30 Things To Watch In Umag, Newport & Bastad
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP Tour
Following the third Grand Slam event of the year at Wimbledon, the stars of the ATP Tour move to ATP 250 events in Umag, Newport and Bastad. At the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, 2016 champion Fabio Fognini will be aiming to lift his second trophy in his 11th appearance at the event. John Isner will be bidding to win a record fourth title at the Hall of Fame Open, adding to trophies in 2011, 2012 and 2017. Cristian Garin leads the way at the Swedish Open, where he will be attempting to capture his third clay-court tour-level trophy of the year after title runs in Houston and Munich. Here are 30 things to watch from the ATP 250 events:
10 Things To Watch In Umag
1) On the Surface: The ATP Tour returns to clay and the grass-court swing concludes at ATP 250 events in Bastad, Umag, and Newport this week. At the Plava Laguna Croatia Open Umag, Croatian No. 1 Borna Coric joins the three most recent champions – 2016 winner and top seed Fabio Fognini, 2017 titlist Andrey Rublev, and defending champion Marco Cecchinato – in the field.
2) Top Fog: No. 1 seed Fognini has hit many milestones during 2019. The Italian No. 1 won the first ATP Masters 1000 title of his career in Monte-Carlo, becoming the first Italian to claim a Masters 1000 crown. That victory helped the 32-year-old make his Top 10 debut on 10 June, when he became the oldest player to break into the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings for the first time. He is now at a career-high ranking of No. 9.
3) Borna Back: Coric surpassed Marin Cilic for top-ranked Croatian status after Roland Garros, but he retired from his most recent match, a quarter-final against Pierre-Hugues Herbert at Halle, where Coric was defending champion after beating Roger Federer in the 2018 final. Coric then withdrew from Wimbledon due to an abdominal injury, but is back in action on home soil this week.
4) Serbian Sensations: Laslo Djere and Dusan Lajovic, seeded 3rd and 4th respectively, have posted career-best results in 2019. Djere is one of the 11 first-time ATP Tour singles champions this year, having beaten Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Rio de Janeiro final. Lajovic did not drop a set en route to his first ATP Tour final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, before falling to Fognini.
5) The Champ is Here: Cecchinato came into Umag last year having reached the semi-finals of Roland Garros in his most recent clay-court event. He continued his ascent by beating Guido Pella in last year’s final for his second title of 2018. A successful title defense would pull his 2019 win/loss record over .500.
6) Rublev Returns: Rublev won his sole ATP Tour singles title to date in Umag in 2017 as a lucky loser, making his first ATP Tour semi-final and final in the process. The Russian had a wrist injury this summer, forcing withdrawals from Roland Garros and Stuttgart, and owns an 8-8 tour-level record in 2019.
7) Former Glories: Rublev defeated Paolo Lorenzi in the 2017 final, and the Italian is back, as the oldest player in the field. Lorenzi could still be joined by another 37-year-old, and a former titlist to boot: 2013 Umag champion Tommy Robredo has reached Monday’s final round of qualifying.
8) Going Wild: 17-year-old Next Gen ATP Finals contender Jannik Sinner of Italy has a wild card into the event. Sinner started the year outside the Top 500 in the ATP Rankings, but is now just outside the Top 200, bolstered by an ATP Challenger Tour title at Bergamo, Italy, where he became the first Challenger titlist born in 2001 or later. Croatians Viktor Galovic and Nino Serdarusic also claimed wild cards this week.
9) Flying Frenchman: 20-year-old Corentin Moutet is another Next Gen ATP Finals contender in the mix in Umag. The new member of the Top 100 has had a strong run of late, reaching the third round of his home Grand Slam at Roland Garros, winning the Lyon Challenger, and qualifying for Wimbledon.
10) Doubling Up: Robin Haase, who won the Umag title last year with Matwe Middelkoop, is playing with Philipp Oswald to attempt to win two in a row. Fognini and Simone Bolelli, who won the 2011 Umag title together, as well as the 2015 Australian Open title, are also in the draw.
10 Things To Watch In Newport
1) On the Surface: At the Hall of Fame Open in Newport, the final grass-court event of the 2019 season, the field is led by top-ranked American and three-time titlist John Isner, alongside defending champion Steve Johnson and former winner Ivo Karlovic.
2) John Fights On: Top seed Isner boasts a 19-5 record in Newport, where he has won three of his 14 tour-level singles titles. However, he missed over three months of play dating back to March with a broken foot. Isner returned to action at Wimbledon, where he reached the semi-finals in 2018, but fell in the second round. As a result of his early exit from the All England Club, the American arrives in Newport at No. 15 in the ATP Rankings, his lowest spot since 19 March 2018.
3) The Champ Returns: Last year, Johnson won the only U.S. clay-court ATP Tour event at Houston, then earned his second title of the season at Newport, the only U.S. grass-court event. Johnson opened 2019 with three defeats and suffered a five-match losing streak from Indian Wells to Rome, but picked up two match-wins at Wimbledon before losing to Kei Nishikori in the third round.
