Scouting Report: 15 Things To Watch In Cordoba, Montpellier & Singapore
The ATP Tour departs from Melbourne after a thrilling Australian summer of tennis as a trio of ATP 250 tournaments kick off across three different continents and two different surfaces. Argentina will host a clay-court event, the Cordoba Open, and there will be two indoor hard-court events: the Open Sud de France in Montpellier and the Singapore Tennis Open.
Diego Schwartzman will try to win on home soil in Cordoba, where he reached the final a year ago. Former World No. 1 Andy Murray will make his first tour-level appearance since last October at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. Held on a single-year licence, the Singapore Tennis Open will feature Marin Cilic as the former US Open champion eyes a ninth indoor hard-court title.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN CORDOBA
1) Déjà Vu For Diego: Cordoba Open top seed Schwartzman could face some familiar names as he returns to Argentina seeking his first title on home soil. The three-time ATP Tour titlist saw five of his countrymen land on his half of the draw. Schwartzman could also face fifth seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas in a rematch of their 2020 Cordoba quarter-final, in which Schwartzman claimed his fifth consecutive victory in their ATP Head2Head record.
2) Flying The Flag: White and sky blue are two colors that never go out of fashion in Argentina, and the nation’s emblematic flag will certainly be flying high in Cordoba with six Argentine players contesting the main draw. Eighth seed Federico Delbonis will look to add another title to their clay-court credentials, while former champion Juan Ignacio Londero returns to the site of his maiden ATP Tour title victory.
3) Paire’s Title Bid: Second seed Benoit Paire is looking to kickstart his season after going winless at the ATP Cup and Australian Open. The clay-courts of Cordoba could provide the spark he needs as he searches for his fourth ATP Tour title and his first since 2019 Lyon. All of the Frenchman’s tour-level trophies have come on clay. He will play Nicolas Jarry or Jaume Munar in his opener.
4) South American Supremacy: Cordoba has crowned back-to-back South American champions since the tournament joined the ATP Tour calendar in 2019. Argentina’s Londero triumphed in the inaugural edition while Chile’s Cristian Garin lifted the trophy last year. In doubles, at least one South American player has won the doubles title each edition. Argentina’s Andres Molteni triumphed in 2019 (with Roman Jebavy) and Brazil’s Marcelo Demoliner was victorious in 2020 (with Matwe Middelkoop).
5) Miomir’s Moment: Last year, Miomir Kecmanovic soared to a breakthrough victory at the Generali Open in Kitzbuhe. But winning his first ATP Tour trophy on clay was a surprise even for the Serbian himself, who usually prefers a faster surface. The 21-year-old will be tested in a challenging quarter of the draw, which includes seventh seed Thiago Monteiro, #NextGenATP Brazilian Thiago Seyboth Wild and Roberto Carballes Baena. Kecmanovic also announced on Instagram Saturday that he will be working with former World No. 3 David Nalbandian.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN MONTPELLIER
1) Murray Makes Montpellier Debut: Murray will compete in his first ATP Tour event since October after being awarded a wild card into Montpellier. The Brit kicked off his season last week at the Biella Challenger Indoor 1, where he reached his first final at any level since 2019. Murray will take on Egor Gerasimov in his opening match, and he could meet Jannik Sinner in the second round. The former World No. 1 will try to win his third tour-level title in France.
2) Sinner Recharged: #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner made an inspired effort to bounce back after a rollercoaster run to the Great Ocean Road Open title. But the 19-year-old fell in five sets against Denis Shapovalov in the first round at the Australian Open. Now that he’s had time to rest, Sinner, who trained with Rafael Nadal during quarantine in Melbourne, is ready to return to his winning ways. The Italian arrives in Montpellier seeking his second indoor hard-court title (also 2020 Sofia Open).
3) The French Domination: French champions have ruled the courts in Montpellier at the Open Sud de France, lifting the trophy eight times since the event’s first edition in 2010. Lucas Pouille, the 2018 champion, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, the 2019 titlist, are in the same section of the draw as No. 2 seed David Goffin. Tsonga, who is competing for the first time since last year’s Australian Open, has an intriguing first-round match-up against Delray Beach finalist Sebastian Korda.
4) Goffin In Gear: Second seed David Goffin has tasted ATP Tour success on French soil before, and it also came on indoor hard courts as he won the 2014 Moselle Open in Metz. The Belgian is seeking his fifth tour-level title, and his first since winning Tokyo in 2017.
5) Kontinen/ERV Lead The Way: Henri Kontinen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin top the doubles field in Montpellier. This is their first year as a team after Roger-Vasselin and Jurgen Melzer qualified for last year’s Nitto ATP Finals. Singles stars competing in the doubles field at this French ATP 250 include Ugo Humbert/Tsonga and Goffin/Pouille.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN SINGAPORE
1) ATP Tour Action Returns To Singapore: Singapore’s first ATP Tour event in 22 years will be played on indoor hard courts and held on a single-year licence at the 3,000-seater OCBC Arena inside the vast Singapore Sports Hub. Singapore previously hosted an ATP tournament between 1989-1992 and 1996-1999.
2) Cilic On The Charge: Big-serving Cilic is aiming to capture his ninth ATP Tour crown on indoor hard courts and make it 19 career titles. Victory in Singapore would put him one step closer to becoming only the sixth active player to lift 20 tour-level crowns, joining Roger Federer (103), Rafael Nadal (86), Novak Djokovic (82), Andy Murray (46) and Juan Martin del Potro (22) on the elite list.
3) Fourth Time Lucky: Adrian Mannarino is the top seed in Singapore, and he will try to win his second ATP Tour title. The Frenchman has reached nine additional tour-level finals, including three indoors. The lefty will play Ernests Gulbis or Roberto Marcora in the second round.
4) Second Time: Second seed John Millman is looking to double his ATP Tour trophy count after his maiden victory last year in Nur-Sultan. The Aussie veteran is in the same half of the draw as big-serving Cilic. Millman will open his Singapore campaign against countryman Matthew Ebden or Indian Yuki Bhambri.
5) Belgians Lead The Way: The top seeds in the Singapore doubles draw are Belgians Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who have won four ATP Tour doubles titles together. The second seeds are Rohan Bopanna and Ben McLachlan, who are from India and Japan, respectively.