Scouting Report

Scouting Report: Alcaraz & Djokovic Headline Astana, Ruud Leads Tokyo Field

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week
October 02, 2022
Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud & Novak Djokovic are all in ATP 500 action this week on the ATP Tour.
Corinne Dubreuil/Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Carlos Alcaraz, Casper Ruud & Novak Djokovic are all in ATP 500 action this week on the ATP Tour. By ATP Staff

A hard-court ATP 500 double-header lights up the ATP Tour this week as Astana and Tokyo play host to some of the world’s finest players.

World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz headlines the field at the Astana Open, where Daniil Medvedev and Novak Djokovic are also competing in a stacked field at the indoor event in Kazakhstan.

Casper Ruud is the top seed outdoors at the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships, where the World No. 2 seeks his first hard-court title of the season and the first ATP 500 trophy of his career. Nick Kyrgios is also in action in Japan, where the Australian is trying to add to his 2016 victory at the tournament. looks ahead at five things to watch at each event.

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1) World No. 1 Alcaraz Returns: Alcaraz is set to compete in his first ATP Tour event since becoming the youngest World No. 1 in the history of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings with his triumph at the US Open in September.

The 19-year-old will face Sunday's Sofia finalist Holger Rune on tournament debut in Kazakhstan as the Spaniard chases his third ATP 500 crown of the season following. Earlier this year Alcaraz triumphed on clay in Rio de Janeiro and Barcelona.

2) Medvedev Pursuing Indoor Groove: Second seed Medvedev is also taking to the hard courts of Astana for the first time this week. The 26-year-old is currently fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin as he seeks to qualify for November’s season-ending Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year.

Despite falling to Stan Wawrinka in his first indoor match in 2022 in Metz 10 days ago, Medvedev can look to the fact that he has won six of his 14 tour-level titles on indoor hard courts for confidence as he prepares to take on Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the first round in Astana.


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3) Dialled-In Djokovic: Djokovic made a strong start to his indoor hard-court season in Tel Aviv, where the Serbian defeated Marin Cilic in Sunday’s final. Djokovic will now head to Astana, where he will be the fourth seed on tournament debut as he chases his first ATP 500 crown since his 2020 triumph in Dubai.

4) Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin: With Alcaraz and third seed Stefanos Tsitsipas already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, a host of top names arrive in Astana seeking to bolster their chances of reaching the season-ending showpiece, to be held in Turin from 13-20 November.

Andrey Rublev (sixth) and Felix Auger-Aliassime (seventh) both currently occupy qualification spots, while Hubert Hurkacz (ninth) could overtake both with a title run in Kazakhstan depending on their results. All three are making their Astana debuts this week.

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5) Can Top Seeds Puetz/Venus Boost Turin Hopes?: Dubai champions Tim Puetz and Michael Venus seek their second ATP 500 crown of 2022 in Astana, where a strong run will also boost their Nitto ATP Finals hopes.

The German-Kiwi pairing are currently eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings. Their rivals in Kazakhstan this week include second seeds Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic (fourth in the Doubles Teams Race), and Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos (fifth in the Doubles Teams Race). Santiago Gonzalez, who triumphed in Astana in 2021 alongside Andres Molteni, plays with Lukasz Kubot.

1) Ruud Headlines Field: Top seed Ruud arrives in Tokyo chasing his maiden ATP 500 crown. The Norwegian has excelled on hard courts in 2022, reaching finals on the surface in Miami in March and at the US Open in September. The 23-year-old will hope to maintain that form when his bid for his fourth ATP Tour title of the season begins against Jaume Munar.

2) Fritz & Tiafoe Lead American Charge: This week in Tokyo could be crucial for Taylor Fritz’s hopes of joining Ruud in qualifying for November’s Nitto ATP Finals. The 23-year-old is 10th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, but has not won a match in three previous main-draw appearances in the Japanese capital.

Fritz’s countryman, Frances Tiafoe, is seeded fourth in Tokyo, where he returns to action for the first time since he defeated Stefanos Tsitsipas to clinch the Laver Cup for Team World in London a week ago. Brandon Nakashima, Mackenzie McDonald and Steve Johnson are the other contenders looking to become the first American to triumph in Tokyo since Pete Sampras in 1996.

3) Former Champ Kyrgios: Kyrgios lifted his maiden ATP 500 crown in Tokyo in 2016 and the show-stopping Australian is seeded fifth for his first appearance at the event in four years. The 27-year-old has been in red-hot form in recent months and holds a 35-10 record for the season, which includes a title run in Washington and his maiden Grand Slam final appearance at Wimbledon.

4) Home Hope Nishioka: Yoshihito Nishioka could not have asked for a better lead-in to his home tournament. The top-ranked Japanese player in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings downed Denis Shapovalov to lift his second ATP Tour title in Seoul on Sunday. Nishioka takes on Miomir Kecmanovic in the first round as he attempts to become the first home winner in Tokyo since Kei Nishikori won the event for the second time in 2014.

5) ‘Special Ks’ Top Seeds: Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis will begin their campaign for their third tour-level doubles title of the season against the home pairing of Nishioka and Kaichi Uchida in Tokyo. The Australians are currently seventh in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings as they seek to reach the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time.

Among Kokkinakis and Kyrgios’ rivals in Tokyo this week are Wimbledon champions Matthew Ebden and Max Purcell, while two-time champion and home favourite Ben McLachlan, who won in 2017 (w/Uchiyama) and 2018 (w/Struff), partners Andre Goransson.

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