4) 40-Love: Karlovic is 16-7 at Newport and reached the final three straight years, winning the title in 2016 after runner-up finishes in 2014 and 2015. The 40-year-old, who reached the Pune final in January, is still setting records – in his last event, he defeated Andrea Arnaboldi in the first round at Wimbledon to become the oldest match winner at the event since Ken Rosewall in 1975.
5) French Twist: Before this year, No. 2 seed Adrian Mannarino had made six ATP Tour finals, two of those on grass, but had not emerged victorious in any of them. That all changed on the lawns of ‘s-Hertogenbosch this year, where he became one of the 11 first-time singles titlists thus far in 2019. Despite his grass-court pedigree, Mannarino is yet to advance beyond the quarter-finals in Newport.
6) Aussie Rules: No. 3 seed Jordan Thompson lost to Mannarino in the ‘s-Hertogenbosch final, but it was still a breakthrough week for the Australian, who made his first ATP Tour singles final there. Thompson is 21-14 this season, a huge improvement from 2018, when he ended the year with a 1-11 tour-level record.
7) First Wins Club: Tennys Sandgren is another first-time champion on the ATP Tour in 2019, following his title run in Auckland. Thereafter, the American suffered a nine-match tour-level losing streak, before ending it in style with a fourth-round appearance at Wimbledon.
8) Ugo For It: No. 4 seed Ugo Humbert also made the fourth round of Wimbledon, defeating fellow Next Gen ATP Finals contender Felix Auger-Aliassime to reach that stage of a Grand Slam event for the first time. Humbert is now in eighth position in the ATP Race To Milan.
9) Wild Life: Isner is one of the three wild cards into the main draw, alongside Christopher Eubanks and Alastair Gray. American Eubanks is seeking his first tour-level quarter-final since Atlanta in 2017, while Great Britain’s Gray will contest his first tour-level singles match.
10) Newport Double: Jonathan Erlich and Artem Sitak will try to defend their Newport doubles title. Erlich’s second Newport title came 18 years after his first in 2000. Leander Paes is also in the draw – this is the 20th anniversary of his Newport title, which he won in 1999 alongside Wayne Arthurs.
10 Things To Watch In Bastad
1) On the Surface:In Bastad, the Swedish Open field features former champions Pablo Cuevas and Albert Ramos-Vinolas, last year’s runner-up Richard Gasquet, two-time finalist Fernando Verdasco, and top seed Cristian Garin, a two-time titlist in 2019.
2) Super Saver: No. 1 seed Garin is one of 11 players to win his first ATP Tour singles title already this season. Garin claimed his maiden crown in Houston after saving five match points in his second-round encounter against Jeremy Chardy. Garin then pulled off a similar feat less than a month later, winning his second title in Munich after saving two match points in a quarter-final clash with Alexander Zverev.
3) One Step Further: Second seed Verdasco is making his 12th appearance in Bastad and has amassed 22 match-wins at the event. The Spaniard, coming off a fourth-round showing at Wimbledon, has reached the Swedish Open final twice but is seeking his first title at the event, having fallen in championship matches to Carlos Berlocq in 2013 and Ramos-Vinolas in 2016.
4) First of Many: No. 3 seed Cuevas won the first of his six career ATP Tour singles titles in Bastad in 2014 when he was ranked No. 111 in the ATP Rankings. That victory spurred him onto a winning streak, culminating in a second career title in his very next event, as a qualifier in Umag two weeks later.
5) Back for More: Ramos-Vinolas has reached six ATP Tour singles finals in his career, including a runner-up finish at the 2017 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, but the Spaniard’s only title came when he hoisted the trophy in Bastad in 2016. If Ramos-Vinolas wants to claim a second title, he will have to go through Verdasco in the second round – the same person he beat in the 2016 Swedish Open final.
6) Richard Returns: Gasquet made the Bastad final last year, falling to Fabio Fognini, but the former World No. 7 had groin surgery on 18 January, and did not return until the Mutua Madrid Open in May. Gasquet is 7-6 since his return, with a ‘s-Hertogenbosch semi-final as his best result thus far.
7) Former Finalist: 2014 runner-up Joao Sousa is 14-20 on the season, but arrives in Bastad in form after reaching the fourth round at Wimbledon. The Portuguese, who fell in straight sets to Rafael Nadal, became the first man from his nation to reach the Round of 16 at the All England Club.
8) New Heights: Casper Ruud was a wild card last year when he reached his second career ATP Tour quarter-final at Bastad. This year, the Norwegian is the No. 7 seed, having reached his first ATP Tour final in Houston, where he lost to Garin in three sets. No. 6 seed Juan Ignacio Londero also notched his best ATP Tour result this year, winning his maiden title in Cordoba.
9) Wild Ones: The Ymer brothers, 23-year-old Elias Ymer and 20-year-old Mikael Ymer, are the only Swedes ranked inside the Top 400 of the ATP Rankings. They are two of this week’s wild cards; the third is 20-year-old Spaniard Alejandro Davidovich Fokina. All three wild cards are ranked between No. 116 and No. 128.
10) Doubles Duty: Horacio Zeballos is back to defend his doubles title, but he will pair with Federico Delbonis instead of his partner from last year, Julio Peralta. The top seeds are Roman Jebavy and Matwe Middelkoop. At Wimbledon, Middelkoop reached the mixed doubles semi-finals.