|Posted on July 18, 2009 at 1:18 PM|
Tournament officials announced one of the strongest player fields in its 41 year history, with their release of the entry list for the 2009 Legg Mason Tennis Classic presented by GEICO, an ATP World Tour 500 event, featuring four Top 10 and 10 Top 20 players. The field is led by defending champion and world No. 5 Juan Martin Del Potro and three-time Legg Mason Tennis Classic Champion Andy Roddick (2001, 2005 and 2007), currently ranked No. 6 in the world.
The annual summer classic returns to the William H.G. FitzGerald Tennis Center (16th and Kennedy Streets, N.W.) in Rock Creek Park from Aug. 1-9, marking Legg Mason's 16th year as title sponsor, the longest running tennis sponsorship in North America. The field includes an exciting international mix of top players (some making their Legg Mason Tennis Classic debut), such as No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA); No. 10 Fernando Gonzalez (CHI), a finalist in his last Legg Mason Tennis Classic appearance, 2003; No. 12 Robin Soderling (SWE), who shocked everyone with his upset of world No. 1 Rafael Nadal en route to the French Open final; No. 13 Marin Cilic (CRO); No. 14 Gael Monfils (FRA), a semifinalist in his only DC appearance, 2007; No. 15 Tommy Robredo (ESP); No. 17 James Blake (USA), who won his first ever ATP World Tour title here in 2002 and 2005 finalist, he last played in 2006; No. 20 Tomas Berdych (CZE), who last played here in 2005, reaching the semifinals; No. 22 Dmitry Tursunov (RUS); No. 23 Radek Stepanek (CZE); and No. 25 Mardy Fish (USA).
Other notable names in singles include: 2004 Legg Mason Tennis Classic champion Lleyton Hewitt (AUS); 2006 champion Arnaud Clement (FRA); Igor Andreev (RUS); Ivo Karlovic (CRO): and American Sam Querrey, currently ranked No. 47. The world's top-ranked doubles team of Bob and Mike Bryan, three-time Legg Mason champions, will lead the doubles field, which will be announced in July.
"The elevation to an ATP World Tour 500 event is a key factor in the strength of this year's player field," said Jeff Newman, Tournament Director. "Today's announcement shows the importance of our elevation, receiving acceptances from top players making their debut in Washington, D.C. or returning after several years. The tournament has made a major investment for the sport of tennis in the Washington, D.C. region in order to secure top player fields, which will provide tremendous value to our fans and sponsors."
The 2009 Legg Mason Tennis Classic begins a new era of professional men's tennis with the re-branding of the ATP to the ATP World Tour and the creation of a new classification of elite events called ATP World Tour 500's. The Legg Mason Tennis Classic has been elevated to this prestigious group of tournaments worldwide and is therefore recognized by the ATP World Tour as one of the top 20 men's tournaments in the world. As a member of this new classification, the tournament will more than double the prize money offered ($500,000 to $1.2M) and nearly triple the number of points offered for players. The winner of the tournament will now receive $300,000 and 500 points toward his ranking -- hence the new category name for this level of events (the 2008 Legg Mason Tennis Classic champion, Del Potro, earned $80,000 and 175 points for his victory here.
In 2005 Tomas Berdych was a semi-finalist at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic, a U.S. Open tune-up