20 Things To Watch In St. Petersburg & Metz
The ATP World Tour is back in action this week at the St. Petersburg Open, where Roberto Bautista Agut is the top seed, and the Moselle Open in Metz, where Pablo Carreno Busta leads the charge and Lucas Pouille returns to defend his title.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN ST. PETERSBURG
(1) Into the Indoors: As the season changes from summer to fall, the ATP World Tour transitions from outdoor to indoor hard courts with the St. Petersburg Open and Moselle Open. One million dollars is on the line in St. Petersburg, the third-largest purse of the 40 ATP World Tour 250 events behind the season-opener in Doha ($1,237,190) and next week’s tournament in Chengdu ($1,028,885).
(2) #NextGenATP Duo: Russian Daniil Medvedev and Croat Borna Coric are among the Top 7 players in the Emirates ATP Race to Milan. But No. 8 Hyeon Chung is only 22 points behind Medvedev and 181 points behind Coric among the 21-and-unders trying to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals. Medvedev and Coric will look to gain ground on Chung this week in St. Petersburg.
(3) Milestone Year: Medvedev, 21, reached his first final at Chennai, while Coric, 20, won his first title at Marrakech. Both earned Top 10 wins at Grand Slams, with Medvedev ending Stan Wawrinka’s year at Wimbledon and Coric upsetting Race to Milan leader Alexander Zverev at the US Open.
(4) Simply the Best: Medvedev’s countryman Mikhail Youzhny returns as the winningest player in St. Petersburg Open history. Youzhny is 33-13 and making his 16th straight appearance at the tournament (2001-13, 2015-17), which did not take place in 2014. The former World No. 8 is the last Russian finalist (2010) and champion (2004), also reaching the final as a 20-year-old in 2002.
(5) Hero’s Welcome: Jo-Wilfried Tsonga makes his St. Petersburg debut as a wild card and the No. 2 seed. Tsonga swept Laslo Djere and Dusan Lajovic of Serbia this past weekend to lead France into the Davis Cup final. The 32-year-old has won titles at Rotterdam, Marseille and Lyon in 2017.
(6) Consistency is Key: No. 1 seed Roberto Bautista Agut has also captured multiple titles this year (Chennai, Winston-Salem). The 29-year-old Spaniard is 41-16 in 2017, surpassing 40 wins for the fourth straight season. Bautista Agut is up to a career-high No. 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.
(7) Trio to Watch: No. 3 seed Fabio Fognini, No. 4 seed Adrian Mannarino and No. 5 seed Philipp Kohlschreiber are in form entering St. Petersburg. Fognini won the Gstaad title on July 30 and Kohlschreiber captured the Kitzbuehel title six days later. Mannarino is 16-7 since June 26.
(8) Record-Setter: No. 6 seed Paolo Lorenzi made history at the US Open earlier this month. The 35-year-old Italian became the oldest player in the Open Era to reach the fourth round of a Grand Slam for the first time. Lorenzi is also the oldest first-time champion in ATP history (2016 Kitzbuehel).
(9) On the Rise: Lorenzi’s first-round opponent Damir Dzumhur is 22-7 overall since June 19, highlighted by his first ATP World Tour final at Winston-Salem, second semi-final at Los Cabos and seventh Challenger title at Blois, France. Dzumhur also advanced to the US Open third round.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN METZ
(1) Into the Indoors: As the season changes from summer to fall, the ATP World Tour transitions from outdoor to indoor hard courts with the Moselle Open and St. Petersburg Open. Frenchmen have won seven of the past eight Metz titles and nine of 14 overall since the inaugural event in 2003.
(2) Heroes’ Welcome: No. 3 singles seed Lucas Pouille and No. 1 doubles seeds Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut arrive in Metz from Lille, where they helped France beat Serbia in the Davis Cup semi-finals. After Pouille lost the opener, Herbert and Mahut earned the doubles win. Pouille defeated Dominic Thiem to capture his first of three ATP titles at the 2016 Moselle Open.
(3) Enemy of the State: France will host Belgium, led by No. 2 seed David Goffin, in the Davis Cup final. Goffin is 19-3 in Davis Cup singles matches, including victories over John Millman on Friday and Nick Kyrgios on Sunday. The Belgian has not won an ATP title since the 2014 Moselle Open.
(4) French Seeds: Frenchmen Richard Gasquet, Benoit Paire and Gilles Simon are seeded sixth, seventh and eighth respectively. Gasquet returned to the ATP Challenger Tour last week for the first time since 2010, capturing his ninth Challenger title in Szczecin, Poland. Simon, the 2010 and 2013 Metz champion, has not reached an ATP World Tour final since the 2015 Moselle Open.
(5) Eye on London: No. 1 seed Pablo Carreno Busta broke into the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings on September 11 after reaching the US Open semi-finals. The Spaniard is eighth in the Emirates ATP Race to London, with the Top 8 finishers assured a spot at the Nitto ATP Finals.
(6) Career Year: Also receiving a first-round bye is No. 4 seed Gilles Muller of Luxembourg. Muller reached a career-high No. 21 on July 31 after capturing his first two ATP World Tour titles at Sydney and ’s-Hertogenbosch, then upsetting two-time champion Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon.
(7) Career Year, Too: Like Muller, No. 5 seed Mischa Zverev broke into the Top 25 this season for the first time. The 2010 Moselle Open finalist reached the third round at Wimbledon, fourth round at the US Open and quarter-finals at the Australian Open, where he upset then-No. 1 Andy Murray.
(8) Veteran Presence: Three 35-year-old Frenchmen are in the field: Mahut, Julien Benneteau and Paul-Henri Mathieu. Benneteau and Mahut won the inaugural Metz doubles title in 2003, while Mathieu reached the Metz singles final in 2008. Mathieu plans to retire at the end of the season.
(9) Double the Frenchmen: Eleven Frenchmen are in the doubles draw, including the teams of Herbert/Mahut, Mathieu/Paire and Pouille/Simon. Also in the field are Benneteau and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, who lost to Herbert and Mahut in a historic All-French final at 2016 Wimbledon.
(10) Wild Cards Again: Romain Arneodo of Monaco and Hugo Nys of France are playing their first tour-level event as a team since Monte-Carlo in April, when they upset Grand Slam champions Jean-Julien Rojer/Horia Tecau and Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares en route to the semi-finals.