30 Things To Watch In Hamburg, Atlanta & Gstaad
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP Tour
For the second straight week, there are three events for fans to enjoy on the ATP Tour this week. Top 10 stars Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev and Fabio Fognini headline ATP 500 action at the Hamburg European Open, with ATP 250 events in Atlanta and Gstaad also taking place. Five-time champion John Isner returns to the BB&T Atlanta Open, fresh from lifting his fourth Hall of Fame Open trophy, while last year's runner-up Roberto Bautista Agut leads the way at the J. Safra Sarasin Swiss Open Gstaad. Here are 30 things to watch from the ATP Tour events:
10 Things To Watch In Hamburg
1) Summer in Swing: The European clay-court circuit continues this week with ATP Tour events in Hamburg and Gstaad, while the first hard-court event since March takes place in Atlanta. Top 10 stars Dominic Thiem, Alexander Zverev, and Fabio Fognini join defending champion Nikoloz Basilashvili as the top four seeds at the 2019 Hamburg European Open.
2) Dominant Thiem: Top seed Thiem continues to be an impressive force on clay in 2019. The Austrian beat Rafael Nadal on the surface for the fourth straight season, claiming a win over the Spaniard en route to the title in Barcelona. Thiem also reached the Roland Garros final for the second straight year, before losing to Nadal. Nine of Thiem’s 13 titles have come on clay.
3) Hometown Hero: No. 2 seed Zverev, who was born in Hamburg, is making his first appearance at the tournament since 2016. Zverev reached the Hamburg semi-finals in 2014, but lost in the opening round in the next two years. Five of his 11 titles have come on clay, including two at a different clay-court event in Germany – he triumphed in Munich in 2017 and 2018.
4) Fog Rising: Fognini has already achieved many milestones during 2019. The Italian No. 1 won the first ATP Masters 1000 title of his career in Monte-Carlo, becoming the first Italian to hoist one of those trophies. That victory helped the 32-year-old make his Top 10 debut on 10 June, becoming the oldest player to break into the Top 10 for the first time. Fognini won the Hamburg title in 2013.
5) Great Georgian: Basilashvili came into last year’s event as an 81st-ranked qualifier, but came through the field, defeating former finalist Pablo Cuevas in the second round and ousting defending champion Leonardo Mayer in the final for his maiden singles crown, and the first tour-level title for a Georgian. Basilashvili went on to win a second 2018 ATP 500 title in Beijing, and is currently ranked a career-high No. 16.
6) Return Engagements: Mayer won the 2017 title as a lucky loser, and the player who beat him in qualifying that year, Rudolf Molleker, is his first-round opponent this year. Two-time champion Mayer, Fognini, Basilashvili, and 2016 titlist Martin Klizan are the former champions in the draw.
7) Going Wild: #NextGenATP contender Molleker is one of four German wild cards in the draw, joining Zverev, Daniel Altmaier, and Yannick Hanfmann. The 18-year-old qualified for his first two Grand Slam main draws this year, at the Australian Open and Roland Garros.
8) Déjà Vu: Nicolas Jarry claimed his first ATP Tour singles title at Bastad on Sunday, but he nearly hit that mark earlier in 2019, when he held two match points in the Geneva final before falling to Zverev. Jarry had beaten Zverev earlier in the year in Barcelona; both of their meetings ended in final-set tie-breaks. They will meet for a third time this year, in the first round this week.
9) First Wins Club: Jarry is one of 13 first-time ATP Tour singles titlists this year. Other Hamburg competitors in that group include No. 6 seed Laslo Djere, who won in Rio de Janeiro, No. 8 seed Cristian Garin, who triumphed in Houston and Munich, and Cordoba titlist Juan Ignacio Londero.
10) Doubles Duty: Croats Ivan Dodig and Mate Pavic team up as the top seeds to attempt to reclaim the Hamburg doubles title they won together in 2017. Pavic also reached the final last year paired with Oliver Marach. Marach, who won the 2011 title, is seeded third with Jurgen Melzer this year.
10 Things To Watch In Atlanta
1) Isner for Six: World No. 15 John Isner is looking to notch his sixth title in Atlanta this year. Not only would it be his sixth triumph, but it would also be his third in a row. Isner achieved that feat for the first time from 2013 to 2015. The Georgia Bulldog has reached the championship match in eight of his nine tournament appearances, including every final since 2013.
2) Back to Back: After picking up his fourth Hall of Fame tournament title this weekend in Newport, Isner looks to continue his stellar form by winning his second tournament in as many weeks.
