Scouting Report: 20 Things To Watch In Basel & Vienna
An executive summary of what every fan should know about the coming week on the ATP World Tour
The last two of 13 ATP World Tour 500-level tournaments take place this week in Basel and Vienna, where valuable ATP Ranking points are at stake for the ATP Race To London and the ATP Race To Milan. The Nitto ATP Finals qualification cut-off is 5 November and the Next Gen ATP Finals cut-off is 29 October.
At the Swiss Indoors Basel, Roger Federer will look to thrill his home crowd and capture a ninth title. The Swiss is joined by World No. 5 Alexander Zverev, No. 6 Marin Cilic and an exciting field of challengers, including Intrum Stockholm Open champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. Dominic Thiem tops the draw at the Erste Bank Open 500, where eight of the Top 15 players in the ATP Rankings are competing, including European Open winner Kyle Edmund.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN BASEL
1) Race For London: There are three spots remaining for the Nitto ATP Finals and the top two seeds, Federer and Zverev, have already booked their tickets to the season finale. No. 3 seed and 2016 Basel champion Cilic is looking to secure a spot in London for the fourth time.
2) Hometown Hero: Eight-time Basel champion Federer owns a 66-9 record at his hometown tournament and he has reached the final in 11 straight appearances (2006-15, 2017). Overall, in 17 main draw appearances, Federer has made 13 finals, holding a 8-5 record. He has a 15-match winning streak in Basel since his last loss to Juan Martin del Potro in the 2013 final. Federer is 39-7 this season with three titles from five finals.
3) Millman Rematch: In the second round, Federer could face Aussie John Millman, who earned the biggest win of his career by stunning the Swiss in the fourth round of the US Open. Millman opens against German Jan-Lennard Struff.
4) Zverev Returns: The 21-year-old German is making his first visit to Basel since losing in the first round in 2014. The second seed is 3-2 in finals this season, winning titles in Munich, Madrid and Washington, D.C.
5) Basel Success: Cilic is the other former Basel champion in the draw. The 30-year-old Croat has a 13-4 record at the event, winning the title two years ago and reaching the semi-finals last year. He captured his 18th tour-level title at the Fever-Tree Championships and was runner-up at the Australian Open.
6) Arriving In-Form: Stockholm champion Tsitsipas and Moscow finalist Adrian Mannarino both arrive in Basel after strong showings last week. Tsitispas defeated Ernests Gulbis to lift his first tour-level trophy, with Mannarino falling to 0-6 in tour-level finals after an impressive week in the Russian capital.
7) Stan Is Back: Swiss No. 2 Stan Wawrinka is making his 14th Basel appearance in 16 years. The former World No. 3 is 11-13 in Basel, with two semi-final appearances, in 2006 and 2011. He is 17-17 this season.
8) Medvedev Moving Up: No. 7 seed Daniil Medvedev is making his Basel debut this week. The 22-year-old Russian is bidding to win his fourth tour-level trophy of the season on as many continents, after previous title runs in Sydney, Winston-Salem and Tokyo.
10) Doubles Draw: Top seeds Raven Klaasen and Michael Venus are looking to become the next team to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals. They are No. 7 in the ATP Race To London. No. 3 seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau are No. 13 in the Race.
10 THINGS TO WATCH IN VIENNA
1) Race For London: There are three spots remaining for the Nitto ATP Finals and seven of the Top 8 seeds in Vienna are in contention, led by No. 2 seed Kevin Anderson, who is No. 7 in the Race. He is followed by Thiem, John Isner, Kei Nishikori, Borna Coric, Fabio Fognini and Edmund.
2) Top-Seeded Thiem: Austrian star Thiem is the No. 1 seed in his hometown tournament for the first time. With a 6-7 record in Vienna, Thiem's best result came in 2013 when he reached the quarter-finals. The Austrian will be hoping to enjoy the success of top seeds since 2010. Since then, five of the past eight champions were top seeds. Thiem is 48-16 on the season with titles in Buenos Aires, Lyon and St. Petersburg.
3) Returning Champion: Unseeded Lucas Pouille, who defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the 2017 championship match, is the No. 1 Frenchman at No. 22 in the ATP Rankings. He is 1-2 in finals this season, winning his fifth ATP World Tour title in Montpellier and finishing runner-up in Marseille and Dubai.
4) Former Champions: Besides Pouille, there are two other former champions in the draw: wild card Jurgen Melzer, the last Austrian titlist in 2010, and 2011 winner Tsonga, who also reached the final in 2016 and 2017.
5) Melzer's Singles Finale: Melzer is competing on the singles court for the final time this week. The Austrian climbed as high as World No. 8 and captured five ATP World Tour titles. The 37-year-old left-hander faces former World No. 3 Milos Raonic in the first round.
6) Next Gen Contenders: Wild card Felix Auger-Aliassime is trying to qualify for the Next Gen ATP Finals. The 18-year-old Canadian is the youngest player in the draw and is No. 13 in the ATP Race To Milan with a 24-13 record and two ATP Challenger Tour titles. He owns a 6-9 tour-level record in 2018. Frances Tiafoe, who is No. 5 in the ATP Race To Milan, has already qualified. The American is making his Vienna debut.
7) Edmund Eyes Another Title: After capturing his maiden tour-level trophy in Antwerp, No. 8 seed Edmund will enter the Austrian capital full of confidence. The Brit, who owns a 35-20 tour-level record this year, also reached the Grand Prix Hassan II championship match in April.
8) Monfils Returns: Antwerp runner-up Gael Monfils is making his first appearance in Vienna since 2015, when he advanced to the semi-finals. On his Vienna debut in 2008, Monfils reached the championship match (l. to Petzschner). The Frenchman opened the season by winning his seventh tour-level trophy in Doha.
9) Basilashvili On The Rise: Nikoloz Basilashvili, who has captured ATP World Tour 500-level titles in Hamburg and Beijing this year, has jumped from No. 82 on 22 July to a career-high No. 23 in the ATP Rankings.
10) Doubles Race: The Top four teams in the ATP Doubles Race To London have already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals at The 02. This week, these teams are also the top four seeded teams in Vienna: Oliver Marach and Mate Pavic, No. 2 Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo, the 2015-16 champions, No. 3 Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, and No. 4 Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares.