Scouting Report: Federer, Top 10 Stars Out In Force In Halle & London
The grass season that began with the MercedesCup in Stuttgart, gets into full swing this week with two ATP 500 events. Four Top 10 stars feature at the NOVENTI OPEN in Halle, while five-time former champion Andy Murray returns to the ATP Tour for the first time since March at the cinch Championships in London.
Before play gets underway, ATPTour.com looks at who you should follow in Halle and London.
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN HALLE
1) Can Roger Win 11th Halle Crown? Roger Federer stars at the NOVENTI OPEN, where he has captured a record 10 trophies and compiled a 68-7 match record since his debut in 2000. The Swiss superstar, who won three matches at Roland Garros against Denis Istomin, Marin Cilic and Dominik Koepfer, will be attempting to capture his 20th grass-court title. Aged 39, Federer continues his comeback from two right knee surgeries last year in just his fourth tour-level event of the 2021 season.
2) Medvedev The Top Seed: World No. 2 Daniil Medvedev, who is in the same half of the Halle draw as Alexander Zverev and Federer, hopes to capture his 11th ATP Tour crown. The Russian has reached two grass-court semi-finals at the 2017 Viking International Eastbourne (l. to Djokovic), and at the 2019 cinch Championships (l. to Simon) and has an 18-12 career record on the surface. He comes into the tournament on the back of a Roland Garros quarter-final run (l. to Tsitsipas), with a 22-6 match tally in 2021.
3) Third Time Lucky For German? Third seed Zverev has lifted 15 trophies on clay and hard courts, including in Acapulco (d. Tsitsipas) and Madrid (d. Berrettini) this season, but the German will be working hard in Halle to go one better than his final runs in 2016 (l. to F. Mayer) and 2017 (l. to Federer). Last week, the 24-year-old came close to reaching his second Grand Slam final (2020 US Open), but fell to Stefanos Tsitsipas in five sets in the Roland Garros semi-finals. Zverev is one of five Germans in the Halle draw.
4) Rublev’s Tough Opener: Fourth seed Andrey Rublev is well-known for his hard-court prowess, winning 20 of his 24 matches on the surface this year (29-9 overall), but the Russian has just competed in just six tour-level grass-court event. He hopes to improve his 4-3 record on the surface as the leading player in the bottom half of the draw, but must first beat his good friend Karen Khachanov in the first round. David Goffin and Gael Monfils also feature in the same half.
5) #NextGenATP Stars In Action: Felix Auger-Aliassime, who lost to Marin Cilic in the MercedesCup final on Sunday, and Sebastian Korda, who will be playing his first professional event on grass, feature in a strong Halle field. Auger-Aliassime also reached the 2019 Stuttgart final (l. to Berrettini).
FIVE THINGS TO WATCH IN LONDON
1) British Favourite Returns: It’s been more than three months since former World No. 1 Andy Murray last competed as a single player on the ATP Tour, shortly before the British star and his wife Kim welcomed their fourth child. But in the familiar surroundings of The Queen’s Club, where the 34-year-old has won the 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015 and 2016 cinch Championships title and compiled a 30-8 match record, Murray will once again find his feet on grass.
2) Berrettini The Top Seed: Matteo Berrettini returned from a hernia/groin injury to compile a strong European clay-court swing, which included the Serbia Open (d. Karatsev) and a Mutua Madrid Open final appearance (l. to Zverev). As the Italian switches surfaces, the Nitto ATP Finals hopeful will be looking to build upon his 21-6 match record this season, having captured one grass-court crown two years ago in Stuttgart (d. Auger-Aliassime). Should he beat fellow Italian Stefano Travaglia in The Queen’s Club first round, Murray may be a potential opponent.
3) Three Former Titlists In Field: Murray will be joined in the main draw by two other former champions, Croatian Marin Cilic and Spaniard Feliciano Lopez. Cilic, who captured his 19th ATP Tour crown on Sunday in Stuttgart (d. Auger-Aliassime), is a two-time champion, winning in 2012 and 2018. With no tournament in 2020, Lopez comes in as the defending champion, having completed the 2019 title double ranked World No. 113. The Spanish favourite beat Gilles Simon in the singles final and teamed up with Murray for the doubles crown (d. Ram/Salisbury).
4) What Can Aslan Do? Aslan Karatsev has been the breakthrough story of 2021 after his run to the Australian Open semi-finals (l. to Djokovic) in February and his first ATP Tour crown at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (l. to Harris). The Russian will contest his first tour-level grass-court tournament in London and is firmly in contention for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals in November, sitting in seventh position in the FedEx ATP Race To Turin.
5) Italians In London: #NextGenATP star Jannik Sinner, Lorenzo Sonego and Fabio Fognini join Berrettini in the cinch Championships draw. Third seed Sinner has played just one tour-level match on grass, while seventh seed Sonego clinched the 2019 Antalya Open crown (d. Kecmanovic) on the surface. Fognini’s best performance on grass came in June 2016 when he reached the Eastbourne quarter-finals (l. to Dodig).