Scouting Report: Sinner Top Seed In Antwerp, Rublev Leads Russians In Moscow
The ATP Tour moves to Europe this week, where there will be two ATP 250 events on indoor hard courts. Jannik Sinner leads the way as the top seed at the European Open in Antwerp, and Andrey Rublev will try to retain his trophy in Moscow at the VTB Kremlin Cup.
ATPTour.com looks at five things to watch at each tournament.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN ANTWERP
1) Sinner’s Turin Push: Washington champion Sinner is still in contention for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin. The Italian trails ninth-placed Hubert Hurkacz, who currently sits in the last qualifying position [Rafael Nadal, eighth in the Race, will not compete in Turin due to a foot injury] by 360 points.
2) De Minaur & Schwartzman Chasing Title: Australian Alex de Minaur enjoyed a run to the championship match in Antwerp in 2020 and will look to go one step better this year and capture his third tour-level title of the season. Seeded sixth, he faces a qualifier in the first round.
Argentine Schwartzman, who reached the final at the ATP 250 event in 2016 and 2017, arrives in form after advancing to the quarter-finals in San Diego and Indian Wells.
3) Murray Accepts Wild Card: Former World No. 1 Murray will compete in Antwerp, where he went on a magical run to the title in 2019, overcoming Stan Wawrinka for the trophy. The 34-year-old arrives at the European Open off the back of advancing to the third round in Indian Wells, where he beat #NextGenATP Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz. The Scot will play American Frances Tiafoe in the first round, with Schwartzman looming in the second round.
4) Bergs Is Back: Last year in Antwerp, Zizou Bergs made his mark as the World No. 528, stunning Spaniard Albert Ramos-Vinolas before pushing Karen Khachanov deep into a third set in the second round before falling short. Bergs, now inside the Top 200, is back at the ATP 250 as he tries for another big showing on home soil. The Belgian, who is a wild card alongside Murray and Richard Gasquet, opens against seventh seed Lloyd Harris.
5) Malisse Returns With Pupil: Xavier Malisse, the 41-year-old Belgian who cracked the world’s Top 25 in singles and doubles, will compete for the first time in more than five years this week. The 2004 Roland Garros doubles champion (w/Rochus) will play doubles alongside the player he coaches, Harris. This will be Malisse’s first appearance at any level since the Meerbusch ATP Challenger Tour event in 2016. The top seeds in the doubles draw are Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo, who made the Indian Wells semi-finals.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN MOSCOW
1) Former Champions In Action: World No. 5 Rublev is the reigning champion in Moscow and returns to defend his title as he aims to win his second tour-level trophy of the season. Croatian Marin Cilic, who captured the crown in 2014 and 2015, 2017 winner Damir Dzumhur and 2018 titlist Karen Khachanov are also in the field.
2) Home Hopes: Rublev, Tokyo Olympics silver medallist Khachanov and 2021 breakthrough star Aslan Karatsev are the leading Russian hopes in Moscow. Karatsev and Rublev will take confidence into their home tournament after reaching the doubles final at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. Rublev and Khachanov are former singles champions in Moscow, while Karatsev will compete at the event without having to go through qualifying for the first time. This year’s Australian Open semi-finalist is 1-4 at the ATP 250.
3) Bublik Rising: Alexander Bublik has enjoyed the best season of his career, reaching a career-high World No. 34 in September. The Kazakshtani has reached ATP Tour finals this season in Antalya and Singapore. The fifth seed will try to earn his first tour-level crown in Moscow, where he made the quarter-finals as a qualifier in 2016 and 2017.
4) Russian Wild Cards: The three singles wild cards were awarded to Russians, headlined by the country’s ATP Cup captain, Evgeny Donskoy. The 31-year-old made the semi-finals here in 2015. Roman Safiullin and Alibek Kachmazov also received wild cards, and they will play Frenchman Adrian Mannarino and Argentine Federico Coria, respectively.
5) Klaasen/McLachlan Top Seeds: The top seeds in the doubles draw are Raven Klaasen and Ben McLachlan, who won the Washington title together earlier this year. Although Karatsev and Rublev made the final as a team in Indian Wells, Karatsev will pair with countryman Richard Muzaev and Rublev will play alongside Khachanov. The second seeds are Andrey Golubev and Hugo Nys.