapopentennis.com. 2012 champions: Milos Raonic, Mark Knowles-Xavier Malisse.
March 4-17, 2013 -- BNP Paribas Open, Indian Wells, Calif., www.bnpparibasopen.com. 2012 champions: Roger Federer, Victoria Azarenka, Marc Lopez-Rafael Nadal, Liezel Huber-Lisa Raymond.
April 26-28 -- Big Sky Conference men's and women's tournament, Gold River Racquet Club, Gold River, Calif., www.bigskyconf.com.