Scouting Report: Djokovic & Medvedev Lead Adelaide Draw; Cilic In Pune
With the United Cup underway in Australia, two ATP Tour events will follow as the 2023 season opens in style across two continents. A pair of ATP 250 events are set to begin during the first week of the new year: the Adelaide International I and the Tata Open Maharashtra in Pune.
ATPTour.com looks ahead at 10 things to watch this week.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN ADELAIDE:
1) Top Seed Djokovic Returns To Australia: Back in action Down Under for the first time since he won the 2021 Australian Open, the World No. 5 leads the field in Adelaide, where he won his third ATP Tour title in 2007. The Serbian finished the 2022 season by winning a record-tying sixth Nitto ATP Finals crown, and lifted the title in four of his past five ATP Tour tournaments dating back to Wimbledon.
Djokovic has a big opportunity to rise up the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in the coming months, having played just one tour-level event in the first quarter of 2022. He enters this season with 4,820 Pepperstone ATP Rankings points, exactly 2,000 points shy of World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
2) Can Medvedev Reach The Summit Again?: After reaching the pinnacle of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in February 2022, Medvedev finished the season with two tour-level titles — but it was not enough to maintain his position as World No. 1, which he lost after failing to defend his US Open title.
Entering this season as World No. 7, Medvedev is making his Adelaide debut. He will look to get off to a strong start this year after finishing 2022 on a four-match losing streak — though that run came after he lifted the title in Vienna and included three Top 10 defeats in Turin, all in third-set tie-breaks.
3) More Turin Stars: Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev and alternate Holger Rune complete Adelaide's list of players who were involved at the 2022 Nitto ATP Finals. Auger-Aliassime followed up his Turin debut by helping lead Canada to the Davis Cup title in November as he finished the season with 60 match wins.
Rublev reached the Turin semi-finals for the first time in his third try while Rune completed a stunning rise into the Top 10 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings by beating five straight Top 10 opponents to win the Rolex Paris Masters title in his last action of 2022. Rune, the 19-year-old Dane, will be motivated to climb back into the that prestigious group after ending the season at World No. 11.
4) Former Next Gen Champs Sinner, Nakashima Feature: 2019 Next Gen ATP Finals champ Jannik Sinner and 2022 winner Brandon Nakashima are also in the Adelaide field, with both making their tournament debuts. The 21-year-old Sinner, who enters the season as World No. 15, will seek to improve upon his career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 9, first achieved in 2021. The Italian is seeking his second tour-level title in Australia after his Melbourne 1 triumph in 2021.
5) Britons Murray, Draper In Action: Two men at opposite ends of their careers will nonetheless have similar goals for this season, as both enter inside the Top 50. Murray is eager to take advantage of his clean bill of health and brings an improved fitness level into 2023, while Draper will bid to crack the Top 40 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings for the first time. The 21-year-old is currently one spot off his career-high of No. 41.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN PUNE:
1) Former Champ Cilic: Marin Cilic seeks his third title at the Indian event after back-to-back triumphs in 2009-10, when the tournament was held in Chennai. A final victory against Stan Wawrinka completed his successful title defence 13 years ago. The Croatian will be making his seventh appearance at the ATP 250, his most recent a semi-final showing in 2018.
2) Returning Finalist Ruusuvuori: Emil Ruusuvuori will be confident in his ability to improve upon his final run last year in Pune as he enters this year's event at a career-high of No. 40 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings. If he can accomplish that feat, the 23-year-old Finn would earn his first ATP Tour title.
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3) Botic Debuts: World No. 35 Botic van de Zandschulp makes his first appearance in Pune after a 2022 season which saw him reach three ATP Tour semi-finals as well as his first tour-level final in Munich. As the second-highest-ranked player in Pune's initial entry list, the 27-year-old Dutchman joins Ruusuvuori in pursuit of a first ATP Tour title.
4) Top 50 Talent: Sebastian Baez and Alex Molcan round out the Top 50 representation in Pune, with World No. 59 Aslan Karatsev and 2022 Next Gen ATP Finals competitor Chun-Hsin Tseng also set to compete.
They are joined by three Indian wild cards, including 15-year-old Manas Dhamne, who will be making his tour-level debut.
5) Van Rijthoven Looks To Build: Dutchman Tim van Rijthoven, who won his first ATP Tour title last season in 's-Hertogenbosch and followed it with a run to the Wimbledon fourth round, will look to back up his breakthrough season with more success in the new year. After having to qualify for his past two ATP Tour main-draw appearances, the World No. 114 was the second-to-last man to make the cut on the initial main-draw entry list for Pune, just ahead of World No. 115 American Michael Mmoh.