Scouting Report: The Key Things To Watch In Moscow, Antwerp & Stockholm
The ATP Tour heads exclusively indoors next week at a trio of hard-court events. Daniil Medvedev leads the field at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow, Gael Monfils is the top seed at the European Open in Antwerp, and Fabio Fognini continues his push for a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals as the No. 1 seed at the Intrum Stockholm Open.
WHAT TO WATCH IN MOSCOW
1) Russian Takeover: A Russian triumphed in Moscow each year from 2004-09, but the winner came from outside the host country the following eight years. This year, a slew of Russian stars will try to make it two in a row for their country, led by top seed Daniil Medvedev, defending champion Karen Khachanov and sixth seed Andrey Rublev.
2) Medvedev’s Finals Streak: Daniil Medvedev on Saturday reached his sixth consecutive tour-level final in Shanghai. He will go for seven in a row in Moscow, looking to join the Big Four — Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray — as the only active players to make seven straight tour-level championship matches.
3) Dynamic Moscow Duo: Khachanov, the second seed, has spent time working with former World No. 3 Nikolay Davydenko this year. They have combined to win four Moscow singles trophies and Davydenko earned the doubles crown in 2004 alongside countryman Igor Andreev.
4) Marin’s Pursuit Of No. 500: Marin Cilic, a two-time Moscow champion, is one victory from his 500th at tour-level. The Croat, seeded third, will try to accomplish the feat against 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic or Slovenian Aljaz Bedene. Cilic is trying to become the 10th active player to reach the milestone.
5) Former Champs: Outside of Cilic and Khachanov, the other former Moscow champions competing in the Russian capital are Andreas Seppi (2012) and Damir Dzumhur (2017). Seppi begins his tournament against fifth seed Cristian Garin, while Dzumhur is attempting to advance through the qualifying draw.
6) Mektic/Skugor Top Seeds: Croatians Nikola Mektic and Franko Skugor are the top seeds in the doubles draw. The reigning Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champions found good form in Tokyo last week, reaching the final. The second seeds are Brits Jamie Murray and Neal Skupski, who have advanced to the semi-finals in five consecutive tour-level events together.
WHAT TO WATCH IN ANTWERP
1) Murray Making Moves: After winning four matches during his Asian Swing, former World No. 1 looks to continue his return to form on the indoor hard courts of Antwerp. This will be the Scot’s eighth tour-level event of the season as he recovers from post-Australian Open hip surgery.
2) Wawrinka The WC: Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka headlines the wild card selections at this ATP 250 event, where the Swiss will make his debut. Wawrinka is pursuing his first ATP Tour title since 2017 Geneva. Belgian Kimmer Coppejans and #NextGenATP Italian Jannik Sinner are the other two wild cards.
3) La Monf & Three Former Champs: Gael Monfils leads the field as he tries to win multiple ATP Tour titles in a season for the first time in his career. Two of the three players who have lifted the European Open trophy are in the main draw. Defending champion Kyle Edmund won his maiden ATP Tour title in Antwerp last year, but lost in qualifying. This year’s Montpellier and Metz winner Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was victorious in 2017 and his fellow Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, won the first edition in 2016.
4) The #NextGenATP Charge: There are three #NextGenATP stars in the field: Sinner, 2018 Delray Beach champion Frances Tiafoe and Frenchman Ugo Humbert.
5) Goffin Leads The Home Hopes: Belgian No. 1 David Goffin has competed in Antwerp twice, making the semi-finals and quarter-finals in 2016 and 2017, respectively. But with momentum on the side, the home favourite will hope to lift the title this week after reaching his first ATP Masters 1000 final in Cincinnati as well as the Tokyo semi-finals. Goffin is in 10th place in the ATP Race To London.
6) Slam Champs & London Hopefuls In Doubles: Roland Garros titlists Kevin Krawietz and Andreas Mies, who also made the US Open semi-finals, are the top doubles seeds in Antwerp. The fifth-placed team in the ATP Doubles Race To London is trying to move closer to qualification for the Nitto ATP Finals, as is eighth-placed duo Rajeev Ram/Joe Salisbury (points after Shanghai). Ram and Salisbury are pursuing a London berth in their first year as a pair.
WHAT TO WATCH IN STOCKHOLM
1) Fabio’s Push: Fabio Fognini became the third Italian man to crack the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings earlier this year, as well as the oldest player to break into the elite group for the first time since 1973. But now the 32-year-old has his sights set on a maiden berth into the singles field at the Nitto ATP Finals. He will enter his event in 11th place in the ATP Race To London.
2)Grigor Going For Glory: Grigor Dimitrov won his first ATP Tour title in Stockholm in 2013, and he accepted a wild card into the tournament this year. The Bulgarian has also made two additional finals at the event, and he looks to maintain the momentum from his season-changing run at the US Open, where he reached the semi-finals. Dimitrov can earn his 300th tour-level win against Sam Querrey or a qualifier in the second round.
3) Shapo Show: #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov will try to reach his first ATP Tour final and lift his maiden trophy this week in Stockholm. The fourth seed has made the semi-finals in two of his past five tournaments (Winston-Salem, Chengdu).
4) American Charge: Third seed Taylor Fritz and sixth seed Reilly Opelka, close friends who will also play doubles together in Stockholm, will try to make their mark at this indoor tournament. Fritz, who triumphed in Eastbourne earlier this year, will face Radu Albot or Yoshihito Nishioka in his opener. Opelka, the reigning New York Open champion, will face Italian Stefano Travaglia.
5) Ymer Brothers Fly Swedish Flag: Two of the three wild cards went to brothers: Elias Ymer and Mikael Ymer. Both siblings have made the second round in Stockholm previously. Mikael is at a career-high of No. 81 in the ATP Rankings, while older brother Elias, World No. 122, is trying to crack the Top 100 for the first time
6) The Doubles Race Is On: Two contending teams in the ATP Doubles Race To Milan are the first and second seeds, respectively, in Stockholm. Top seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau, the 2015 Nitto ATP Finals winners, are currently in sixth place (with Shanghai points included), and second seeds Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek will try to continue their charge, currently in ninth place in the Doubles Race.
Editor's Note: This story, originally published on 12 October, was updated on 13 October to reflect that Kyle Edmund lost in Antwerp qualifying