Scouting Report: Alcaraz & Musetti In Action In Marbella & Cagliari
Two ATP 250 events on single-year licenses will be contested this week on clay in Europe. Daniel Evans and a slew of Italians will lead the way at the Sardegna Open in Cagliari, and Pablo Carreno Busta will try to triumph on home soil at the AnyTech365 Andalucia Open In Marbella.
ATPTour.com looks at five things you should know before each event.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN CAGLIARI
1) Lorenzo Squared: Two Lorenzo’s — Lorenzo Sonego and Lorenzo Musetti — will lead Italian hopes at the Sardegna Open. Although Sonego has not received nearly as much attention as Musetti and Jannik Sinner, the 25-year-old has proven himself a tough foe on clay. He reached the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters quarter-finals in 2019 and won the Antalya title later that year.
Musetti, the youngest player in the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings, has taken the ATP Tour by storm with runs to the Acapulco semi-finals and the Miami third round. The #NextGenATP star will open against Austrian Dennis Novak.
2) Excellent Evans: Daniel Evans has proven himself one of the trickiest opponents on Tour with his all-court game, which features plenty of variety in spins and pace. Will that prove the case on the Cagliari clay? The Brit is the top seed at the ATP 250 tournament, where he will play Musetti or Novak in the second round. Earlier this season, Evans earned maiden glory at the Murray River Open in Melbourne. He also reached the doubles final last week in Miami alongside Neal Skupski.
3) American Charge: Two of the eight seeds in the singles draw are from the United States: second seed Taylor Fritz and eighth seed Tommy Paul, who are close friends. Fritz will play Andrej Martin or Jiri Vesely in his opener, as he tries to pick up on clay where he left off at Roland Garros last year. In Paris, he made the third round. Paul, who pushed Dominic Thiem to four sets at the clay-court major in 2019, will play Yannick Hanfmann.
4) Clay Stars: Other players to watch include fourth seed Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has won two ATP 500 titles on clay (both in Hamburg), seventh seed Guido Pella, 2018 Roland Garros semi-finalist Marco Cecchinato and big-hitting fifth seed Jan-Lennard Struff. Gilles Simon, who will play home favourite Stefano Travaglia, is the only former Top 10 player in the field.
5) Melo/Rojer Search For Form, Berrettini Brothers In Action: Veterans Marcelo Melo and Jean-Julien Rojer are the top seeds in the Cagliari doubles draw. They will try to find their form in Italy after losing three of their first four matches as a team. Although Matteo Berrettini is not playing singles this week, he will compete in the doubles field alongside his brother, Jacopo Berrettini.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN MARBELLA
1) PCB Title Hunting: The top seed in Marbella is Pablo Carreno Busta, whose lone clay-court title came in Estoril in 2017. The Spaniard earned two victories for his country in this year’s ATP Cup and made the third round of the Australian Open. Now Carreno Busta, who will open against a qualifier, will try to surge to his fifth ATP Tour title and his first on home soil.
2) Fabulous Fabio: Few players strike the ball as cleanly as Fabio Fognini, and the second seed will try to show some of that this week at this ATP 250. The Italian, who will start his run against Jaume Munar or a qualifier, has enjoyed success in Spain before. In 2015, Fognini upset Rafael Nadal in Barcelona. He also lifted the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters trophy in 2019.
3) #NextGenATP Stars To Watch: The #NextGenATP will try to make an impact in Marbella with wild cards Carlos Alcaraz and Holger Rune. Alcaraz continues his climb towards the Top 100 of the FedEx ATP Rankings after a strong start to the season, in which he beat World No. 14 David Goffin at the Great Ocean Road Open before making the second round of the Australian Open. The 17-year-old, who begins his tournament against a qualifier, might face 39-year-old countryman Feliciano Lopez in the second round.
4) Ruud On Clay: Casper Ruud, armed with his devastating forehand, has won 65 per cent of his tour-level matches on clay. The Norwegian, seeded third this week, will try to continue excelling on the surface in Marbella, where he will play third seed Gianluca Mager or Mikhail Kukushkin in the second round. Mager has found form at this venue, where the Italian won an ATP Challenger Tour title on Sunday.
5) Belgians The Top Seeds: The top seeds in the doubles draw are Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen. The longtime partners have won five ATP Tour titles together since the start of 2019, and they will try to add a sixth in Spain. Their first-round opponents will be home favourites David Marrero Adrian Menendez-Maceiras.