ATLANTA — The stadium looks like it’s been there for years, with folding seats and flags and sky boxes and all the accoutrements that go with a big-time tennis tournament in the summer hard-court season. But most fans who show up for the BB&T Atlanta Open July 20-28 at Atlantic Station will likely have no idea that the 4,207 seats — 3,728 on Center Court and 479 divided among two others — and all the associated infrastructure are being used in the United States for the first time.
The entire complex is an engineering marvel that is making its U.S. debut in Atlanta. A vacant lot near the mixed-use commercial complex has been transformed from a flat slap into a championship venue that looks as permanent as anything on the circuit in just under three weeks. A block from a 16-theater multiplex and just a few feet from some of Atlanta’s best restaurants and boutiques, the venue is unique on the ATP tour, especially during the US Open Series where qualifying points are earned toward the season’s final major. Most championships are played at tennis clubs, not within a misplaced lob shot of a steakhouse.
Tennis fans should enjoy the setting while they can, because the entire thing will come down immediately after a champion in crowned on Sunday, July 28. In the meantime, qualifying for four of the 28 main singles spots begins on Saturday, July 20, with the first round of singles and doubles beginning on Monday July 22.
Article continues below ...
Scheduled participants include former US Open and Wimbledon champion Lleyton Hewitt, former American No. 1 James Blake, hard court specialist Mardy Fish and former University of Georgia star John Isner.
The doubles matches are expected to draw some of the largest crowds as the world’s No. 1 team, twin brothers Mike and Bob Bryan are slated to play against a number of other sibling pairings including Blake and his brother, Thomas. In an event organizers are billing as the “Bro Down Showdown,” Ryan Harrison is playing with his brother Christian, and Jack Sock is also teaming up with his brother Eric.
The tournament is expected to be a sellout, and sponsors seem to be flocking to associate themselves with the event and the series. Lexus has signed an agreement to be the official tournament vehicle through 2015 while Emirates Airlines continues to provide title sponsorship of the entire US Open Series.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to be part of (the Atlanta Open),” said Tim Bliss, general manager of Lexus Southern. “It is going to be a great event and we look forward to seeing everyone there.”