Scouting Report: Felix Leads Florence Field, Rublev & Murray In Gijon
Florence and Gijon host indoor hard-court action this week as two strong fields compete in an ATP 250 double-header from 10-16 October.
Felix Auger-Aliassime is the top seed at the UniCredit Firenze Open as the ATP Tour returns to Florence for the first time since 1994. Matteo Berrettini and Lorenzo Musetti are among those hoping to secure a home victory in the Italian city.
ATPTour.com looks ahead at five things to watch at each event.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN FLORENCE
1) Felix To Fire In Florence?: Auger-Aliassime will eye a strong response to his first-round exit in Astana last week as the top seed in Florence. The Canadian has performed well on indoor hard courts in 2022, lifting his maiden ATP Tour crown in Rotterdam in February before reaching the final in Marseille a week later. A straight-sets win against Novak Djokovic at the Laver Cup in London two weeks ago can also give the 22-year-old confidence as he opens against Marton Fucsovics or Oscar Otte in Italy.
A good week in Florence could be key for Auger-Aliassime's hopes of qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals for the first time. The Canadian is currently eighth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
2) Berrettini Seeks Turin Boost: Berrettini spearheads the Italian charge as the ATP Tour returns to Florence for the first time since 1994. Like Auger-Aliassime, the second-seeded Berrettini can give his Nitto ATP Finals qualification hopes a welcome boost with a deep run in his homeland. The Italian holds a 29-10 record for the season, a tally which includes grass-court titles in Stuttgart and at the Queen’s Club, and he is currently 15th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin.
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3) Seeded Americans: A trio of Americans enjoying strong seasons on Tour will hope to bring their best level to the indoor hard courts in Florence. Fourth seed Maxime Cressy and eighth seed Brandon Nakashima both claimed their maiden ATP Tour titles this season, in Newport and San Diego, respectively, while sixth seed Jenson Brooksby was a finalist in Dallas and Atlanta.
4) Young Italians Look To Impress: Musetti leads a squad of four #NextGenATP Italians looking to make their mark in front of their home fans. The Hamburg champion, who has already qualified for November’s Intesa Sanpaolo Next Gen ATP Finals, is the third seed in Florence. His in-form countryman Lorenzo Sonego, the champion in Metz two weeks ago, is a potential second-round opponent.
Francesco Passaro, Giulio Zeppieri and Francesco Maestrelli are the other Italian youngsters in the Florence draw. The World No. 123 Passaro is the highest-ranked of the trio — the 21-year-old has reached five finals (winning one) on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2022 and is currently ninth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Milan.
5) Koolhof/Skupski Lead Strong Doubles FIeld: Wesley Koolhof and Neal Skupski are chasing their seventh title of 2022 in Florence, where their rivals include Astana champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic. Ivan Dodig/Austin Krajicek, and Wimbledon champions Matthew Ebden/Max Purcell, who are 12th and 13th in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings, respectively, are also seeded in Italy.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN GIJON
1) Rublev Leads Field: The 11-time tour-level titlist Rublev is the top seed as the ATP Tour visits Gijon for the first time. The 24-year-old arrives in north-west Spain in good form, having backed up his run to the quarter-finals at the US Open in September with a semi-final appearance in Astana this week.
Currently sixth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Race To Turin, Rublev will seek a strong showing in Gijon as he aims to qualify for November’s Nitto ATP Finals for the third consecutive year.
2) PCB Leads Spanish Charge: Four of the eight seeds in the Gijon draw are home favourites. Second seed Carreno Busta will look to recapture the form that earned him his maiden ATP Masters 1000 crown in Montreal in August, while third seed Bautista Agut is chasing his ninth tour-level hard-court crown — but his first indoors.
3) Murray Chases First Title Of Year: Despite reaching finals in Sydney and Stuttgart this season, former World No. 1 Murray is still seeking his first ATP Tour title since his 2019 triumph in Antwerp. The British wild card faces a tough start in Gijon, however, where he meets Davidovich Fokina in the first round. It will be the pair’s maiden ATP Head2Head meeting.
4) Thiem To Shine In Spain?: Thiem will look to build on recent signs that he is finding his best form after returning to the Tour in April following a wrist injury. A former champion on indoor hard courts in St. Petersburg and Vienna, Thiem has won his past six first-round matches at ATP Tour events. He will seek to extend that run in Gijon against the Portuguese World No. 62 Joao Sousa.
5) Doubles Teams Chase Turin Spot: Top seeds Marcel Granollers and Horacio Zeballos can consolidate their place in fifth in the Pepperstone ATP Live Doubles Teams Rankings with a strong week in Gijon. The Spanish-Argentine pair is chasing its third consecutive appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin in November.
Also seeking to boost their hopes of qualifying for the season finale with a successful trip to Spain are second seeds Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini (currently ninth in the Race), and Tokyo finalists Rafael Matos and David Vega Hernandez (currently 14th in the Race).