4) American Advantage: Since 2010, an American has won eight of the nine editions of the event, with four of the finals containing only Americans. This year, the 10 Americans in the main draw look to continue the trend.
5) #NextGenATP Field: Six #NextGenATP players — Alex de Minaur, Cole Gromley, Ugo Humbert, Miomir Kecmanovic, Alexei Popyrin, Frances Tiafoe — look to leave their mark, with De Minaur (6th), Kecmanovic (8th) and Tiafoe (4th) looking to solidify their spots in the ATP Race to Milan.
6) First-Time Champion Possibility: With Isner’s dominance in the last six editions of the Atlanta Open and Nick Kyrgios only playing doubles in this year’s tournament, there is a possibility that the Atlanta Open will feature a first-time winner for the first time in three years and only the fourth time in nine years.
7) Outside Looking In: For the first time since the 2012 Paris Masters, World No. 52 Grigor Dimitrov enters a tournament ranked outside of the Top 50 in the ATP Rankings. The former World No. 3 and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion will look to move up the ATP Rankings again with a successful run in Atlanta.
8) Youthful Matchup: The combined age of the first-round match between Ugo Humbert (21) and Cole Gromley (19) is 40. There are five players in the doubles draw aged over that mark: Leander Paes, 46; Jonathan Erlich, 42; Robert Lindstedt, 42; Bob Bryan, 41 and Mike Bryan, 41.
9) Odd-Year Magic: The Bryans will look to capture their third Atlanta Open doubles title. Their previous two title runs came in the two most recent odd-numbered years (2015, 2017).
10 Things To Watch In Gstaad
1) Clay Competition Continues: With the 2019 summer season in full swing, clay competition turns to Gstaad, Switzerland. Gstaad is one of three remaining clay events this year, including Hamburg this week, and Kitzbuhel next week.
2) Former Champ: 2014 champion and No. 7 seed Pablo Andujar returns to Gstaad for the first time since 2015, when he fell in the quarter-finals. So far this season, Andujar has won three Challenger events and reached the finals in Marrakech (l. to Paire).
3) Runner-up Returners: Past Gstaad finalists Roberto Bautista Agut and Fernando Verdasco enter the draw as the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds, respectively. Bautista Agut fell in the 2018 final to Matteo Berrettini, while Verdasco was beaten by countryman Marcel Granollers in 2011.
4) Homecoming Success: Wild card Sandro Ehrat of Switzerland returns to Gstaad for the first time in seven years. Gstaad was the site of his first career ATP Tour-level event, and his return here marks his second career tour-level appearance.
5) Next Gen Star: No. 8 seed and 20-year-old Corentin Moutet of France is the lone Next Gen ATP Finals contender in Gstaad. He reached the second round at Wimbledon, defeating Grigor Dimitrov in the first round before falling to #NextGenATP Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime. World No. 80 Moutet is appearing in Gstaad at a career-high ATP Ranking.
6) Career Milestone: No. 3 seed Dusan Lajovic won his maiden title in Umag, Croatia on Sunday, defeating qualifier Attila Balazs 7-5, 7-5 to rise to No. 26 in the ATP Rankings. Umag marked Lajovic's second career final, the first of which came in April at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters.
7) Veteran Status: Tommy Robredo and Paolo Lorenzi represent the two oldest men in the singles draw at 37 years of age. Gstaad marks Robredo's first tour-level main draw appearance since the 2018 US Open (l. to Tsitsipas). Lorenzi is 4-8 at tour-level this season, highlighted by his run to the New York Open quarter-finals.
8) Spanish Army: Seven Spaniards join the 2019 Gstaad singles draw, four of which make up the top eight seeds: Bautista Agut, Verdasco, Andujar and Roberto Carballes Baena. They are joined by Robredo, Jaume Munar and Albert Ramos-Vinolas.
9) Doubles Champs Unite: Former Gstaad doubles title holders Philipp Oswald (2017 w/Marach) and Filip Polasek (2011 w/Cermak; 2008 w/Levinsky) team up this year as the top seeds in Gstaad. Polasek also finished as runner-up in 2009 (w/Levinsky).
10) Finalists Return: Doubles team Denys Molchanov and Igor Zelenay return to Gstaad as the No. 2 seeds after reaching the championship match in 2018. The pairing dropped two tie-break sets to Italian duo Matteo Berrettini and Daniele Bracciali.