Thiem, Djokovic Handed Tricky Draws In Loaded Vienna Field
Six members of the Top 10 in action
World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is making his first appearance in the Erste Bank Open field for 13 years, and defending champion Dominic Thiem lead the ATP 500 tournament this week, which includes 18 players in the Top 30 of the FedEx ATP Rankings.
Djokovic, who beat Stan Wawrinka for the 2007 crown, will have his work cut out if he is to capture his fifth tour-level trophy this year. The Serbian star is in the same half of the Vienna draw as Stefanos Tsitsipas, who the Serbian beat in the Roland Garros semi-finals, and Nitto ATP Finals contenders Diego Schwartzman and Denis Shapovalov.
Djokovic opens his campaign against compatriot Filip Krajinovic, a semi-finalist at the Open 13 Provence and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament (l. to Monfils both times). Schwartzman, who lost to Djokovic in the Internazionali BNL d'Italia final and reached the Roland Garros semi-finals (l. to Nadal) is a potential quarter-final opponent in Vienna.
The 33-year-old Djokovic has a 37-2 match record on the season and will be playing his first match since losing to Nadal in the Roland Garros final on 11 October.
Thiem, who beat Schwartzman in last year’s final to become the first Austrian champion since Jurgen Melzer in 2010, has been given a tricky opener against Kei Nishikori, who leads their ATP Head2Head series 3-2. The Japanese star has a 2-4 record since the resumption of the ATP Tour in August, which saw his return to competitive tennis after a 12-month absence because of a right elbow injury.
Second seed Thiem, winner of his first Grand Slam championship title at last month’s US Open (d. Zverev), could meet Stan Wawrinka in the second round. World No. 3 Thiem could then face fifth seed Andrey Rublev or wild card Jannik Sinner, who is through to his second ATP Tour semi-final at the bett1HULKS Championship in Cologne.
Rublev, who has a 34-7 match record in 2020, begins against a qualifier and could potentially face Casper Ruud or Sinner in the second round. Djokovic and Rublev will each be going for an ATP Tour-best fifth title of the season. The 22-year-old Rublev, who is up to a career-high No. 8 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, has won a pair of ATP 500 titles — Hamburg European Open (d. Tsitsipas) and St. Petersburg Open (d. Coric) — in the past month.
Fourth seed Daniil Medvedev will make his Erste Bank Open debut against Alex de Minaur and could meet Felix Auger-Aliassime in the second round. Seventh seed Gael Monfils, who opens against in-form Pablo Carreno Busta, and 2018 champion Kevin Anderson also feature in Medvedev’s quarter of the draw. One things for certain, there will be blockbuster matches aplenty in Vienna.