Today, the 2011 SAP Open begins play with five current or former top-five players in the draw. The tournament will take place from Feb. 7 through Feb. 13 at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, right here in the Bay Area. There's some exciting story lines to look forward to as the big names get set to play again following the Australian Open.
James Blake, a former top-five-ranked player, is hoping to make his comeback in his first match of 2011 after an injury-filled 2010. Now ranked No. 171 in the world, Blake takes on Jesse Levine who in the first match of interest for the tournament, the last of five that will be played on Monday.
The bigger story though, will be Gael Monfils of France, currently ranked No. 12 in the world, making his debut at the SAP Open. His opponent is a local product, Bradley Klahn of Stanford University. Klahn is playing in only his second tour-level match, but he's coming in confident against one of the more dynamic and powerful players in the game today. His inexperience means that Monfils has seen little of him playing or his playing style, and that along with the hometown advantage could be huge, he seems to think.
There are some more interesting first round matches as well. Defending champion Fernando Verdasco (ranked ninth in the world) takes on Rajeev Ram. They've played on one occasion, and Verdasco took the meeting. Folks are looking ahead to a potential matchup with the hard-serving Ivo Karlovic in the second round - a man who holds a 2-1 advantage over the top seed. Juan Martin del Potro is always looking to regain his form that he had just a short time ago when he took the tennis world by storm and won the 2009 US Open before being sidelined by a plethora of injuries. He'll be taking on Teymuraz Gabashvili of Russia.
First Round Draw
 Fernando Verdasco (ESP) - [WC] Rajeev Ram (USA)
Ryan Sweeting (USA) - Ivo Karlovic (CRO)
Michael Russell (USA) - Alex Kuznetsov (USA)
Roma Borvanov (MDA) -  Denis Istomin (UZB)
 Sam Querrey (USA) - Lukas Lacko (SVK)
Teimuraz Gabashvili (RUS) - Juan Martin Del Potro (ARG)
Brian Dabul (ARG) - Alejandro Falla (COL)
Bjorn Phau (GER) -  Lleyton Hewitt (AUS)
 Benjamin Becker (GER) - Ricardas Berankis (LTU)
Dustin Brown (GER) - Donald Young (USA)
Jesse Levine (USA) - James Blake (USA)
Milos Raonic (CAN) -  Xavier Malisse (BEL)
 Kei Nishikori (JPN) - Jan Hajek (CZE)
Robert Farah (COL) - [WC] Tim Smyczek (USA)
Robert Kendrick (USA) - Igor Kunitsyn (RUS)
[WC] Bradley Klahn (USA) -  Gael Monfils (FRA)
Play begins tonight, as stated. Tune into this stream and follow @sbnbayarea on Twitter for updates on matches and news coming out of the SAP Open. The semifinals and finals will be broadcast live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area. We'll have previews and recaps of some of the more interesting matches later in the day and throughout the week, so stay tuned.