20 Things To Watch In Estoril, Munich
Zverev, Tsitsipas headline action on the ATP Tour this week
In week three of the European clay-court swing, ATP 250 events in Estoril and Munich take the spotlight. World No. 10 Stefanos Tsitsipas leads the way at the Millennium Estoril Open, while two-time defending champion Alexander Zverev aims for a three-peat at the BMW Open by FWU. Here are 20 things to watch from the ATP 250 events:
10 Things To Watch In Estoril
1) A Packed Field: Two clay-court events take place on the ATP Tour this week, in Estoril and Munich. At the Millennium Estoril Open, World No. 10 Stefanos Tsitsipas and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini join former titlists Joao Sousa and Pablo Carreno Busta in the field.
2) Greece Lightning: Top seed Tsitsipas is back at the ATP 250 event after reaching the semi-finals on his debut last year, where he fell to eventual champion Sousa. The top Greek in ATP Rankings history is 19-9 this season, winning the title in Marseille and making the Australian Open semi-finals, but saw his ATP Ranking fall from two spots to No. 10 on Monday – his first ATP Ranking dip since October 2018.
3) A Hero’s Homecoming: Sousa thrilled the Estoril crowds last year by becoming the first Portuguese champion in the tournament’s history. The top Portuguese player in ATP Rankings history had to save two match points against compatriot Pedro Sousa in the second round, before marching to his third ATP Tour singles title – his first on home soil, and his first on clay.
4) Fog Rolling In: Two weeks ago, second seed Fognini owned a 4-8 win-loss record in 2019 with no victories from four tour-level matches on clay. That suddenly changed when he clinched his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, defeating 11-time champion Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals before a final victory against Dusan Lajovic. Fognini, the first Italian to win a Masters 1000 title, is at a career-high No. 12 in the ATP Rankings.
5) Stellar Serb: Fifth seed Lajovic is up one spot to a new career-high ATP Ranking of No. 23. The Serb smashed his prior career-high ranking of No. 42 after reaching his first singles final in the Principality, notching his first Top 5 win over Dominic Thiem en route to the championship match.
6) Back for More: 2017 champion Carreno Busta has established a strong resume in Estoril, going 13-3 in his four showings. The No. 7 seed reached the final in 2016, before going one step further in the following year. Also returning to Estoril is eighth seed Frances Tiafoe, who fell to Sousa in last year's final.
7) Going Wild: Fourth seed David Goffin received a wild card into the event, as the Belgian seeks more clay-court wins following second-round exits in Monte-Carlo and Barcelona. Carreno Busta and Pedro Sousa round out the three wild cards at the Millennium Estoril Open this week.
8) Gael Force: Third seed Gael Monfils, like his fellow seeded players Fognini, Goffin and Lajovic, is making his Estoril debut. The Frenchman opened the year with a career-best 15-3 start, including the Rotterdam title, but gave eventual champion Thiem a walkover in the BNP Paribas Open quarter-finals in his most recent appearance on the ATP Tour. Monfils withdrew from the Miami Open presented by Itau with a left ankle injury.
9) Young Guns: Sixth seed Alex de Minaur is also playing his first event since Indian Wells. The Aussie had a hot start to 2019 as well, opening the year with a 11-4 record and winning his first tour-level trophy in his hometown of Sydney. De Minaur, who withdrew from Miami with a hip injury, is still fifth in the #NextGenATP Race to Milan, behind Tsitsipas, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Denis Shapovalov, and Tiafoe.
10) Doubling Up: No. 4 doubles seeds Marcus Daniell and Wesley Koolhof arrive in Estoril after a run to the Budapest final (l. to Skupski/Skupski). It was Koolhof's third straight final appearance with as many partners, following runner-up finishes at Masters 1000 events in Miami (w/Tsitsipas) and Monte-Carlo (w/Haase).
10 Things To Watch In Munich
1) Home Hopes: Two clay-court events take place on the ATP Tour this week, in Munich and Estoril. At the BMW Open by FWU in Munich, two-time defending champion and World No. 3 Alexander Zverev joins fellow German and three-time champion Philipp Kohlschreiber in the field.
2) The Champ Returns: Top seed Zverev returns to Munich in an attempt to pull off a hat-trick of titles at the ATP 250 event. Already making his sixth appearance at the tournament at age 22, the German has built up a 12-3 record in Munich. Zverev has been ranked in the Top 5 each week since 11 September 2017, but still seeks his first singles trophy of 2019 after winning nine titles in the past two seasons.
3) Munich Debut: After accepting a wild card into the event, second seed Karen Khachanov also aims to capture his first title of the year. The Russian broke through at the end of 2018 by winning his first ATP Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Paris Masters, but is currently on a four-match losing streak dating back to a quarter-final loss to Rafael Nadal at the BNP Paribas Open.
4) Right at Home: The oldest player in the draw, Philipp Kohlschreiber, has heavy championship experience at Munich. The 35-year-old debuted at the event in 2002 and has amassed a 33-11 record in Munich since then, winning titles in 2007, 2012, and 2016, and making three other finals, including last year. Kohlschreiber faces fellow 35-year-old Andreas Seppi in the first round.
5) One More Step: Fourth seed Roberto Bautista Agut has made at least the quarter-finals in all three of his appearances in Munich, but he is still seeking his first final at the event. He fell in the semi-finals to eventual champions Andy Murray in 2015 and Zverev in 2017, and lost to last year's finalist Kohlschreiber in the quarter-finals 12 months ago.
6) Final Four: Two of last year’s unseeded Grand Slam semi-finalists are Top 5 seeds in Munich this year. No. 3 seed Marco Cecchinato beat Novak Djokovic to make the 2018 Roland Garros semi-finals, while No. 5 seed Kyle Edmund upset then-No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov to reach the final four at the 2018 Australian Open. Both Cecchinato and Edmund ended last year ranked inside the Top 20.
7) That Winning Feeling: Martin Klizan joins Zverev and Kohlschreiber as former champions in the draw. Klizan won the second of his six ATP Tour titles at this event as a qualifier in 2014, beating Fabio Fognini in the final. He also won his most recent title as a qualifier, in Kitzbuhel last year.
8) Qualies Quality: After successfully making it into the Munich main draw, Lorenzo Sonego will try to make a third straight ATP Tour quarter-final as a qualifier. After qualifying at Marrakech and reaching the last eight there, the Italian notched the biggest win of his career over Khachanov en route to his first Masters 1000 quarter-final at the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters as a qualifier.
9) Wild Cards: Rudolf Molleker is one of this week’s wild cards. The 18-year-old German finished last season as the youngest player ranked in the Top 400. He currently sits at a new career-high ranking of No. 157 after making two quarter-finals and a semi-final at his last three ATP Challenger Tour events. Maximilian Marterer joins Molleker and Khachanov as the third wild card.
10) Brothers In Form: In the doubles draw, No. 3 seeds Ken Skupski and Neal Skupski come into Munich on a winning streak, having lifted the Hungarian Open title on Sunday. The British brothers claimed their first crown of the season in Budapest after runner-up finishes in Houston and Delray Beach earlier this year.