Scouting Report

Scouting Report: Americans Paul, Shelton Lead Fields In Adelaide, Auckland

An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week
January 07, 2024
Ben Shelton, Tommy Paul and Thanasi Kokkinakis are among the players to watch this week on the ATP Tour.
Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Ben Shelton, Tommy Paul and Thanasi Kokkinakis are among the players to watch this week on the ATP Tour. By ATP Staff

The 2024 ATP Tour season rolls on to its second full week with action at the Adelaide International and the ASB Classic in Auckland. The hard-court ATP 250s follow season-opening action at the United Cup and in Brisbane and Hong Kong.

Americans lead both fields, with Tommy Paul the top seed in Adelaide and Ben Shelton the top seed in Auckland. breaks down five things to watch in both cities.

1) Paul Flies United States Flag:
Seven Americans are currently inside the Top 50 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings, and three of those men will compete in Adelaide. In addition to World No. 13 Paul, who trails only No. 10 Taylor Fritz in the battle for top-ranked American, Sebastian Korda and Mackenzie McDonald are also in action.

Both Korda and McDonald made their marks in Australia last season, with Korda beating Daniil Medvedev and McDonald upsetting Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open. Korda also had a championship point against Novak Djokovic in the Adelaide-1 final last year.

2) Jarry Looks To Build After United Cup: Chile's Nicolas Jarry won both of his singles matches at the United Cup, where he was captained by grandfather Jamie Fillol. The 28-year-old entered 2024 at a career-high Pepperstone ATP Ranking of No. 19 and is bidding to pass Fillol's career-best mark of World No. 14 this season.

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3) Musetti Leads Italian Charge: After the 2023 ATP Tour season ended in Italy with the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin, Italy's star players are back on the road for 2024. Three Italians earned direct entry in Adelaide, including Lorenzo Musetti, Matteo Arnaldi and Lorenzo Sonego.

4) Hometown Hero Kokkinakis Returns: Adelaide's own Thanasi Kokkinakis won his first ATP Tour title in 2022 in his hometown. He backed that up with a semi-final run in 2022 that included an upset of top seed Andrey Rublev. This year, he is once again joined by fellow Aussie Alexei Popyrin in the draw. The countrymen met at the ATP 250 last season, with Kokkinakis earning the win in their first Lexus ATP Head2Head matchup.

5) Top Doubles Talents: Each of the top four players in the Pepperstone ATP Doubles Rankings are set to compete this week in Adelaide. Ivan Dodig and Austin Krajicek, who earned Year-End ATP Doubles No. 1 presented by Pepperstone honours for the first time in 2023, are joined by the duo of Rohan Bopanna and Matthew Ebden in the field.

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1) Can Shelton Hit New Heights?: During a 2023 season in which he won his first tour-level title in Tokyo, Shelton reached a career high of No. 15 in the Pepperstone ATP Rankings and announced himself as one of the most exciting rising stars in the sport. At the start of his second full season on the ATP Tour, Shelton is joined by fellow Americans Christopher Eubanks and J.J. Wolf in Auckland.

2) Returning Finalist Norrie: Former New Zealand resident Cameron Norrie reached the final in Auckland last season but fell victim to a stunning comeback from Richard Gasquet in the title match. The Briton enters this season at World No. 18, 10 places off his career high of No. 8 achieved in September 2022.

3) Fils Building On Next Gen ATP Finals Run: #NextGenATP Frenchman Arthur Fils closed the 2023 season with a run to the Next Gen ATP Finals title match in Jeddah, where he was beaten by Hamad Medjedovic for the trophy. The 19-year-old Fils has already made a strong start to the new season with a run to the quarter-finals in his first event in Hong Kong.

4) Mannarino Goes Solo After United Cup Run: Adrian Mannarino enjoyed a deep run into the semi-finals at the United Cup alongside Caroline Garcia and player/captain Edouard Roger-Vasselin for France. Can he translate that team success to individual victories in Auckland?

5) Felix Starts Fresh: After nearly falling out of the Top 30 of the Pepperstone ATP Rankings in 2023, Felix Auger-Aliassime is ready to reset for 2024. The Canadian, who won four titles in 2022, salvaged an otherwise down year in 2023 by winning the ATP 500 crown in Bastad in October. The former World No. 6 will be eager to shorten the wait for his next tour-level crown this year. Denis Shapovalov, who has not competed since Wimbledon last year, makes his return in New Zealand.

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