The Sony Ericsson Open has announced the wildcard entrants for this year’s tournament. American James Blake and Russian Dinara Safina highlight the list of wildcard players that will be playing at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami. On the men’s side of the draw the other wildcards include Americans Jack Sock and Ryan Harrison, Canadian Milos Raonic, and Bernard Tomic from Australia. Joining Safina on the women’s side of the draw are Heather Watson, Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki, Madison Keys, and Coco Vandeweghe. Here is the official press release from the Sony Ericsson Open tournament : BLAKE AND SAFINA HIGHLIGHT SONY ERICSSON OPEN WILDCARDS Current and rising stars are granted this year’s wildcards MIAMI, Fla. (www.sonyericssonopen.com) – The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open announced its wildcard entries and this year it features former World No. 4 James Blake and former World No. 1 Dinara Safina. A total of five wildcard slots were granted to the men’s draw and also include Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Milos Raonic, and Bernard Tomic. While six were given on the women’s side which feature Heather Watson, Sorana Cirstea, Sabine Lisicki, Madison Keys, and Coco Vandeweghe. Women’s main draw begins on Tuesday, March 22, while the men’s main draw kicks off the following day on Wednesday, March 23. The qualifying rounds will be held Monday and Tuesday, March 21 and 22. Tickets to the 2011 Sony Ericsson Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or via internet at www.sonyericssonopen.com. An electrifying two weeks of tennis conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, April 2 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 3.
Blake will make his return to Miami, hoping to improve on his career-best quarterfinal showings in 2006 and 2008. Safina made her last appearance on the purple courts in 2009 as the No. 2 seeded player advancing to the third round. She recorded her career-best finish in 2008 when she advanced to the quarterfinals. Blake, always a fan favorite, earned his first ATP win in 2002 becoming the fourth African American to win an ATP title in the Open Era. In 2005, Blake grabbed the national spotlight at the U.S. Open when he played a thrilling five-set match in the quarter finals against his idol, Andre Agassi. From there, Blake’s career blossomed tremendously as he reached his career-high of No. 4 in the world in 2006 becoming the first African American to crack the top-10 since his role model, Arthur Ashe. Safina made her professional debut in 2002. The Russian star recorded a breakout season in 2008 winning a career-best four singles titles. In 2008, she was awarded the WTA Most Improved Player, and was the first player in history to defeat three reigning World No. 1s in the same season (Justine Henin, Maria Sharapova, and Jelena Jankovic). Safina reached a career-high rank of No. 1 in the world in 2009, and joined her brother Marat Safin as the first brother-sister combo to both achieve World No. 1 rankings. In addition to Blake and Safina the tournament wildcards include many of the Tour’s next generation of tennis stars. Other men’s highlights include, Ryan Harrison who is a promising 18-year-old American who last year became the first American teenager to beat a top 20 opponent in a Grand Slam since Andy Roddick. At the 2010 U.S. Open, Harrison defeated the 15th seed Ivan Ljubicic in three sets in the first round for his first win in a Grand Slam tournament. Young Canadian tennis star, Milos Raonic, captured his first ATP World Tour title earlier this year in San Jose becoming the first from his nation to win an ATP World Tour title in 16 years. Afterwards, Raonic rose to a career-high No. 37. On the women’s side Romanian Sorana Cirstea reached a career-high rank of No. 23 in 2009 after recording a quarterfinal appearance at the French Open and advancing to the third round at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Cirstea won her first WTA Tour singles title in 2008 at Tashkent. German Sabine Lisicki has one career WTA Tour singles title to her credit having won in Charleston in 2009. That year she recorded a career-high singles ranking of 22 in the world. Lisicki will look to better her career-best fourth round finish in Miami in 2008. The addition of the wildcard entries adds to what is already a Grand Slam quality player field including defending Sony Ericsson Open champ Andy Roddick; 16-time Grand Slam Champion and three-time Sony Ericsson Open winner Roger Federer; reigning Australian Open winner Novak Djokovic; and 2009 Sony Ericsson Open champion Andy Murray. The women’s field is also loaded with the world’s best players including defending Sony Ericsson Open champion Kim Clijsters; three-time Sony Ericsson Open champion Venus Williams, current World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki; and three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova. ABOUT THE SONY ERICSSON OPEN: The 2011 Sony Ericsson Open will be played March 21-April 3 at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG and is widely regarded as the most glamorous event on the ATP and WTA Tours drawing over 300,000 guests each year including the biggest names in music, entertainment and sports. The Sony Ericsson Open is one of nine ATP World Tour Masters 1000 series events and a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA Tour, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world including defending champions Andy Roddick and Kim Clijsters. For ticket information, call (305) 442-3367 or visit the website at http://www.SonyEricssonOpen.com. ABOUT SONY ERICSSON: Sony Ericsson is a 50:50 joint venture by Sony and Ericsson established in October 2001, with global corporate functions located in London and operations in all major markets. Our vision is to become the industry leader in Communication Entertainment; where new styles of communicating through the internet and social media, become entertainment. Sony Ericsson offers exciting consumer experiences through phones, accessories, content and applications, for more information please visit: www.sonyericsson.com. Sony Ericsson is the lead sponsor of the Women’s Tennis Association, and works with the Association to promote the WTA Tour in over 80 cities during the year. For more information, please visit www.sonyericssonwtatour.com.