Scouting Report: 20 Things To Watch In Lyon & Geneva
ATP 250 titles are on the line this week at clay-court events in Lyon and Geneva. At the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon, Nikoloz Basilashvili and Roberto Bautista Agut are the top two seeds, while 2017 titlist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and #NextGenATP Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime will also go for the trophy.Lyon | Geneva
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN LYON
1) Terrific Tsonga: Tsonga won the 2017 edition of the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon, beating Basilashvili and Tomas Berdych in the final two rounds. Tsonga ended an injury-plagued 2018 ranked No. 259 but is back in the Top 100 after a 14-7 start to 2019, which includes winning his 17th ATP Tour singles title at Montpellier.
2) Top Seed: Basilashvili made the final four at Lyon in 2017 ranked No. 71, before losing to Tsonga. The Georgian did not play at Lyon in 2018, but since then, he has been on the rise, winning his first two titles at Beijing and Hamburg last year and hitting a career-high ATP Ranking of No. 17 on 1 April.
3) Stellar Spaniard: Second seed Bautista Agut has notched numerous milestones in 2019. He won a title in January for the fourth straight season, earning his ninth ATP Tour singles trophy in Doha. The Spaniard beat World No. 1 Novak Djokovic en route to the Doha crown, and defeated Djokovic again in Miami. Bautista Agut also reached his first Grand Slam quarter-final at the Australian Open.
4) Dynamite Denis: Third seed Shapovalov made his third ATP Masters 1000 semi-final in Miami before he turned 20 on 15 April, making him one of five players who are tied for the second-most ATP Masters 1000 semi-finals as a teenager (Rafael Nadal stands alone in first place with eight). He also cracked the Top 20 in the ATP Rankings for the first time two weeks before his 20th birthday.
5) Fantastic Felix: Auger-Aliassime is seeded just one place behind Shapovalov, and the 18-year-old, who ended last year ranked No. 109, has rocketed up the ATP Rankings this year to join his friend and compatriot in the Top 30. Auger-Aliassime’s own run to the Miami semi-finals made him the third-youngest Masters 1000 semi-finalist – just behind Shapovalov’s 2017 Montreal semi-final run.
6) Wild Ones: Shapovalov, Richard Gasquet, and Corentin Moutet received the wild cards this week. Gasquet is playing just his third event since 31 October 2018, having missed the first four months of 2019 due to groin surgery.
7) First Time for Everything: There have been eight first-time ATP Tour singles titlists so far this year, and one of the eight is in the Lyon draw: Reilly Opelka, who hit 43 aces in both his semi-final and final victories en route to his first title at the New York Open in February.
8) Serbian Surprise: Fifth seed Dusan Lajovic was 0-4 in ATP Tour semi-finals entering the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, but the Serbian raced to that final without dropping a set before losing to Fabio Fognini. Ranked No. 48 at the time, he became the lowest-ranked Monte-Carlo finalist since 2001.
9) Doubling Up: Last year’s Wimbledon finalists Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus, who reached the Rome final, form the top-seeded doubles team in Lyon. Klaasen and Venus are looking for their first ATP Tour doubles title since their last triumph in France – when they claimed the Marseille trophy in February 2018.
10) Sinner Shining: Seventeen-year-old Italian Jannik Sinner moved through qualifying in Lyon to qualify for the main draw of an ATP Tour event for the second time, having also done so at the Hungarian Open. The teenager won his first Masters 1000 match at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, ousting Steve Johnson.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN GENEVA
1) Top of the Heap: Top seed Zverev comes into Geneva seeking his first title of the season. The German’s best result of the season came in Acapulco, where he made the final. Zverev has been ranked inside the Top 5 of the ATP Rankings each week since 11 September 2017.
2) Stan the Man: Since Geneva returned to the ATP Tour calendar in 2015, Wawrinka has appeared at every edition of the event, and has advanced to at least the quarter-finals each time. Former World No. 3 Wawrinka is 10-2 at the tournament, notching consecutive titles in 2016 and 2017.
3) The Champ Returns: Fucsovics came into his Geneva debut in 2018 with no ATP Tour semi-finals to his name, but garnered his first ATP Tour semi-final, final, and title all in one fell swoop. Fucsovics, who beat two-time defending champion Wawrinka in last year’s quarter-finals, became the first Hungarian to win an ATP Tour singles title since Balazs Taroczy at 1982 Hilversum.
4) Going Wild: Wawrinka joins Feliciano Lopez and Janko Tipsarevic as wild cards. Former World No. 8 Tipsarevic reached the second round at Geneva in 2017, but retired during that match. The Serb missed the entirety of 2018 due to injury, but has already earned three tour-level wins this year.
5) Chilean Champion: Only five players have won multiple ATP Tour singles titles this year, and 22-year-old Cristian Garin is one of them. The Chilean claimed his first title in Houston in April, saving five match points in his second-round win over Jeremy Chardy. Three weeks later, in Munich, Garin saved two match points in a quarter-final victory over Zverev en route to his second title.
6) Grigor The Qualifier: With no additional main draw wild cards available, 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov accepted a wild card into qualifying, and won two matches to reach the main draw. It was the Bulgarian’s first qualifying appearance since the 2012 Rolex Paris Masters.
7) Title Time: There have been eight first-time ATP Tour singles titlists so far this year, and three of them are in the Geneva draw, including Houston and Munich champion Garin. Fifth seed Radu Albot earned his first title at Delray Beach, becoming the first player Moldovan to win a title. Juan Ignacio Londero, who won his first title on home soil in Cordoba, is also competing in Geneva.
8) Solid Seeds: Sixth seed Adrian Mannarino, seventh seed Matthew Ebden, and eighth seed Andreas Seppi round out the seeded players. Seppi started the season strongly, beating Top 20 players Stefanos Tsitsipas and Diego Schwartzman en route to his first final since 2015 in Sydney.
9) Former Finalists: Three players who have finished as Geneva runners-up in the past four years return to the event: 2015 finalist Joao Sousa, 2017 runner-up Mischa Zverev, and last year’s finalist Peter Gojowczyk.
10) Doubles Duty: Top seeds Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic have returned to the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open to try to defend their 2018 title. That crown is the most recent title they won together, and one of the four titles they won as a team in 2018, which includes the Australian Open.