The Olympus US Open Series is a six-week, ten tournament hard court swing through North America that finishes with the US Open. Players compete for $40 millon, including a shot at bonus prize money at the US Open.
In 2010, Andy Murray and Caroline Wozniacki won the US Open Series title and in 2007, Roger Federer earned the biggest paycheck in tennis history after collecting $2.4 million for winning the US Open and the US Open Series. Kim Clijsters has also won both the US Open and the Series (2005) and left the summer season with $2.2 million, which is the largest prize total in women’s sports history.
My name is Michael Barber and I’m the owner, reporter, and editor of WTA Today based in the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area. Mel (a.k.a. Grand Slam Gal) was looking for a guest post and I’m honored that she accepted my request to submit this US Open Series preview to her loyal readers.
Now that the shameless self-promotion is over, let’s get back to the tennis preview.
Week 1 (July 18-24)
As mentioned in the first paragraph, the Atlanta Tennis Championships in Atlanta, Georgia is the first tournament in the US Open Series.
- The tournament is an ATP World Tour 250 event held at the Racquet Club of the South.
- The stadium seating capacity is 3,716 and the 2010 event attracted 41,000 tennis fans.
Mardy Fish won the Atlanta Tennis Championships in this year, beating John Isner 3-6, 7-6(6) 6-2.
Fish also won in 2010, adding his name to the trophy that includes former number one players Andy Roddick, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi (won Atlanta three times), and John McEnroe.
Week 2 (July 25-31)
Bank of the West Classic is a WTA Tour event hosted by Stanford University.
- Its claim to fame is that it’s the longest running women-only tennis tournament in the world (41st year of competition in 2011).
- Stanford University has been the host for 14 of those years and Bank of the West has been the title sponsor since 1992.
- Victoria Azarenka is the Bank of the West Classic defending singles champion and three of the four 2011 Wimbledon semifinalists (Sharapova, Azarenka, and Lisicki) will be playing this year.
Farmers Classic is an ATP World Tour event and is hosted by Los Angeles Tennis Center at UCLA.
- The tournament has been in existence for 85 years, which makes it the longest running annual professional sporting event in Los Angeles.
- The tournament has had nine different names since 1927. Sam Querrey is the defending singles champion at the Farmers Classic.
Week 3 (August 1-7)
The Legg Mason Tennis Classic is held at the William H.G. Fitzgerald Tennis Center in Rock Creek Park and has been around since July of 1969. Rock Creek Park is a division of the National Park Service.
- The inaugural tournament became one of the first open professional tennis tournaments held in the United States.
- Mardy Fish, John Isner, Lleyton Hewitt, Janko Tipsarevic, Fernando Verdasco, Nikolay Davydenko, Gael Monfils, Andy Roddick, and David Nalbandian (defending champion) are some of the top players that have received direct acceptances into the singles main draw.
The Mercury Insurance Open is a WTA Tour event held at the La Costa Resort and Spa.
- Kim Clijsters, Vera Zvonareva, and Ana Ivanovic are slated to play and the defending champion is Svetlana Kuznetsova.
- The first time the event was held in 1984 it was called the Ginny of San Diego and was won by Debbie Spence. Total prize money was only $50,000 compared to 2011 prize money of $721,000.
Week 4 (August 8-14)
Canada takes the spotlight during the fourth week of US Open Series action. Each year, Montreal and Toronto alternate hosting responsibilities for the men’s and women’s tournaments. This year the ATP World Tour edition of Rogers Cup takes place in Montreal, Quebec and the WTA Tour edition of Rogers Cup is being held in Toronto, Ontario.
- Rod Laver, Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Roger Federer and two-time defending champion Andy Murray are a sampling of past champions on the men’s side.
- Last year, Caroline Wozniacki claimed her first Rogers Cup title and joined a list of great female tennis players on the trophy, including Steffi Graf, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, and Monica Seles.
Expect all the top-tier players to be at these events starting August 8.
Week 5 (August 15-21)
The Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio at the Lindner Family Tennis Center is the lone event during Week 5 of the US Open Series. This year, the tournament has decided to combine the men’s and women’s draws into the same week. By doing so, the Western & Southern Open becomes one of only five in the world with at least an ATP Masters 1000 and WTA Premier event playing at the same venue during same week(s).
- The tournament has been around since 1899 and has been called the Cincinnati Open, the Tri-State Tennis Championships, the Western Tennis Championship, ATP Championship, and Tennis Masters Series Cincinnati just to name a few.
- Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters are Cincinnati’s defending champs.
Week 6 (August 22-28)
Week 6 marks the end of the Olympus US Open Series and it means we’re getting closer to the US Open! There are two tournaments during Week 6 and they are the Winston-Salem Open in Winston-Salem, North Carolina and the New Haven Open at Yale in New Haven, Connecticut.
Remember way back in Week 1 at Atlanta and their ATP World Tour 250 event? Well, the Winston-Salem Open, which is the last men’s tournament leading up to the US Open is another ATP World Tour 250 event and is also a first year tournament after replacing the men’s event in New Haven.
- It’s hosted by Wake Forest University at the Wake Forest Tennis Center and a small listing of players that have accepted direct entries are Bernard Tomic, Jurgen Melzer, and Nikolay Davydenko.
The women will have the courts at Yale all to themselves this year at the New Haven Open at Yale.
- World number one Caroline Wozniacki will try to win her fourth consecutive New Haven title and will be joined in the draw by Francesca Schiavone, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (let’s hope she gets her double-faults under control), and Daniela Hantuchova.
Week 7 (August 29-September 11)
I won’t spend much time talking about the US Open because most tennis fans know all about the American Grand Slam event. However, I will briefly mention that prize money at the US Open has been increased this year.
- The extra prize money makes the total purse, $23.7 million dollars
- For the 39th straight year, the United States Tennis Association will offer equal prize money to both men and women contestants.
- Rafael Nadal and Kim Clijsters are defending champions.
This concludes my preview of the Olympus US Open Series. I hope you’ve enjoyed it and look forward to hearing from you in the comments section below OR at WTA Today, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, Pro Tennis Weekly, and Kindle Blog.
Thank you for your time! –Michael Barber
Photo Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images