20 Things To Watch In Eastbourne & Antalya
Pella, Paire headline grass-court ATP 250 tournaments
10 Things To Watch In Eastbourne
1) Grass 250s: The last stops on the road to Wimbledon are on the lawns of Eastbourne and Antalya. At the Nature Valley International, Guido Pella and Laslo Djere are the top two seeds, and they are joined by two-time champion and last week’s Queen’s Club titlist Feliciano Lopez, Queen’s Club runner-up Gilles Simon, 2016 champion Steve Johnson, and British No. 1 Kyle Edmund.
2) Feliciano Flying: As a 113th-ranked wild card, Lopez defeated Gilles Simon to capture his seventh ATP Tour singles title at The Queen's Club, before lifting the doubles trophy with Andy Murray. Lopez is the first man to double up at the ATP 500 grass-court event since Mark Philippoussis in 1997. He is rewarded with a special exempt spot in the Eastbourne main draw, and soars 60 spots in the ATP Rankings to No. 53.
3) Pella Power: After losing his first four finals, top seed Pella claimed his first ATP Tour singles title in March at the Brasil Open. The breakthrough was part of a stellar clay-court season for Pella, who is tied with Rafael Nadal for the most clay-court wins this year (21).
4) Djere’s Here: Second seed Djere, like Pella, also picked up his maiden ATP Tour singles title this year during the 'Golden Swing' in Latin America. In his first tour-level championship match, in Rio de Janeiro, Djere defeated #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime in straight sets.
5) First Wins Club: Pella and Djere are two of the nine first-time singles champions so far this year. Three of the remaining seven maiden trophy winners are also in the Eastbourne main draw: Radu Albot (Delray Beach), Reilly Opelka (New York) and Tennys Sandgren (Auckland).
6) Going Wild: Top-ranked Brit Edmund picked up a wild card to play his second event of the year on home soil. Two of his countrymen also got wild cards: #NextGenATP talent Jay Clarke, and Daniel Evans, who has already claimed two ATP Challenger Tour crowns on grass this month (Surbiton, Nottingham).
7) Home Team: Three more British players are in the field: British No. 2 Cameron Norrie, who reached the ASB Classic final in January, James Ward, who has qualified for two ATP Tour main draws in a two-week span, and Paul Jubb, the NCAA singles champion from the University of South Carolina.
8) Grass Glory: Johnson joins Lopez as a former champions in the field, although Johnson’s 2016 title run came when the event was played in Nottingham. Former Nature Valley International finalists who are in this week’s draw include Fernando Verdasco, Sam Querrey, Pablo Cuevas and Simon; who fell to Lopez, as he did at The Queen’s Club on Sunday, in the 2013 championship match.
9) More Murray: After returning to tour-level action for the first time since the Australian Open in January, in his first doubles event in over two years, Murray won earned his first doubles title since 2011 with Lopez at The Queen's Club. Murray will team up with Marcelo Melo in the Eastbourne doubles draw – and just like last week, Murray will face top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah in the opening round.
10) Doubles Duty: The two all-British teams who contested last year’s final join Murray in the doubles field: defending champions Luke Bambridge and Jonny O’Mara and finalists Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski. Fifty per cent of the top half of the doubles draw is British, including all five of those players.
10 Things To Watch In Antalya
2) Paire Flair: Paire came into 2019 with one ATP Tour singles title to his name, but he has already hoisted trophies at clay-court events in Marrakech and Lyon this season, and is one of just eight players to have won multiple singles titles this year. Paire will now try to translate that success to grass, after losing his opening grass-court match of the year to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in Halle last week.
3) The Champ Returns: Dzumhur downed Mannarino in last year’s final, giving the Bosnian his third career ATP Tour singles title. Dzumhur was 13-17 last year coming into Antalya, but he pulled himself up to a 50 per cent success rate for the season and a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 23, after clinching the title. This year, the World No. 62 enters the draw with a 5-10 record in 2019.
4) Lucky Number Seven: Mannarino experienced a long-awaited career highlight at the Libema Open this month, when he claimed his first ATP Tour singles title at 's-Hertogenbosch in his seventh tour-level championship match. Two of those his final losses came in the first two editions of the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya. Mannarino owns 48 career wins on grass, which is the 10th-most of players ranked inside the Top 100 of the ATP Rankings.
5) Viva Italia: Andreas Seppi has the ninth-most grass-court match-wins of the current Top 100 ranked players with 58 career victories on the surface. The 35-year-old had been the most recent Italian grass-court titlist on the ATP Tour (2011 Eastbourne) until Matteo Berrettini triumphed at the MercedesCup earlier this month.
6) Aussie Rules: Third seed Jordan Thompson lost to Mannarino in the 's-Hertogenbosch final, but it was still a breakthrough week for the Australian after reaching his first ATP Tour singles final. Thompson owns a 19-12 record this season, a huge improvement from 2018, where he claimed one victory from 12 tour-level encounters.
7) Going for Grass Glory: No. 4 seed Pablo Carreno Busta is one of three former Top 10 players in the draw. The former World No. 10 is seeking his first victory on grass – he is 0-6 on the surface in his career, including four first-round losses at Wimbledon.
8) Perfect 10: Alongside Carreno Busta, fellow former Top 10 players Janko Tipsarevic and Ernests Gulbis are also in the field. Tipsarevic, who reached No. 8 in 2012, missed the entirety of 2018, returned from two hamstring surgeries at the 2019 Australian Open and made his first tour-level quarter-final since 2016 in Houston. Gulbis hit his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 10 in 2014.
9) Wild Ones: Three Turkish players received the main-draw wild cards: 23-year-old Cem Ilkel, 22-year-old Altug Celikbilek, and 20-year-old Ergi Kirkin. All three are seeking their first victory in an ATP Tour main draw; for Kirkin, this will mark his tour-level debut.
10) Doubling Up: Last year’s champions Marcelo Demoliner and Santiago Gonzalez are back in Antalya – but not paired together. Demoliner and partner Divij Sharan are seeded second, while Gonzalez is third-seeded alongside one of the 2017 Antalya champions, Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. Reigning Roland Garros champions Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies are the No. 1 seeds.