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Harrison, Nalbandian receive wildcards

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Tournament director Bill Oakes announced on Friday morning that Ryan Harrison and David Nalbandian have joined the Winston-Salem Open field as the final wildcards.

Harrison, 20, is generally regarded as the next rising American star. He currently is ranked No. 58 in the ATP World Tour rankings, after starting the year at No. 79. Harrison has been as high as No. 43 in July.

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“Ryan is an exciting young player with a world of talent,” Oakes said. “Just as Winston-Salem tennis fans saw Andy Roddick and James Blake grow up before their very eyes when they played here in previous tournaments, we’re fortunate to be able to watch Ryan’s career unfold at the Winston-Salem Open.”

Harrison also came to the Winston-Salem Open last year as a wildcard. He beat Victor Hanescu in the first round but lost to Pierre-Ludovic Duclos in the second round.

Harrison, a native of Shreveport, La., burst onto the scene at age 15 when he competed in the 2007 U.S. Clay Courts Championships in Houston. He beat Pablo Cuevas in the first round, making him one of only 10 players in tennis history to win an ATP World Tour match before his 16th birthday and the first since Rafael Nadal.

This year, he has reached the semifinals of three tournaments - San Jose, Eastbourne and Newport. He also won a match for the U.S. Davis Cup team in its first-round upset victory over Switzerland.

While Harrison is still looking for his first ATP World Tour singles title, he owns two doubles crowns. He teamed with Matthew Ebden to win at Atlanta earlier this summer and also won with Ebden at Newport last year.

Nalbandian, currently ranked No. 39 in the latest ATP rankings, replaces Gael Monfils, who initially took a wildcard but was forced to pull out on Thursday because of lingering knee problems. Nalbandian gives the tournament 24 players who are currently in the Top 50.

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“We are very pleased to have David join what was already an outstanding field,” Oakes said. “David has been a Top Ten player for two extended periods in his career, and he has had some outstanding tournaments this year. He’s always a fun player to watch.”

The 30-year-old Argentine and 2002 Wimbledon runner-up reached as high as World No. 3 in 2006. He’s an all-court player who is considered to have one of the best returns of serve on the ATP World Tour.

He owns 11 career ATP World Tour singles titles, including two Masters series events, and has reached the finals of 12 other tournaments. Nalbandian’s first wins came in 2002 at Basel and Estoril, and his most recent title came in 2010 in Washington. He has reached the semifinals of all four Grand Slam tournaments at various points in his career.

Nalbandian reached the finals at London Queens Club earlier this year before losing to Marin Cilic in the finals. He also has reached the semifinals in Buenos Aires and Belgrade. His most-impressive performance, though, may have been in reaching the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, as he beat Cilic, Janko Tipsarevic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in succession before losing to Rafael Nadal.

Nalbandian and Harrison join James Blake and No. 7 Tomas Berdych as the tournament’s wildcard entries.

The Winston-Salem Open begins with qualifying on Saturday at the Wake Forest Tennis Center, with the 48-player Main Draw to start on Sunday.

Tickets to the Winston-Salem Open are available online at www.winstonsalemopen.com, by calling (336) 758-6409 or in person at the Wake Forest ticket office located at Bridger Field House at BB&T Field.

About the Winston-Salem Open

The Winston-Salem Open, an ATP World Tour 250 event with a total purse of $625,000, will take place from August 18-25, 2012, with qualifying set for August 18. The tournament will be the final men’s event of the Emirates Airline US Open Series. For more information on the 2012 Winston-Salem Open, please go to www.winstonsalemopen.com.

About the Emirates Airline US Open Series

Now in its ninth season, the Emirates Airline US Open Series continues to serve as a true regular season of hard court tennis, linking 10 summer tournaments to the US Open. Fans follow the action throughout the summer during national broadcast coverage while players battle for $40 million, including a chance for bonus prize money at the US Open. The Series collectively reached a U.S. television audience of 39 million and drew more than 800,000 on-site fans in 2011. In 2012, Emirates Airline became the title sponsor of the Series, as well as the official airline of the US Open. The Emirates Airline US Open Series is also supported by sponsors American Express, Chase, Citizen Watch Company, Esurance, Evian and Gatorade.

Americans Mardy Fish and Serena Williams swept the 2011 Emirates Airline US Open Series men’s and women’s titles. In 2007, Roger Federer collected the biggest paycheck in tennis history - $2.4 million - for winning the US Open and the Emirates Airline US Open Series. In 2005, Kim Clijsters also captured both the US Open and the Series, winning $2.2 million - the largest purse in women’s sports history - and equaled that amount in 2010, winning the US Open and finishing the Emirates Airline US Open Series in second place.

 

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